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By taking sides in the long-running ‘Reading Wars’ and terminating the existing model of early reading instruction with extreme prejudice, Michael Gove took one of the boldest, most contentious, unpopular and far-reaching decisions of his tenure as Education Secretary. This paper investigates the history, the battle lines, the weaponry and, if, indeed, he won the war, whether it resulted in more children in England being able to read. The results suggest that this, rather than his changes to curriculum and assessment, may be his greatest legacy.
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