17 Feb Research finds that Children’s futures in East England at risk
A shocking poll has reported that 28% of all children in Essex are not reaching a good level of development.
More than a third of parents in England with children under five don’t know whether their nursery employs qualified early years teachers – staff trained specifically to support children’s early learning and development and help those falling behind – a YouGov poll commissioned by Save the Children reveals today.
At the same time, research shows that last year alone, one in three started primary school falling behind their peers in areas like literacy and numeracy in part because they didn’t have access to these teachers.
But the consequences won’t end there: of those children who started behind, 5,600 will likely remain behind in English when they reach secondary school, and 4,500 will remain behind in maths – having potentially devastating consequences for the rest of their schooling and even their careers.
Parents are concerned their own children could be at risk, according to the poll.
Children in the East of England without an early years teacher are almost 10% less likely to meet the expected levels of development when they start school compared to children who do have a teacher.
But currently, there is a huge shortage of 2,300 nursery teachers in the East of England, and the number of applicants nationally are in decline as nurseries struggle with funding pressures and recruitment costs.
Save the Children, along with leading child development experts, is calling on the government to urgently address the shortage by investing in an early years teacher for every nursery, starting in the most deprived areas of the country.
Tesse, a mother of two said: “My daughter went to nursery with an early years teacher before primary school and I’m so glad she did – it made a huge difference to her language and attention skills and it also made her feel more confident.
Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, a Clinical Psychologist and expert from Channel Four’s “Secret Life of Four Year Olds” programme said: “The early years of a child’s life are without a doubt the most crucial for their learning and development, and likewise, where support for their learning makes the biggest difference.
Kevin Watkins, Chief executive of Save the Children said: “It’s just not acceptable that in this day and age, so many children in England are falling behind before they even set foot in primary school – leaving them at risk of staying behind throughout their school years and into the world of work.
“Nurseries do an incredible job nurturing our children, but financial constraints are leaving many of them struggling to hire the qualified early years teachers who help give children the skills and confidence they need to learn and grow.
“The evidence clearly shows the huge and transformational difference early years teachers can make for children. That’s why we’re calling on government to ensure every nursery has a qualified teacher. It’s an investment we must make to help every child reach their full potential.”