Learning gap between children in and out of poverty widens. Image: Zsolnai Gergely Adobe Stock

Central Bedfordshire has the third highest proportion nationally of poorer children falling behind

Save the Children says that for 7 out of 11 local authorities in the East of England, the early learning gap between children in poverty and their peers has widened since last year.

Poorer children starting primary school in these areas are being left further behind their classmates in basic but vital skills. Such as speaking in full sentences, following simple instructions and expressing themselves.

The gap in Central Bedfordshire grew by more than almost anywhere in England. It now has the country’s third highest proportion of five years olds who are falling behind.

Steven McIntosh, Save the Children’s Director of UK Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns Image: Save the Children

Steven McIntosh, Save the Children’s director of UK Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, said:

“Children who start school without the tools to learn find it incredibly difficult to catch up, which risks further locking children into poverty in the future.

“The government has made welcome commitments to close the early learning gap. But they are ignoring an early years staffing crisis that will continue to undermine children’s potential – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“There is a national shortage of graduate early years teachers who are specifically trained to help children who are falling behind.”

Central Bedfordshire has the third highest proportion nationally of poorer children falling behind

Save the Children says that across the country, two in five of all poor children are struggling with basic skills at age 5, compared to just over a quarter of their better-off classmates.

The charity conducted a local analysis of the recently released ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ results for 2017/18. This reveal the numbers of children reaching expected levels of development in key areas during their first year of primary school.

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds recently pledged to halve the number of pupils starting school behind in talking and reading skills by 2028. However, earlier this year the government axed a key commitment to address the early years teacher shortage. This decision was criticised by charities, schools and nursery leaders.

Central Bedfordshire Council was approach for a comment but did not respond before publication.