According to a poll by charity Action for Children, which runs some children’s centres across the region, 49 per cent of parents from Yorkshire and the Humber are worried their child will not be ready to start school at the age of five, and of those, 52 per cent are concerned that if their child started school behind their peers, they would remain behind – which can seriously impact their ability to do well in education and find a good job in later life.
It is calling on the Government to provide greater support for parents during their children’s early years, and introduce a measure by which all children should reach in their development by the age of five.
The charity said being ready for school should mean a child has reached a good level of development in a number of areas that enable them “to cope emotionally, communicate with teachers and be confident interacting with other children”.
In total, 70 per cent of parents polled think the Government should make sure all children reach a good level of development before they start school.
Wakefield mother-of-one Paula Brooke’s son Logan, three, is due to start school in September when he will be four years old. Although he attends in nursery school while she is studying at the University of Huddersfield, she is worried that there has not been enough to be “bridge the gap” between the two.
Miss Brooke, 32, said: “He will go from a play environment to a teaching environment, which does concern me.
“While nursery has been great as they have started to prepare the children by teaching them phonics, I do think there is a lack of support in the system.
“I have no idea about the standard he should be at by the time her starts education.”
Action for Children’s director of children’s services north, John Egan, said: “Starting school is a huge milestone in a child’s life. It is not surprising that 70 per cent of parents told us that the Government should make sure all children reach a good level of development by age five.
“We are calling on the Government to measure this as part of their Life Chances Strategy, as we know that once a child starts school behind their peers they will face an uphill challenge to catch up.
“Parents play the most important role in helping their child develop during their earliest years but they shouldn’t need to do this alone or feel that asking for help is a reflection on their parenting.
“Our research shows that parents want affordable, non-judgemental support from a trusted source to ensure their child has the best start in life. The Government have said that they recognise the importance of supporting parents, so they must listen to them about what will help.”
The Department for Education spokesperson said: “The early years are critical to a child’s development and we want to ensure teachers are able to identify where pupils may need additional support as early as possible, regardless of background or circumstance. Over the coming months we will be considering options for assessment in the early years and will engage stakeholders in that work.
“Latest figures show more young children than ever are achieving the expected level of development in the early years, including those who have English as an additional language, and those eligible for free school meals.”