New figures show North East children who are about to start school are below the national average for development, including in their basic literacy and numeracy skills.
The Department for Education figures have prompted a debate on why our youngsters are not at the same standard as children elsewhere in England.
Union leaders claims that cuts to early years education have had a damaging effect.
Rachel Bullock reports.
Pre-school children in the North East have the worst maths and literacy test performances in the UK.
Figures released by the Department of Education show that in some areas - before children even reach primary school - less than half have met the expected goals for their age group.
North East MPs say more resources are needed to make sure young people in deprived areas are not starting school at a lower level.