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Research and policy

Policy: The Good Childhood Inquiry

1 Feb 2009


In February 2009, The Children's Society led a national, independent inquiry into what makes for a good childhood. Through listening to the voices and views of children, young people and adults, the inquiry aimed to identify issues facing children and you

The final report is available from

Speaking and listening

Speaking and listening is considered in evidence summary three - learning and is outlined below:

In the foreword, by Bob Reitemeier, the decline in children's speech and language skills was highlighted:

Additionally, teachers are expressing concerns that language and speech standards in young children starting nursery and primary school are falling. This suggests we need to look beyond schooling to the home environment and social conditions, two of the most important influences on children. For example, at the age of two, a child's cognitive development is a good predictor of future attainment, and by the age of six, children from disadvantaged homes are overtaken by children in better-off families.

(Foreword, the Good childhood, a national inquiry, evidence summary three - learning)

In Good childhood: what you told us about learning, speech and language was highlighted further:

The importance of facilitating speech and language development

Speech and language development was emphasised as the foundation for all learning. A number of submissions raised concerns about an apparent increase in children with poor speech and language skills.

"Over the past ten or so years, early years teachers have been reporting that a significant proportion of children enter school with very poor speaking skills. Children don't get the chances they used to, to practise talking at home. Equally concerning is the fact that the school curriculum doesn’t allow for much sustained talk either."

Educational provision during early years

There was a consensus of opinion that the quality of learning in the early years is vital for a good childhood. It was thought that there should be a greater emphasis on childcare provision with one submission suggesting that the early years workforce should be paid as well as teachers. Other submissions called for a later start to primary school with most agreeing that formal education should not begin before the age of six and that children should be allowed to develop at their own pace.

"Educational targets and assessments at early stages in a child's life 'cabin crib and confine' exploration and enterprise. Formal education before the age of seven can also be seen as an inhibiting factor in the true childhood business of exploration and creativity."

(the Good childhood, a national inquiry, evidence summary three - learning)

Evidence summary three - learning can be downloaded from

For more information on The Good Childhood Inquiry visit

Tags: Policy, TTYB policy, Talk To Your Baby

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