Boys fall behind on language

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Hundreds of boys in the borough are falling behind in their language and communication skills by the time they start school, a new study has shown.

More than 500 boys were not meeting the expected standard by the age of five according to a report by Save the Children which has highlighted that boys are almost twice as likely as girls to fall behind.

The study warns that unless action is taken to ensure all youngsters have access to good quality early education, then almost a million more young boys could be left behind in the next 10 years.

In Wigan, 71 per cent of boys met the expected standard by the age of five, compared to 83 per cent of girls, leaving 29 per cent of boys often struggling to follow a simple instruction of speak a full sentence.

Both the percentage of boys not meeting the standard and the gender gap of 12 percentage points are above the national average, but overall Wigan is ranked 80th out of 150 local authorities, with one being the most deprived.

But the most shocking figure is the number of boys receiving free school meals who have fallen behind at school. Nearly half, 48 per cent, of boys from the poorest families failed to meet the standard, 10 percentage points higher than the national average of 38 per cent.

Wigan Council has said it will soon roll out its joined up approach to helping boys and girls get the best possible start to life under its new Start Well proposals.

The centres, which will bring together services for families, will be located in areas where a high proportion of children do not meet the expected level of development.

Coun Jo Platt, portfolio holder for children and young people, said: “We want every child across the borough to have the best start in life and have every opportunity to go on and live a prosperous life.

“We recognise that by working closely with our partners in one community setting we can deliver better services tailored to achieving our goal of all children being prepared for school.”