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DfE statistics reveal inequalities at reception level

By Rachel Lawler

Just over half of children eligible for free school meals and less than a quarter of children with special education needs are achieving a "good level of development" by the end of reception, according to new statistics from the Department for Education (DfE).
In October, the DfE released statistics for results from the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Profile in 2016-17, showing that 70.7% of children in England achieve a "good level of development" by the end of reception – an increase of 1.4% since last year.
However, new figures which break down these results by ‘pupil characteristics’ show the number of children eligible for free school meals reaching this level of development is just 56%, compared to 73% of those not eligible for free school meals.
The statistics also demonstrated that just 23% of children with special educational needs reach a "good level of development" compared to 76% of children with no identified special educational needs.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: "Although we of course recognise that children are individuals who naturally learn and develop at different rates, this persistent trend of poorer children generally achieving lower EYFS Profile results than their wealthier peers is simply not acceptable."
'Equally, these statistics should serve as a sharp reminder to government of the need to ensure that children with special educational needs receive the support they both need and deserve in the early years. Far too often, we hear of providers struggling to deliver the level of care and education that children with SEN need dude to a lack of sufficient funding, and it is not right that many of these children continue to miss out on vital quality early years experiences as a result."
Neil called on the government to commit to adequate investment in the sector to ensure that every child has access to quality early years provision.
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