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Nearly half of kids in capital not ‘school ready’ by age five

Almost half of London children are not ‘school ready’ by age five and will therefore struggle with literacy, numeracy, physical and social skills, a new report by Public Health England (PHE) has suggested today (10 August).

Two in every five children – or nearly 40,000 – did not achieve a ‘good level of development’ (GLD) in 2013-14 until their fifth birthday.

Children who don’t achieve the necessary development will struggle with basic skills and can suffer negative outcomes later in life, particularly around health, future earnings, crime involvements and death.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London, said: “The first five years of a child’s life, the foundation years, are absolutely critical. Healthy early child development is fundamental to school readiness, which can have a major impact on a child’s life chances.

“We want to make sure all children in London develop their full potential and are prepared for the challenges of school and beyond.”

A number of factors can impact a child’s GLD, with ethnicity the most important factor: only 19% of Gypsy and Roma pupils are likely to be ‘school ready’ compared to 63% of White British children.

Gender, family income and individual circumstances, such as special needs, are also directly linked with appropriate school readiness.

Early measures can significantly improve a child’s development and preparedness for school, including good maternal health, learning activities, enhanced physical activity, high quality of early education and parenting support programmes.

By age 3, for example, children from low income backgrounds will only have learned half the vocabulary of children from high income families.

School readiness also benefits people economically, as every £1 invested in quality early care and education can save up to £13 in future government costs.

Additionally, for every £1 spent on early years education, £7 has to be spent to have the same impact in adolescence.

Dr Marilena Korkodilos, paediatrician and child health lead for PHE London, said: “We have produced this report to further educate healthcare professionals, parents and carers about the importance of school readiness, show what interventions can improve a child’s levels of development and what can impact on it.”

Despite an improvement in school readiness across all boroughs in the capital in 2012-13, there is still a “wide variation” in the proportion of school-ready kids in London.


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