Justine Greening has shown real leadership in creating a strategy for social mobility that recognises how disadvantage can hold children back from an early age.
We know that by the time they start school, children from poorer families are approximately 11 months behind their wealthier peers. The Government’s plans include welcome investment in high-quality school-based nurseries, but also a recognition that parents have a vital role in providing the best environment for learning at home.
The National Children’s Bureau has long championed the contribution of home learning to better outcomes in literacy and numeracy. Our Making It REAL programme works with practitioners across the country so they can support parents to understand how literacy develops, and make the most of everday opportunities to build their child’s reading and writing skills.
Vulnerable children / Children in need
Vulnerable children, including those in care and those with SEND are particularly likely to underperform at school. Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential recognises the extra help these children need and pledges a review of the ‘children in need’ system. We welcome commitments to ensure the exclusion process is only used as a last resort, for best practice in alternative provision for children with SEND to be shared widely and for investment that should make it easier for these children to take up places in mainstream schools.
Child poverty / benefits
The social mobility strategy provides a welcome focus on closing the education gap between rich and poor children. However, it will be a challenge for the Government to deliver a step change in social mobility in the face of on-going cuts to benefits and public services, and the projected dramatic rise in child poverty over the next five years. To be effective, this welcome strategy must form part of a wider cross-Government commitment to a country that works for all children.