Thursday, 30 September 2010
Narrowing the gap - imagine a journey
If you look at a third group of children, whose development is not so strong at two years old, but who come from better-off families, you will see them rapidly catching up with those children from poorer families who were originally well ahead. By the end of Key Stage One, the better-off children have overtaken them - even though they started so far behind.
It is fair at this point to voice some objections. Measurements of child development at two with a score will have problems with reliability. Perhaps most significantly, this data comes from well before the recent period of intense focus, and heavy investment, in the early years. Things might have got better. For example, where I work in the east end of London, children's overall attainment by the end of their primary school education is higher than the national average. On some measures, GCSE results are also above the national average. This is despite Tower Hamlets having the highest levels of child poverty in London. And despite all that, there is a great deal more work to do to give children in the east end of London a fairer start in life.
In England, when it comes to child development, it is your family's wealth which matters most, not your early potential. I think we should feel, if not ashamed, then at least deeply uneasy by the way that poverty can crush the early potential of so many children.