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.
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: