Parents ‘should be taught how to talk to their children’ by nursery staff

 

Nurseries and children’s centres should be giving parents lessons in how to talk to their children in a bid to close the gap in performance between rich and poor pupils.

That is one of a series of radical recommendations of a report out today from the Fair Education Alliance, which finds there is still “a significant gap between the most and least deprived”, despite years of government initiatives aimed at solving the problem.

It warns: “The odds of a child from a state school who is eligible for free school meals being admitted to Oxbridge is still 2,000 to one.”

The report brings together 25 organisations involved in campaigning for better education standards, including Barnardo’s, Business in the Community, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Prince’s Trust.

They argue that children’s centres must train “language development champions” to help parents improve their children’s language skills.

By the time disadvantaged children leave the foundation stage at four they are already 20 percentage points behind their more affluent peers in reading and writing attainment. In maths, the gap is 18 percentage points.

The report also calls for spending on “pupil premium” funding of schools with disadvantaged pupils to be slashed by half – with the money saved targeted solely on children who have already fallen behind in the basics by the time they arrive at primary school.

The report is backed by Alan Milburn, the former MP who now heads the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. “If Britain is to become a fair society we need to do a lot more to break the link between someone’s social background and their chances of doing well in life,” he said.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “We welcome this report and share the Fair Education Alliance’s commitment to continuing to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers and at the same time raising the bar to ensure all pupils achieve their full potential.”

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