Why are more than a quarter of children under-performing at five in Redbridge primary schools?
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Almost a quarter of girls and 35 per cent of boys in Redbridge are underdeveloped by the age of five, according to the latest government figures.
Department for Education data shows the borough is in the bottom half of local authorities in the country, with 39pc of children on free school meals not reaching the required standard.
The Save the Children charity says it is concerned that if the needs of children are not being met at such a young age then their futures could be at risk.
Research collected on behalf of the charity shows that children are falling behind, especially in numeracy and literacy, in part because they do not have access to specially trained staff – early years teachers – in nursery.
Clinical psychologist Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, who worked on Channel 4 show The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, told the Recorder a child’s early years are the most crucial for their learning and development.
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“Their brains absorb and grow the most when they’re little, learning everything from using words, phrases, and numbers, to understanding the world around them, and building healthy relationships,” she said.
“That’s why early years teachers are so important – it’s not about giving toddlers a formal education, but growing their minds through play and simple every day interactions that will give them the best start in life.”
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While all nurseries have staff who are trained to care for children, only three out of 10 in Redbridge have qualified early years teachers, placing it in the bottom half nationally.
Lizs Nahal, of Little Diamonds nursery, Hermon Hill, Wanstead, said that even having a couple of specialists makes a big difference.
“We are lucky enough to have two early years teachers which is really helpful,” she explained.
“Working with them not only prepares children for school but sets them up for later in life.”
There is a huge shortage of nursery teachers in London, and the number of applicants nationally is in decline as nurseries struggle with funding pressures and recruitment costs.
Claire Schofield, director of membership, policy and communications at National Day Nurseries Association, said “chronic underfunding of free places” for three and four-year-olds impaired nurseries the most.
“The vast majority currently make a loss on these places – an average of £900 per year, per child – and don’t have enough overall income to pay more graduate salaries,” she explained
Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children said: “It’s just not acceptable that in this day and age so many children 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.”
He added: “The evidence clearly shows the huge and transformational difference early years teachers can make for children, it’s an investment we must make to help every child reach their full potential.”