Children ‘falling behind’ after three years in primary school

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THOUSANDS of children in Yorkshire are already falling behind the rest of the country at reading and writing by the age of seven, new figures have revealed.

The region has the highest level of pupils not reaching the standard expected of the age group in the country.

And the gap between Yorkshire and the rest of England is even greater for children who have English as a second language.

Yorkshire’s performance lags behind the rest of the country in the testing of both seven and 11-year-olds and until recently the region had the worst GCSE results nationally as well.

The latest figures suggest Yorkshire children are already falling behind after just three years of schooling.

However, Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah warned yesterday that a child’s chances were already being decided before they have “knotted their tie and fastened their laces” for their first day of school.

He called for more schools to offer nursery education to help improve pupils prospect of success in school.

The latest tables measuring the ability of seven-year-olds show that on average children in Yorkshire have fallen behind their peers in reading, writing and maths. The region lags further behind in reading and writing among children who have English as a second language.

One-in-four children with English an additional language in Yorkshire do not get to the expected standard in writing and one-in-five do not achieve this in reading, according to assessments carried out by teachers. The figures from the Department for Education show that while 87 per cent of seven-year-olds with English as an additional language across the country reach the expected level in reading in Yorkshire the figure was 79 per cent. In writing, the national figure is 83 per cent while in Yorkshire it is 76 per cent.

Overall, the vast majority of children in Yorkshire and across the country do reach the expected level in the three Rs - but the region lags behind in all areas.

Nationally, 10 per cent of children do not reach the expected level in reading but in Yorkshire this figure is 12 per cent - 7,480 children. In writing assessments, 14 per cent of seven-year-olds across the country do not get to the expected level but in Yorkshire the figure is 16 per cent - 9,972 children. In maths, just eight per cent fall short of what is expected nationally but in Yorkshire it is 10 per cent - 6,233 children. The region also lags behind the rest of the country in phonics testing of six-year-olds.

Earlier this year, The Yorkshire Post launched the Turning the Page campaign to promote the importance of children being able to read and write.

Professor Alan Smithers, from Buckingham University’s Centre for Centre for Education and Employment Research, said: “It is complex and these results tell us more about the children in the schools rather than the schools themselves but even though it is not the fault of Yorkshire’s schools - it is the schools themselves that are the best way of making a difference so people do need to take note of these figures.”