Life chances are virtually determined if you're behind in the 'three R's' by age of seven - Save the Children (From The Northern Echo)
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Life chances are virtually determined if you're behind in the 'three R's' by age of seven - Save the Children
POOR children in the North-East who are behind in the "three Rs" at the age of seven already have their life chances virtually determined, according to Save the Children.
In a new report entitled "Too Young to Fail," the charity said being behind at reading, writing and arithmetic at such a young age could prejudice a child's future earnings, health and, in economic terms, cost the country billions in lost revenue.
Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of the poorest children in the North-East - defined as those who receive school meals - fall short of the expected levels in reading. They are almost two and half times more likely that their better-off peers to fall behind.
Across the North-East, the 1,600 poor children that are behind at seven years old will have less than a one in six chance of getting five good GCSEs, the charity added.
By the time they are seven, nearly 80 per cent of the difference in GCSE results between rich and poor children has already been determined.
Save the Children says the first two years at school is a crucial window during which to close the attainment gap - but most of the education system is geared towards assessing attainment at age 11.
Wihtout improvements there is a risk that one in five will not be able to read properly by the age of seven, the report said.
The charity says there has to be more focus and investment on primary age children because failing to help the poorest primary-age children catch up at school could cost the UK economy £30bn in untapped potential by 2030, slowing the country's recovery from recession and preventing it from competing effectively internationally.
Save the Children is today launching a nationwide "Born to Read" programme - in partnership with Beanstalk - to get 23,000 children across the United Kingdom reading over the next four years.
Elizabeth Budgen, a volunteer helper at Bowburn Infant School, in County Durham, for over a year, said: "If children find reading difficult, try and find something that would interest them, something that does encourage them and perhaps something that is easy. For me, the best thing about being a reading helper is the children. They are a delight."
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