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Children under five in poverty are 'falling behind' classmates

50,000 children are estimated to be living in poverty in Wales Credit: PA

The poorest children in Wales are falling behind in education and are unlikely to ever catch up with their classmates, a charity has warned.

Save the Children say too many children in Wales are falling behind before they even start school.

The report by the charity reveals around a third of children living in poverty are already behind their peers by the age of 5, and nearly half of those stay in the lowest performing groups at later stages.

30-35%
of children living in poverty are already falling behind.
50,000
of children under 5 are living in poverty, the charity says.
45%
of children living in income deprivation in Wales are not eligible for Flying Start.

Save the Children say getting it right in the early years can help the poorest children stay ahead in education and adult life.

Their concern lies in access, or the lack thereof, to high quality early years provision and support which they say say is left to 'chance for too many children in Wales.'

Flying Start, the early years programme is for families living in disadvantaged communities in Wales. Eligible families are entitled to two-and-a-half hours of free childcare a day, five days a week for children under 4.

But, on average, 45% of children living in deprivation in Wales are not eligible.

Now the charity is calling on the Welsh Government to make a number of changes:

  • A single, simple and coherent system for high quality early education and care.
  • Establish a sole minister for all early childhood education and care, Welsh language provision, and tackling the attainment gap.
  • Ensure equal access to high quality ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) for all children in Wales especially for children living in poverty.

The Welsh Government welcome the report.

It says they are committed to 'breaking the cycle of of deprivation' and poverty, but that it must ensure all programmes come together 'seamlessly' with the limited resources:

We welcome the report by Save the Children. Breaking the cycle of deprivation and poverty is a long term commitment for this government, and we fully recognise the fundamental importance of early years in achieving this. In Prosperity for All, we have set out our vision for early years and key actions during this Assembly to ensure children in Wales from all backgrounds have the best start in life.

As the report recognises, we have invested in a wide range of early years programmes. However, we need to ensure all programmes and services for the early years come together seamlessly to get the best value for parents and children, from the limited resources available. Prosperity for All includes a specific commitment to address this by creating a more joined up, responsive system that puts the unique needs of each child at its heart.

– Welsh Government Statement