The LSE's study of phonics was spectactularly misreported in The Times and Telegraph as asserting that the approach had no benefits over other methods. In fact, it showed continued benefits at 11 to pupils in disadvantaged circumstances, as measured by free school meals or having English as an additional language. One of the sadnesses of the decline of print newspapers has been the degeneration of educational journalism into a series of snappy pieces based on press releases, and this was one of the worst. Sally Waite's report in The Guardian was better, though she perhaps did not give full weight to the importance of the benefits of the approach to the disadvantaged groups. There are many intervening factors in reading between the ages of seven and eleven, and to have any detectable benefit four years after an approach finishes is stiff test. The report certainly does not discredit phonics.
There is a very good summary of the linguistic difficulties faced by these groups of pupils - the LSE report calls them a "vocabulary deficit" - in this account of Hart and Risley's research. The children of highly educated parents have a vastly different experience from those of parents with little education, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to see how this gap, estimated at thirty million words, can ever be bridged.