Michael Dugher, Barnsley East MP, is calling on ministers to invest more in education after shock figures revealed one in five local youngsters are failing to reach speech and language standards.
The Save the Children charity released new figures that showed 22% of five-year-olds in Mr Dugher’s constituency did not reach the expected level of speech and language skills in 2015.
For those five-year-olds on free school meals in Barnsley East, the number of those who did not meet the expected speech and language standards was even higher at 37% – one of the worst levels in the country.
And, 76% per cent of five-year-olds at independent nurseries in Barnsley East did not have access to a qualified Early Years Teacher – the equivalent of 90 children who are missing out.
The figures were released as MPs condemned the Government for failing to hit teacher recruitment targets across the country for the last five years.
Mr Dugher, a parliamentary champion for Save the Children, said the figures were further evidence of the damaging impact of Government spending cuts on Barnsley.
School budgets in Barnsley are predicted to shrink in real terms by £6.6 million by 2019/20, according to research released by teaching unions last month.
Said Mr Dugher: “Children in Barnsley deserve the best start in life. But these new figures show that more than one in five are not reaching the expected level of speech and language skills at the age of five.
“That is simply not good enough and is yet more evidence of the damaging impact of Government spending cuts on Barnsley.
“As a parliamentary champion of Save the Children, I’m backing their campaign to get the Government to invest £65 million across the country in places like Barnsley to improve nursery education.
“Children who are most likely to struggle at school need access to a specialist Early Years Teacher to help them reach the required academic standards.
“Constituents have contacted me about the lack of Early Years Teachers and I’ve written to the Childcare Minister Caroline Dinenage to ask what action she plans to take to make sure Barnsley schools get a fair deal.”
“It’s time the Government got a grip to deal with the crisis facing our schools.”