Briefing 51: Poorer Children are already disadvantaged before they even start school

Differences in income hinder children's progress from a very young age

Poorer children are less likely to be ready for school meaning it is more difficult for them to make progress in their education

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Explaining the data

Academics analysed a group of children at the age of 3 and 5, comparing their school readiness and their reading age. They compared the average score for each income group, ranging from the richest fifth to the poorest fifth, to the overall median. In each category, Children in the poorest fifth averaged a score that was well below the overall median, while the richest fifth were significantly above the median. So, for example, the average 3 year old born into the richest fifth of the population scored 63 (meaning a score higher than 63% of all children) for school readiness, while the average score in the poorest fifth was just 32. Obviously, the median for all 3 year olds was 50, below the richest, but above the poorest. This chart is taken from Professor John Hills’s book ‘Good Times, Bad Times: the welfare myth of them and us’ published by ‘Policy Press’ in November 2014.

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