Report highlights children’s lagging development

More than half of all five-year-old children in Newham are lagging behind development expected by teachers, according to a report.

The report, called Fair Society, Healthy Lives, was commissioned by the London Health Observatory to provide charts showing key indicators for monitoring health inequalities, as local authorities will soon be taking over the responsibility for public health.

It has recommended action focusing on the importance of tackling social inequalities in reducing health inequalities. The research was led by Sir Michael Marmot, the president of the British Medical Association.

Among the indicators is children achieving a good level of development at the age of five. The research found that whereas nationally just under half (44 per cent) of all five-year-olds are not considered by their teachers to have a good development in their first year at school, in Newham the figure is 55 per cent.

Councillor Quintin Peppiatt, executive member for children and young people at Newham Council, said: “There is a clear connection between child development and poverty and we are one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. However, we believe this should not be used as an excuse. Instead we are focusing our resources and efforts on raising educational aspirations and expectations.”

Peter Goldblatt, the Marmot Review’s statistician, told the Recorder : “What we are saying is that Newham is quite a way behind the England average in terms of children achieving a level of development at the age five.

“The poverty and deprivation in the borough is going to be a large part of the cause of this. The language skills that the majority of children have will not be assessed by the teachers as having good language skills because of the large mix of languages spoken.”

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He said the mix of contributory factors in Newham presented a difficult environment for the local authority however he stressed that every child in the borough needed early years provision, perhaps in a community specific setting. The greater the diversity in a borough, the greater the resources it would need, he said.