MINISTERS have earmarked £5million to help mums and dads prepare their children for school by singing nursery rhymes and reading to them.
A further £8.5million will enable local authorities to fund projects aimed at improving the language and literacy skills of disadvantaged youngsters.
Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, which will run the £5million scheme, said: ‘Parents care very much about the future of their children, whatever their background or wherever they come from. But it can sometimes be difficult to get them involved in their child’s learning and we know little about how to do this well.
‘By testing different ways of tackling issues like the early years “word gap”, this new fund will give us much-needed information about how we can give parents the tools they need.’
Announcing the projects today, the Department for Education said they will help close the ‘word gap’ in communication and vocabulary skills between rich and poor children when they start school. A recent Oxford University Press survey suggested nearly half of pupils in UK primary schools and just over two in five in secondaries are at risk of under-performing because of a limited vocabulary.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said: ‘It is important that families can feel confident about supporting their children so they start school with the appropriate language and social skills. This new support will help by giving advice on reading and learning the alphabet which are so important in making sure no child is left behind.’