A third of pupils aged five can't count to 10


Too many children are still starting school without the basic skills they need to be able to learn, the head of Ofsted has warned.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said that a ‘significant minority’ of youngsters across the country are ‘simply not ready’ for lessons.

More than a third continue to struggle to do simple tasks such as count to ten, write simple words or take turns speaking in class amid a shortage of ‘high quality’ provision.

Around two-fifths of all early years settings such as nurseries and childminders – 5,361 – are ‘not improving fast enough to give children the best start in life, including the skills they need to be ready for school’.

They have remained ‘satisfactory’ since the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage in 2008 which sets out what is expected of pre-school and reception children, according to Ofsted’s report.

Last year, teachers warned that  rising numbers of children were arriving at school still wearing nappies while others were struggling to speak properly.

Sir Michael insisted that ‘satisfactory’ provision was not effective enough to ‘close the attainment gap sufficiently quickly’.

The report – Getting It Right First Time – quotes 2012 Department for Education figures showing that 36 per cent of children start formal learning without a ‘good level of development’.

Children are supposed to be able to count reliably to ten, use language such as ‘circle’ or ‘bigger’ to describe shapes and sizes, interact with classmates and take turns to talk and show basic control of objects and tools by the time they start full-time school.

But 34 per cent of five-year-olds do not have a good level of  communication, language or literacy. Among children from poorer areas, the figure rises to more than four in ten.

Fifteen per cent of five-year-old boys in England cannot write their own name or short words like ‘cat’ or ‘dog’, compared with eight per cent of girls.

Some eight per cent of boys cannot count up to ten, compared with five per cent of girls.
Sir Michael said the best nurseries and childminders ‘ensure children are given clear routines and procedures that help build self-assurance’.

He added that ‘their staff are highly skilled adults who improve the vocabulary, cognitive and social skills of very young children, particularly when they are not able to gain them at home’.

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