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A new report highlights what is needed to get children ‘Ready to Read’

June 2015

On 29th June a report was published giving new information about the challenge of getting all children reading well by age 11. The report was published by the Read On. Get On. coalition, of which I CAN is a founder member. The report tells us that a major problem in getting children reading well is the number of children under 5 that don’t have the language skills they’ll need for reading. This is especially the case for children living in poverty. This important report gives more information about the size of the problem and what we would like to see to help tackle it, as well as the key influences on the development of early language: parents, home environment, poverty and early childcare and education.

While we already know about the link between children’s early language and later reading ability, the report gives us new information from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) data and analysis of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile data. The information tells us:

  • Many young children have poor language skills, particularly in deprived areas. Currently, one in four young children are not reaching the expected level of language development, and as many as one in three (33%) of children growing up in poverty.
  • Children living in poverty are more likely to fall behind. Children growing up in poverty who are doing well with language at age three are more likely than children from wealthier backgrounds to fall behind by the age of five. This is particularly so for children who experience persistent poverty.
  • It is harder for children living in poverty who start off with delayed language development to change. A child from a family in poverty who is performing poorly at age three is much more likely to continue to have delayed language than a child from a wealthier family.
  • New evidence on the link between early language and reading. In particular, it shows that children who live in poverty persistently throughout the early years are much less likely to do as well as other children in reading at age seven.

The Read On. Get On. coalition proposed action in three key areas to ensure children have good early language skills by age five, when they start school: a skilled workforce, better support and information for parents, systems for tracking young children’s progress in language. Read more about the report and these actions here.