More needs to be done to improve education standards among young children, the government has announced.
While 60 per cent of children aged five are making good progress against the early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP), the gap between those from the most disadvantaged areas and their peers has remained at 12 per cent.
In addition to the socio-economic divide, there is also a gender gap, with 69 per cent of girls achieving a good level of development compared with 52 per cent of boys - particularly in writing.
In total, 66 per cent of children achieved at least the expected level of development in literacy and 72 per cent did so in mathematics.
The EYFSP was designed to prepare all children for school and life in modern Britain. It is based on a range of factors, such as how children play together, their ability to count to ten and write their own name.
Research has shown that high-quality early education can have a significant impact on people's future success, with children who attend pre-school more likely to get better GCSEs and projected to earn £27,000 more during their career than those who don’t.
Childcare and education minister Sam Gyimah said: "The statistics … clearly show that some progress is being made but more must be done to ensure children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are put on the right path.
Mr Gyimah pointed out that the government has provided support in the form of the early years pupil premium and the strengthening of qualifications.
"It’s now up to those who support our children to ensure they get the start in life they deserve - something parents and I both want to see," he added.
Chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years Liz Bayram said the organisation is looking forward to exploring how the 2-year-old offer and early years pupil premium can be used to improve education outcomes.
Posted by Harriet McGowan