Concerns new primary pupils are not ready for school

Children are less ready for school than five years ago, according to school leaders.

A new survey of school leaders published by the NAHT and the Family and Childcare Trust has found that eight out of 10 school leaders reported that many children arriving at primary school are not ready to take part in classroom activities.

Of these, 86 per cent of respondents were concerned that school readiness is worse than five years ago.

Common reasons for children not being school ready highlighted by school leaders included: parents having less available resources and pressure on parents and family life (66 per cent); a reduction in local services to support families (63 per cent); a reduction in local health services to support families (57 per cent); and failure to identify and support additional needs early enough (67 per cent).

Almost a quarter said that more than half their intake was not ready for school.

Almost 9 in 10 (88 per cent) said inadequate school funding was a barrier to improving school readiness.

School leaders highlighted particular concerns about communication skills and physical development. Speech, language and communication problems were the biggest issues with 97 per cent of respondents identifying these problems as a concern.

As the Chancellor and his team at the Treasury are making decisions about this autumn’s budget, NAHT and the Family and Childcare Trust are calling on the government to prioritise funding for support for families in the early years to help set children up to learn at school and beyond.

Anne Lyons, NAHT president and head teacher at St John Fisher Catholic Primary School, commented: “With this report, we are hoping to highlight the impact that cuts to public services are having on families and children.

“The support that families of all kinds regard as essential are being cut back or have already disappeared.

“Cuts to school budgets mean that it’s also getting harder to address these issues once the children are in school.”

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