Advanced search

Browse your search results by sector:

Browse by audience:


Literacy news

Quarter of four year olds start primary school without vital skills, study shows

27 Mar 2015

Research released today shows that one in four children, particularly those from poor communities, start primary school in England without the necessary language and communication skills.

The analysis from the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) also found that a fifth of children, some 40,000 girls and 82,000 boys, currently lack personal, social and emotional development by the age of four.

The findings emphasise the gap between children from low and high income homes, with a 19 percentage point difference between disadvantaged children who showed a “good level of development” and their more advantaged peers.  

 The National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Together programme addresses the importance of laying the foundations for the development of communication and literacy skills in the early years, tackling intergenerational problems of low literacy. The targeted programme identifies and engages families in need of support and has shown to have a significant impact on children’s early language, literacy and communication to increase school and nursery readiness.

A recent independent evaluation from the University of Coventry found that 86% of parents who took part in the programme now talk more with their preschool children, helping to prepare them for education. The findings also show an increase in children’s understanding of spoken language, with standardised scores increasing to nearer the normal range after taking part.

The Head of Early Years Foundation Stage at Hemlington Hall Academy in Middlesbrough said of the programme:

“Children on entry to nursery have been observed to be significantly more ‘nursery ready’ – concentrating effectively, being able to listen, having greater confidence, speaking in sentences, having a wider vocabulary, understanding and having the confidence to engage with stories.”

Our parent facing website, Words for Life, also helps parents to understand and fulfil their role in supporting their children’s literacy development from an early age. The website features tips, developmental milestones, downloadable resources and input from bestselling authors.

The National Literacy Trust and the Early Intervention Foundation are both supporting the ‘Stitch in time’ campaign, which focuses on early intervention for children to help prevents crises and overcome problems before they start.  

Tags: Early Words Together, Early Years, Early years sector, Families

Return to literacy news


The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.