Five-year-old children arrive in primary school still in NAPPIES and unable to speak or recognise their own name
- Poor British white boys less likely to succeed than nearly any other group
- More than 60 per cent of primary school staff reported increase in number of children wetting or soiling themselves at school
- Almost one fifth of four-to-five-year-olds could not sound or name the letters of the alphabet
- Report suggested that traditionally white working class families put a low value on education
Teachers are having to toilet train five-year-old children who come into school in nappies and are unable to say their own name, a report exposing the 'heart-breaking' educational failures in England has warned.
More than 60 per cent of primary school staff said they had noticed an increase in the number of children wetting or soiling themselves at school during the past five years, according to a survey quoted in the report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).
And staff in some schools said they routinely carried disposable gloves to clean up after pupils who were not potty trained.
Behind: The report said some children started school acting as if they were 12 to 18 months old
The chairman of the working group that drew up the report, Sir Robin Bosher, he said that one in ten children in each class he had seen was 'so unsociable that they hurt others, adults and other young children'.
Education experts who put together the survey for the right-wing think tank said they had been told of children entering primary school at the age of four who 'commonly act as though they are 12 to 18 months old'.
They added that 19 per cent of four-to-five-year-olds could not sound or name letters of the alphabet or link sounds to letters, and six per cent of boys did not know English was read from left to right.
The report, which looked at education in England between 2007 and 2012, blamed 'shockingly acute disadvantage' in children's home lives that 'stretches the capacity of schools and threatens to place those children at a disadvantage for the rest of their school careers'.
The CSJ also warned that pupils from poor white families - particulary white British boys - were in danger of becoming an 'educational underclass' as they slipped further behind children from ethnic minorities.
White British boys from the poorest families – already the lowest achievers – are now half as likely as boys from impoverished Chinese or Indian families to get good qualifications and far less likely to succeed than boys from the worst-off black Caribbean or African families.
Performance discrepancy: Girls from poor white British families are doing marginally better than their male counterparts but they are both falling behind
White girls from worse-off families are also far adrift of their contemporaries in ethnic and cultural minorities, the analysis by the Centre for Social Justice said.
Mark Edwards, the principal of Manston St James Primary Academy in Leeds, said: 'Sometimes I see children arriving at school aged four or five unable to string a sentence together, almost completely unable to speak. I can easily spot which children have not gone to nursery. These children get easily frustrated, explaining why some bite or lash out in the classroom.'
The CSJ blamed the low aspirations of poor white families, benefit dependency and the failure of schools to encourage white children in the same way they have tried to help minority children.
Janet Cooper, programme manager at Stoke Speaks Out, which tackles language delay in the Staffordshire city, told researchers: 'I believe most parents love their children but do not have the knowledge and skills to promote their development fully.
Widening gap: The underachievement of poor white children has become even more pronounced
'Parents do not always realise the significance of the first three years when the majority of brain development is taking place, and fall foul of marketing of dummies, forward-facing buggies, bottles, TV, game stations, iPods.
'Many parents opt for what they think is an easy life – putting the child in front of the TV – but do not realise that this will cause them more issues in the long run.'
The report, from the pressure group founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, called for further and faster education reform to reverse the educational decline among poor white British children.
Christian Guy, director of the CSJ, said: ‘These figures are sobering. They suggest that despite much money and effort white working-class boys are in danger of becoming an educational underclass.
‘We need to take a close look at the reasons behind this growing inequality and re-assess the measures we are taking to close the performance gap.’
The deepening failure of white boys in school was first noticed a decade ago and the widening gap is set out in figures for those on free school meals and who gain five A* to C GCSE grades, including English and maths.
Only 26 per cent of white boys on free school meals reached the benchmark last year, compared to 40 per cent of black boys.
Among all pupils who have free school meals, 36 per cent achieve good GCSE grades. More than two thirds of Chinese pupils from poor families hit the target mark and more than half of those from Indian or Bangladeshi families.
Non-British whites from poor families, including boys whose parents come from Eastern Europe, have similar levels of achievement to black boys. Despite efforts under two governments to improve the performance, the gap has widened rather than narrowed.
White boys are 0.5 per cent down on their 2007 levels, while black boys are up by 3.9 per cent.
Girls from poor white British families are doing marginally better, with 35 per cent hitting the GCSE target, compared to 41 per cent of all girls from poor backgrounds.
Educational underclass: White working class boys' grades have slipped even further behind their peers'
Only Roma gypsy and Irish traveller children do worse than poor white British children.
The report said that traditionally white working class families put a low value on education because high qualifications were not necessary to get jobs in industry.
Their attitudes have lagged behind as the economy has been transformed.
Worklessness in regions that were once heartlands of heavy industry has also taken its toll.
The CSJ quoted a Midlands headteacher saying: ‘Families where generations of parents have been on benefits have created dependency and a lack of aspiration and ambition.’
The report also pointed to Ofsted findings that some schools had effective programmes for helping minority children but little for white British pupils in trouble.
The report was drawn up by a group headed by Sir Robin Bosher, a former primary school head who now leads the Harris Federation of academy schools.
He said: ‘Educational failure is too common in our current system. It affects disadvantaged children and makes reform urgent.'
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