MPs can’t delay action to improve children’s futures.

Posted by Chloe Hardy / Wednesday 29 June 2016 / Early intervention
young boy looking straight to camera on white backdrop

Last week’s EU referendum made headlines in around the world. Overnight the attention of MPs, policymakers and pretty much everyone else in Britain, turned towards what leaving the EU will mean for the future.

What will the years ahead bring? No one knows, but it will be busy. There will be complex negotiations and plenty of new Bills in Parliament to shape new laws and regulations for a Britain outside of the EU.

But we can’t afford for the minds of MPs to be fixed on Brexit alone. There is plenty more that needs to be done at home that can’t fall by the wayside.

young girl looking down with slight smile on white backdrop

One in three children across England arrive at school not ready to learn. That is ten children in every reception class. There are even fewer children ready to start school from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 2015, only 51% of children on free school meals reached a good level of development by age five. This is compared to 69% of their peers. The gap has barely closed in the last three years.

Looking geographically, only 61% of children in the most deprived communities in England are ready for school. This is compared to 68% in the least deprived areas. The gap between these groups is actually growing.

This shouldn’t be something that any of us are willing to accept. Why? Because children who are not ready to learn, who are behind their peers, who are not achieving their potential even at this young age are at increased risk of poor health, worse employment prospects and lower educational attainment for the rest of their lives.

Action for Children have been calling for the Government to do more in the early years to help disadvantaged children. Our Fair by Five campaign, which launches today, is calling for good child development to be a national priority by 2020.

This must include a national measure at age five and greater support for parenting to help children at home.

We were making progress. The early years was making its way up the political agenda.

The Prime Minister gave a speech earlier this year and spoke about the importance of the early years and being ready for school. It has now been widely reported that he was set to launch a government strategy for improving disadvantaged children’s life chances just days after the referendum. Early years was set to feature prominently.

Following the Prime Minister’s resignation speech, the strategy has been shelved.

It was heartening to see the early years and disadvantaged children starting to get the attention it deserves. But we don’t know what the future holds now David Cameron is stepping aside.

But making sure children’s futures don’t become an afterthought for politicians is where you come in.

You can sign up to be a campaigner and help us keep disadvantage children at the top of the agenda – whoever steps into Downing Street next.


By being part of Fair by Five we can make sure MPs don’t let their leaders lose sight of how important it is to get things right for children in the early years.

Join the conversation.

Find out how you can become a campaigner, stay up to date with our latest tweets and join in the discussion on our blog.