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Only 55% of children receiving free school meals reach a "good level of development"

By Rachel Lawler
child drawing notepad
Only 55% of children receiving free school meals reach a “good level of development” according to the latest statistics from the Department for Education (DfE).
The government previously shared statistics from the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, showing that 71.5% of all children reach a “good level of development” with an average score of 34.6.
The DfE has since shared additional statistics on the performance of children depending on several characteristics.
Free school meals
These figures show that children known to be receiving free schools are less likely to reach the standards of the Early Learning Goals than their those who are not.
The statistics show a slight increase from 2017, when just 54% of children receiving free school meals reached a “good level of development”.
Persistant gap
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “We know that a quality early education sets our youngest children up for a lifelong love of learning - and while it's important to remember that all children are individuals who develop at their own pace, it's still very concerning to see that the gap between the number children eligible for free school meals and their peers achieving a ‘good level of development’ at the end of reception is continuing to persist.
“At a time when the government continues to stress the importance of social mobility, it's clear that much more needs to be done that much more needs to be done to ensure that all children, and especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, are given the best possible start to their educational journeys.
“Today's figures similarly reinforce the need to ensure that children with special educational needs are given the best possible support in their earliest years. We know all too well that many children who need extra support in order to flourish struggle to enjoy the same opportunities as their peers, and it's vital that action is taken by government to address this.
“The fact is that while ministers talk a good game when it comes to improving children’s life chances, their inaction speaks louder. If the government truly wants to ensure children of every background can access quality provision, then they need to ensure there is adequate investment in the early years.”
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