Thrive at Five: Comparative child development at school-entry age
Published: November 2012
We explored the development of children from different socio-economic backgrounds at the age they start school to see if children who grow up in poverty are at a serious disadvantage to their classmates.
Children born into poverty are much more likely to face development difficulties when starting school
- They are twice as likely as children not in poverty to have developmental difficulties when they begin school.
- They are four times as likely as children from the most affluent backgrounds to have developmental difficulties.
The gap is evident across all five key developmental areas
When they start school, children who grow up in poverty are:
- almost twice as likely as other children to have difficulties with their physical development;
- twice as likely as other children to face difficulties with their emotional development;
- 50% more likely than other children to face difficulties with their social development;
- 40% more likely than other children to face difficulties with their cognitive development;
- twice as likely as other children to face difficulties with their communication development.
Parental education is major factor
Children whose parents have low or no qualifications are:
- twice as likely to have poor developmental health at school-entry age as those whose parents are educated to Higher level or above;
- more than three times as likely to face these difficulties as those with parents educated to degree level.
Children born into poverty have limited post-school opportunities
By the time young people who have grown up in poverty leave the school system, the opportunities open to them have already been seriously, often irrevocably, limited.
- More than one-fifth of school leavers from deprived areas go straight into unemployment upon leaving school – double the national average (around one in 10).
- A mere 18% of young people who grow up in poverty go to university after leaving school – half of the average rate. As a result, they are more likely to remain in poverty into adulthood, and so too are their own family and children.
Using longitudinal data from the Growing Up in Scotland study, we compared developmental health for children with different socio-economic characteristics.
Read the report