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(UK) England: 29% of 5-yr-olds were not at the expected level of development: report

July 17, 2020, Staffordshire Express and Star: Early support for children in England ‘disjointed’, commissioner finds https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2020/07/17/early-support-for-children-in-england-disjointed-commissioner-finds/ (Midlands) Support for children during the first years of their lives is “disjointed”, meaning many from disadvantaged backgrounds are behind by the time they start formal education, a report has found. Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published a report looking at the provision of early years services for one to five-year-olds across the country. The report, Best Beginnings, said services often fail to target disadvantaged children with development problems who need the most early help. It found that, last year, 29% of five-year-olds in England were not at the expected level of development by the time they started school, including 45% of children receiving free school meals. 45%--Number of five-year-olds in England receiving free school meals who were not at the expected level of development in 2019 In Middlesbrough, 38% of children are not achieving the expected level of development aged five, while in Dudley and Sandwell, in the West Midlands, it is 35% of children, it said…. The Commissioner’s office analysed data on all children in England who had not met the expected level on half of their early learning goals at the age of five and tracked them through to the end of primary school. It found the children were five times as likely to end up being excluded by age 10, twice as likely to have had contact with children’s social care, three times more likely to be struggling with reading, and four times more likely to find difficulties with writing by age 11. They are also more likely to leave school with no GCSEs, to suffer some form of mental ill health and to be obese. The Children’s Commissioner has called for an emergency rescue package to prevent thousands of nurseries from going under as a result of Covid-19…. Ms Longfield said: “Each year 82,000 children in England start school significantly behind where they should be at the age of five. “That is one in seven children, or four children in every classroom…. “Nurseries and early years support play a vital role in helping children prepare for school, but coronavirus and lockdown have put many at risk of closure. “The consequences could be thousands of children missing out on vital support that sets them on a path to a good education and better prospects. “At the same time, any economic recovery will need parents to able to return to work full-time. “Nursery closures could put a dent in plans to get the economy back on track. “In the immediate term, we need an emergency Government rescue package to stop nurseries going under, but there is much more to do beyond that. “The Government must make the early years a priority and drive reforms so that all children start school ready and able to learn and progress.”… The Government must urgently provide targeted support for the childcare sector to prevent a wave of nursery closures, which would devastate working families and set back our economic recovery… “The childcare sector is now on the brink of collapse due to Covid-19, and we know that it is nurseries in deprived areas that are most likely to close,” she said. “Covid-19 has also exacerbated the financial challenges facing early years providers and there remains an urgent need for additional funding to support them.”