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Foundation stage profile results show growing inequality gap

By Rachel Lawler
 
Foundation Stage results
Statistics from the government’s early years foundation stage profile show that the gap between all children and the lowest scoring 20% is starting to grow.
 
The percentage inequality gap rose to 31.8% in 2018, up from 31.7% in 2017.
 
While this is still down from 36.6%, as reported in 2013, the gap has now been growing for two years in a row, increasing from 31.4% in 2016.
 
Regional differences
The report also highlights stark regional differences across England.
 
The percentage of children reaching a “good level of development” varies from 80.5% in Richmond upon Thames to just 63.9% in Middlesborough.
 
Alliance concerns
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “It is encouraging to see that the percentage of children achieving a good level of development has improved, albeit by a small amount. This is thanks to the dedicated, professional early years workforce who continue to do their best for society’s youngest children despite the lack of proper government funding. However there are warning signs that the inequality gap is beginning to widen again, with significant variations between local authorities, which show wider gaps in predominantly poorer or rural areas.
 
“Government underfunding of early years education hits all childcare providers hard, but more so those that operate in poorer or rural areas because often parents cannot afford to pay for the private hours or voluntary extras that providers are forced to charge to make up the funding shortfall. We are in danger of damaging the life chances of our most vulnerable children at a crucial time in their development. As a society this could cost us much, much more in the future than adequately funding early years education now.”