An upcoming report on education in the United Kingdom finds that a larger than normal number of students entering elementary school are lacking basic skills, like being able to pronounce their name, drink from a cup, or beome toilet trained.
The report due out sometime this week is sponsored by the London Times Education Commission, set up by the publication in May 2021 to investigate the state of the country's education system in the wake of COVID-19, declining social mobility, new technology, and the changing work environment.
The commission is comprised of 23 commissioners with backgrounds in business, education, science, the arts, and government, according to the publication.
According to the Times, a Nottinghamshire primary teacher said that primary students aged 4-5 were coming into the school system unable to say their own names, still drinking from baby bottles, and not being trained to use the toilet.
"We've got about 50% of the children in reception and nursery who are not toilet trained. We have to employ care workers just to change nappies," she told the Times Commission. "We've got children who are still drinking from bottles with teats when they start school. They are four-years old, and their language will include the word 'bot-bot,' because that's their communication for 'Can I have a drink please?' "
According to the Times report on the upcoming final report from the commission, data shows that almost a third of five-year-old students in England are showing the appropriate level of development, and poorer students are as much as five months behind their richer classmates when they start school, a gap that could widen to 18 months by the time they reach age 16.
A recent YouGov poll, commissioned by the early years' charity Kindred Spirit, saw the number of children not having the needed school entry skills increase from 35% in 2019 to 46% in 2020, the paper reported.
"We always have a significantly high proportion of children who are not school ready, about half," a teacher from West Yorkshire said in that survey. "This year it's probably 80-90%."
The final report reportedly shows issues relating to the COVID-19 lockdowns, but also includes several areas that "pre-date" the pandemic.
Kindred Spirits Director Felicity Gillespie told the publication that there needs to be a conversation between educators and parents about what it means to be ready for school.
"Some will blame parents, but we all want the best for our children and teachers say what isn't being made clear enough to parents is what being developmentally ready for school actually means," she told the publication. "We need a new national conversation about parenting and the state's role in our children's development."
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