WIGAN is the fourth worst-performing local authority in the country for five-year-olds failing to reach a good level of development at the end of their first year’s schooling.
Around 38 per cent of five-year-olds in the borough were deemed to have failed to reach the expected level of achievement in the classroom at the end of their reception year, with only Leicester, Gateshead and Halton faring worse.
The figures, published by University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, show just 52 per cent of five-year-old pupils in England achieved a good level of development.
Institute director Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who has been monitoring health inequalities since 2010, said England had one of the worst levels of early-years achievements in the West and the situation was getting worse, with the 52 per cent figure a reduction from 59 per cent achieving good development in 2011.
Sir Michael said: “We continue to fail our children. It is unacceptable that only half of our five-year-olds are achieving a good level of development.
“When we first looked at these figures we assumed there must be something wrong with the measuremement.
“One strategy for reducing these avoidable inequalities in early childhood development is to reduce deprivation and improve living standards for families with children.”
Sir Michael said he believes poor performance is related to the quality of services supporting children and criticised the decision to close Sure Start centres, while also calling for taxes and transfers to reduce childhood inequality and tackle deprivation.
He also expressed concern over the Department for Education’s decision to scrap mandatory tests for children’s development, which look at areas including maths and literacy skills, physical development, communication and language skills and personal, social and emotional development.
Wigan Council was unable to comment at the time of going to press.