According to a report from a group of MPs, children in the UK already have their future mapped out by the time they are just three years old.
The study shows that the distance between rich and poor families in Britain becomes so ingrained in youngsters, that by the time they are ready for nursery, their prospects are more or less already decided.
The All Party Group on Social Mobility concluded that in the UK, families ‘lag behind’ those overseas in helping children to develop to achieve their potential. They quoted sources which revealed that in Britain, the performance of toddlers was very closely linked to the wealth of their parents, with those in the poorest households bottom of the pile.
The MPs used data from a study carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which looked at how closely it was possible to predict the future, simply by looking at a family’s background. And it discovered that in the UK, half of all children showed little or no social mobility, damning those from less affluent backgrounds to struggle with poverty.
Researchers also discovered that children from wealthier households were more likely to have been read to by their parents, with 78% enjoying a daily story, compared to just 42% from poverty-struck homes. Parents who were better off were also found to have a stricter bedtime routine for their children, a factor which could help contribute to toddlers becoming ready for nursery aged just 3.
Children from less affluent homes were also found to have a greater probability of being hyperactive and less likely to score well in vocabulary tests.
The ministers said in order to address the divide, there needed to be better education available for children from poorer homes, including summer camps and means testing at top schools.