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UK 'lagging behind other nations in terms of reading gap for those starting school'

16/12/2016 Joanna

The UK is lagging behind a number of other leading nations in its efforts to reduce the reading skills gap between the richest and poorest youngsters in the country.

Research conducted by Columbia University, the London School of Economics and Stanford University has been published by the Sutton Trust, highlighting the difference in reading attainment between the richest and poorest children at the point when they begin school in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

The gap was shown to be largest in the US, where disadvantaged pupils are behind by about a year before they even start school, but was only slightly smaller in the UK at about eight months.

Educational inequality was much less pronounced in Australia and Canada in this respect, with children of the least educated parents lagging an estimated six months behind their better-off peers.

Of particular concern was the fact that attainment gaps in both the US and UK are much larger now than they were 40 to 60 years ago, even though some progress on this front has been achieved in the past decade. Declining levels of social mobility were cited as a cause for this.

This comes after recent Sutton Trust research showed an overall school readiness gap between the poorest and richest pupils in the UK of 12 to 19 months, underlining the importance of tackling this issue as soon as possible.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: "There is a large difference between the reading attainment of the richest and poorest children in both the US and the UK. Tackling this disparity early on is critical to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and reducing inequality.

"We need to make sure that every child has access to high-quality early years education, so that rich and poor children arrive at school on a more equal footing."

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