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UK: It’s time to change the story for our poorest children

Britain remains one of the least fair countries in the developed world. Grow up in the UK today and your opportunities and chances in life can be largely determined by the time you’re seven – not because of your own ability or efforts but because of the economic circumstances you are born into.

Chances determined by seven

In our report, Too Young to Fail, we show that if you are living in poverty and you are behind at the age of seven, you only have a one in six chance of achieving five good GCSEs at 16 (grades A*-C, including English and maths).

And if you leave school without a good set of GCSEs, you have a slimmer chance of being able to get a good job and earn a good wage as an adult.

A cost to us all

This matters to us all. There is huge wasted potential in children falling behind early in their lives and this matters for our future economic growth.

Modelling for this report based on research from Stanford University found that if the UK had in recent years taken action to ensure that no child was behind by the end of primary school, the gains to the economy could have been around £30billion by 2020.

And it doesn’t have to be like this. One of the reasons that countries with top performing education systems, like Canada and Finland, do so well is that they make sure that their poorest children don’t fall behind.

Changing the story for our poorest children

There is a crucial window of opportunity in children’s early years. We need to ensure that no child falls behind by the age of seven: it is much harder for them to catch up once they are older.

That is why Save the Children is partnering with Beanstalk to launch the Born to Read programme, to assist primary-school children who are falling behind in their reading and enable them to catch up.

Of course, reading is not the only aspect of a good education. But being able to read is a crucial skill: no child who grows up reading poorly will be able to take full advantage of the opportunities that life in the UK should offer.

And so we are calling on the public to join us. In the coming years, we’ll work hard to stop thousands of children falling behind but to do this we’ll need your help – to campaign for change, fundraise and get involved.

We believe that all children should have a fair start in life. Don’t you?

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