Debate of the week: Education needs an early start

by Emily

According to new research, children growing up in the poorest fifth of families in the UK are already nearly a year behind children from other families in vocabulary tests by the time they are five.

The research was published by the Sutton Trust, which aims to promote social mobility through education. In it, 12,500 British five year olds were surveyed with reading and vocabulary tests. The results found that good parenting and a supportive home environment were the most important influencers, with children who benefited from both scoring more highly in their tests.

Just under half of children from the poorest fifth of families were read to daily at age 3, compared with 8 in 10 of children from the most affluent families.

Often, children find it difficult to catch up after such a poor start and their parents cannot afford private tutors.Whilst at First Tutors, we have sought to make private tutoring as affordable as possible (some of our tutors charge as little as £9 per hour) we acknowledge that it can be difficult, particularly in a recession.

That's why we support the principles behind the government's initiative to provide one-to-one tutoring for those struggling the most in class. As most families who have tried tutoring know, one-to-one tuition is a very effective way to learn and the government's funding of this scheme endorses that perspective.

But what if tutoring isn't an option? Try reading together as a simple way to get their education off to a great start. If you have small children, try reading to them every day - even if it's just for ten minutes. If you don't have children of your own, why not volunteer to help teach reading at your local primary school?