Some slightly mixed messages from the government yesterday. Labour MP Pat Glass argued that 0-5 was a vital period in a child’s development. Leader of the House Sir George Young, however, responded that he was “not sure that that is entirely the case”. Did Sir George miss DPM Nick Clegg’s speech complaining that “by the age of three, there is a cumulative gap of 30 million heard words between rich and poor children”? Or indeed Frank Field’s Independent Review into Poverty and Life Chances? In his recent Attlee Memorial Lecture Field said that:
A child with poor cognitive development at the age of five is, a full two decades later, less than a third as likely to have progressed to A levels and nearly six times as likely to end up with no real qualifications at all, when compared to a child with good development at age five.
Sir George’s comments are disappointing. It’s hard enough for councils to make the case for early intervention as they wrestle with massive spending reductions. But it’ll make it more or less impossible if the government goes around undermining its own arguments on early intervention with careless comments like this.