Education authorities today demanded more government money for reading classes for under-achieving 11-year-olds, saying it would help to cut exclusions at secondaries.
They claimed cash spent on catch-up lessons would give pupils confidence, encourage good behaviour and help motivate the 8,000 boys aged 12-15 who are excluded every year.
Graham Lane, education chair of the Local Government Association, said: "It is widely recognised that poor levels of literacy contribute to pupils' feelings of failure and dissatisfaction.
"Children with poor readingskills may be branded as dunces by their peer groups, which often leads to disruptive behaviour."
He said money channelled into reading classes for 11-year-olds would allow them to be taught in smaller groups after school "before they fall victim to teasing". The association said that, as well as preventing exclusions, the move would ease the transition to secondary school for primary pupils and reduce behavioural problems.
The call for extra cash is part of its manifesto, Opportunity to Prosper, which contains 48 proposals to help communities.