Why? This is the exciting age when children are growing out of infancy, developing quirky senses of humour, having startling insights. It is also a crucial point in their education. If reading is not secure by age eight, children may fall permanently behind. Reasons for the Year 3-4 blackspot are not entirely clear. It could have to do with a change of school or key stage, or with a lack of focus by schools on those years in the middle.
Now the National Numeracy Project has shown that this doesn't have to happen (see page 8). Eight and nine-year-olds in the pilot showed greater progress than any other group. Again, we can't be sure why, but it could be because the scheme details a curriculum for each year rather than a four-year key stage, and builds in continuity from year to year.
It's good news and worth thinking about.