Ready - or not


Teachers are reporting a worrying increase in the number of children who are arriving at reception class not ‘school ready’, according to a new survey*.

It concluded that 50 per cent of children were not ready to start school in 2021. Some teachers described children as being developmentally very far behind expectations for their age: for instance, not toilet trained, struggling to socialise with other children, express themselves or understand basic instructions.

Nearly nine in 10 primary school teachers and teaching assistants reported having to spend additional time with children not achieving their developmental milestones, leaving less time for the rest of the children in their class.

Research suggests that 40 per cent of the attainment gap at GCSE level is set by the time children go to school. Starting school behind peers has a huge impact on children’s life chances: developmental progress at 22 months serves as an accurate predictor of educational attainment at 26. If children are behind with their vocabulary at age five, they are four times more likely to have reading difficulties, three times more likely to have mental health problems and twice as likely to be unemployed as an adult.

* Survey carried out by YouGov in partnership with early years foundation Kindred2.