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Posted in Children & Family, Education & Training, Campaigning & Petitions

Children in the UK aren’t school ready by aged 5


fair by five action for children

1 in 3 children in England aren’t ready for school by age 5*.

In a recent survey**by Action for Children found that 70% of people believe children should be ready to start school by age 5 and they agreed with evidence that suggests a good level of emotional, behavioural and physical development by age five is associated with success in education and better employment prospects.

Action for Children have recently launched their ‘Fair by Five’ campaign which calls on the Government to make child development a national priority and help families overcome barriers that keep children back. The most deprived areas of the UK are often hardest hit with the most disadvantaged children. Action for Children is committed to making sure every child has the love, support and opportunity to reach their potential.

Chloe Hardy, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Action for Children, said:

“What happens in the earliest years affects our later lives. If a child starts school behind their peers, without having reached a good level of development, they are likely to stay behind – which can seriously impact their ability to do well in education and employment throughout life. We know that two in five children who live in the most deprived communities, arrive at school not ready to learn. There has never been a more important time to focus on tomorrow’s adults. We can’t afford to let down thousands of children who could and should be getting a better start in life. We need the Government, and all political parties, to commit to doing more for this group. It’s time to close the gap in child development.”                           

Find out more information on the campaign. 

* Early Years Foundation Stage Profile results 2014

**Survey polled 4,000 adults across the UK 

31 Comments on Children in the UK aren’t school ready by aged 5

Anna Brown said at 01:03 on 30 December 2016

In the future, the peer to peer economy will be the dominant feature. 9 to 5 drone-type employment will be fading. Children aged 4 should not have to go to school 5 days a week. It's tiring, draining and confidence-sapping. No matter how bright they are. It trains them to only think of working for others rather than for themselves and retards independent thought. I say this as someone with a degree and PhD (biochemistry). I didn't enjoy school until I was 11 and could study a meaningful variety of subjects and have the desire to do so. My son will start school in April . He won't even be 4. His language skills are excellent. He's telling me he doesn't want to go..

Jenny said at 14:16 on 28 December 2016

Lets take lessons from Finland where children dont start formal education until the age of seven. Their children fair better everystep of their education than the UK hands down. Children shouldnt need to be 'ready for school' the schools need to be 'Ready for Children' . With different needs and abilities all children should be welcomed into school to learn through exciting interactive activities ,not sitting at a desk, and teachers taught to that carry out the EYFS the way it was designed.

Hayley said at 10:42 on 19 December 2016

I'm not sure you can say a universal age. I think Reception year is generally a taster to get the kids use to a routine, class sizes etc and then things properly start in Year One. My youngest started school this September, two weeks after her fourth birthday, and she's loving it - absolutely thriving and her reading and writing has exploded within the first term. Whilst I know there are other kids nearly a year older than my daughter, who are struggling a bit and the taster year of Reception is needed to settle them in.

Harriet leech said at 10:40 on 18 December 2016

I started school when I was 3 years old and i am toopof the year and have been contacted by a tv company for being smart I did half days for 1 year to get use to school then did full days from the age of 4 and i am fine

Florica said at 21:28 on 22 November 2016

They don't need to be "ready for school" whatever that means. They need to be healthy, confident and happy in themselves. That would clash with sitting down for hours and not being spoken to as an individual, or to being pushed around from one lesson to the next before being ready to move on. It would clash with most things that happen in school so the fact that most kids are not "ready" should be food for thought and a reason for asking ourselves: do they really need to be?!

Tanja said at 11:23 on 19 November 2016

I agree! Why is this only in UK everywhere else In Europe and most of the world is 6 years to start but you can even ask to start when child is 7. I started when I was 6 and in one year we learn how to write and read and two alphabets. Here they start at 4 and still by 6 don't know how read properly. That's obvious in two years child is much more ready and it can learn twice as much. Don't agree with any educational system in U.K.

JR said at 08:34 on 19 November 2016

I'' a retired teacher and you say five, but some of our children start school when they have only just turned four (August birthdays) and yes, so many are not socially ready for today's curriculum where ridiculous and often meaningless assessment begins from the word go!

Mubeena said at 12:34 on 15 November 2016

All children are different and those that need more help and support must not be deprived

Andrew Holden said at 11:30 on 14 November 2016

Total nonsense. In Finland kids don't go to formal school until age seven and they do better educationally than British kids packed off to school at five. Let kids learn through play and put decent resources into pre-school eduction that doens't squeeze creativity and inquisitiveness out of them.

Anelle Hughes said at 11:55 on 11 November 2016

This article must guide parents on how to help prepare their children in the early years to do well in school. The first five years are crucial to doing well in school but some feel it is better to let their children to only play to figure things out first for themselves. However, the interactive skills and focus required in school should be developed from home. Patents cannot assume only schools are fully responsible for their children's education so leave everything to the teachers. Imagine, in a one hour lessen period, by the time desk set up, coats off, computers out, time taken to put things away to reset classroom for the next lesson there is NOT ENOUGH TIME REALISTICALLY left to mind each child. So the number of minutes a child gets on personal level attention with over 30 children on average is not enough. With so much paper work reviews before and after lessons most teachers have too much demand of their time. Yes they are paid to teach yet it is easier for a child prepared at home given sound foundation to do better than the on one unprepared. So it is the parent's responsibility to ensure the child can identify alphabets, picture books with names of each image, drawing skills with colours known BEFORE going to school. Expensive designer toys and computers games delay and distract reading skills essential for achievement. Ideally, parents must teach a child at home as if the only teacher in the world TO ENHANCE their Knowledge. It is true Teachers do a great job within time frame available but supporting children's reading skill and supervising their homework is NOT CHEATING. Some parents think correcting spellings or pointing out errors, proof reading is cheating. No they do not know what they wrote is not correct so guide and train them from home. God says train a CHILD so when they grow they will not depart from what they are taught.

Nicol said at 21:41 on 06 November 2016

Both my sons born in July 8 yrs apart, because their birthdays fall wrong they start school afew weeks after their 4th birthday which is way to young, if I hold them back a year they miss out on reception class and go straight into year 1, so much is expected from them. My daughter has just turned 5 and is struggling but understands more. Just doesn't seem right

Stephen Rinsler said at 17:09 on 04 November 2016

With teachers who make the class interesting and varied, with spells of exercise and complete rest, with a little hug for some that found it a little hard to begin with we started school rising 5. It was really great. Not ready at 5, next it will be not ready at 6??

c.c. said at 10:45 on 03 November 2016

Let children to enjoy their childhood, build their personality and self esteem. Children should start the school at age 6 or 7 as European children. Anyway at the age of 14 their level of knowledge is higher than British children.

Trixy said at 14:43 on 31 October 2016

My husband and I are from Germany, where children start school from age 6. We were quite surprised that some children in the UK start school already when they have just turned 4 years old. I think there should be some more flexibility and it should be allowed for parents, who know their child best, to decide whether their child should start reception class at age 4 or 5.

C.G. said at 03:24 on 30 October 2016

I was forced back to pretty much full time work when my LO was 2, once this happened her learning began to slow dramatically. Surely this is not right. Don't get me wrong I enjoy working but it should be choice to work and/or stay home and help children blossom. My eldest is now 7 and thriving in her school (excellent school, so lucky) but this may not have turned out so well with her autism. We now also have a 4 month old and crossed fingers.

Diane salter said at 10:17 on 26 October 2016

What a load of rubbish all my grandchildren were ready for school at 5 and have all settled in well and are doing very well in reading and writing and love school

Jane Doe said at 11:29 on 18 October 2016

My children were eager to start school and learn. The difficulties they experienced were mainly to do with the behaviour of other children. Bullying and disruptive behaviour left them frustrated and upset. The other issue they had was boredom as classes, quite rightly, were geared to the majority with help for the less able. No thought was given to stretching the more able and asking for more work was seen as being a nuisance.

Linda said at 06:52 on 16 October 2016

My son started kindergarten at 3, very very ready to learn - every child is different but the common theme for success in adult-hood is support by parents and community - if the parents don't value education or work, the child suffers - the sooner children in that situation can get into pre-school, the better - they learn what their parents will not teach them & learn to be in a supportive community.

L Jones said at 19:36 on 14 October 2016

they are not ready for school - some kids - because we start them too young, and thanks to Michael Gove play based teaching has gone. Kids are losing their childhoods. we dont have kids or teenagers with good mental health. reception should get kids school ready. they are not meant to be "school ready" before that.

Liz said at 13:36 on 12 October 2016

My daughter, youngest in her year, was ready, my son, mid-year) wasn't although he coped well and was no trouble. 5 is far too young to start school in England.

Anne Macmillan said at 13:07 on 07 October 2016

Children in most continental European countries do not start primary school until seven years of age.....and international educational achievement tables consistently show that they perform far better education wise than do British children

Jamila said at 17:27 on 01 October 2016

Instead of the government trying to bring back grammar schools, why don't they raise the school starting age to six years old in line with the majority of the world. That would be much more beneficial.

Carolyn Keegan said at 10:13 on 01 October 2016

I'm sorry, I totally disagree both my children were ready for school . I stayed at home with my children they were like little sponges , outgoing & excited to learn from the word go experiencing everything indoors & Outdoors . They were quite capable little individuals which was suprising for me. They went on to Pre-school from 14 months before starting school at just age 4 for my son & age 5 for my daughter. I guess we gave them a good start in life which made them Confident , Happy & ready to learn .

Ita Wood said at 21:13 on 30 September 2016

Some children are as young as four, some children cope really well and for some school is their living nightmare.There is no 'perfect age' it is different for each child, but I do believe that the 'Campaign' launched by Action for Children making it a priority that every child is loved and supported and given the opportunity to reach their potential this should be a world wide commitment.

Mgt. G said at 09:30 on 28 September 2016

I too agree. My Grand-daughter was a very bright toddler. She talked early, knew 10 or more colours at the age of 2, knew left & right at the age of three & could do up her zips & large buttons at the same age. She was 4 in early August as she started school in September, I wasn't happy about that but her nursery said she 'was ready'. I feel she was pushed before she was ready, being a quiet introverted child. To me, her year in Reception was a waste of time & it was announced at the end of it 'she could now count to 20'.....she could do that before she even started school AND write her Christian name. She has now just begun Yr. 2 & is already needing special help for both English & Maths at school. What went wrong - we'd love to know.

Laura said at 21:24 on 27 September 2016

If only they were 5. In reality children here are as young as 3 yo when get introduced into schools environment. Even though psychologically they are about ready at the age of 7 to start learn.

Tara said at 10:54 on 23 September 2016

My son has just started school and is only just 4!!! I was so worried but he's aced it and loves it!

Chris Cabb said at 17:37 on 23 September 2016

I home schooled and my son has gone on to have a successful management career in finance and technology. He spent his childhood up trees and digging the garden up and riding bikes. Look abroad for varying educational models.

Elizabeth watson said at 12:57 on 18 September 2016


P.K said at 08:34 on 06 September 2016

Very true they aren't ready. They not given enough time to grow and be ready for school. It's even unhealthy for the 5 year olds. I said this longtime ago. Thank you for coming up with this subject.

Felix said at 06:59 on 03 September 2016

BTW I am 8 and I am in grade 4 and I started school in reception and I was 5 years old and I was really clever

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