Welsh children are starting school with fewer language skills
than five years ago, according to head teachers.
A survey by the Basic Skills Agency questioned more than 700
head teachers about their perceptions of children’s skills
when they entered school.
Nearly two-thirds said fewer children could speak audibly and be
understood, 61 per cent said fewer children could recite rhymes or
songs and more than half thought fewer children were able to listen
to and respond to instructions.
Children in Welsh medium schools (where teaching is in the Welsh
language) had more ability in activities related to early reading,
writing and counting. They were more than twice as likely to be
able to write their own name when they started school as children
in English medium schools, but children in English medium schools
did better at speaking audibly, and talking with others
Basic Skills Agency director Alan Wells said that more
opportunities were needed for parents to learn how to help their
children develop these crucial early language skills.
In some families, he said, the problem was parents’ lack
of the skills to develop the language of children. In others
“parents with what they see as lots of money but little time
‘buy’ themselves out of having to give time to their
children by giving them expensive presents that don’t need a
Wells has characterised the communication habits of some
families as “the daily grunt”.