Shout out for the girls as gender gap shows boys' language skills are way behind as school starts
Education chiefs in South Tyneisde say they are already addressing the gap which puts girls ahead of boys in their basic language communication skills as they start school.
A Save the Children report puts South Tyneside as the second worst council area in England for the difference between the two genders.
The national study found children are struggling to speak in full sentences or follow simple instructions, crucial skills when it comes to learning to read and write.
Boys are less likely to take part in activities including story-telling and nursery rhymes, stay focused on a task or have the concentration, motivation and self-confidence to learn.
In the long term, it can impact on job prospects, health, relationships and behaviour.
In South Tyneside, 33% of boys did not meet the standard, while 17% of girls failed to reach the level, with a gender gap of 15.9% identified through the University of Bristol research.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for children, young people and families, said it had been working with nurseries to take action.
She added: “We recognised some years ago that we needed to address children’s early development and the quality of our childcare offer. “The gender gap is compounded by an imbalance in the numbers of boys and girls in recent years, with up to 80 more boys than girls per year group.
“We have invested significantly in provision for our two-year-olds and we have the highest uptake nationally of the funded early education offer at 91%.
“Every child taking up their entitlement since 2013 has been included in our Basket of Opportunities child development programme which focuses on the three prime areas of development, in particular communication and language.
“Nurseries and schools also run very effective targeted literacy development programmes such as the Raising Early Achievement in Literacy programme for children aged three to four.
“Following the increase in entitlement to 40% in 2014, we are already starting to see a real impact.
“This year’s scores for language and communication at age five show a significant reduction in the gender gap for all elements.
“We know that we still have work to do to address standards overall, but we are confident that the improvements in 2016 will be replicated in future years.”