Children living in poverty fall two years behind their better off peers in school by the time they reach the age of 14, campaigners claimed today.
At a briefing today the Campaign to End Child Poverty urged the government to invest more in education to bridge the gap between students and stop the cycle of poverty.
It stated that children in poverty fall nine months behind their wealthier peers by the age of three, leading to a life of “unequal chances and diminishing returns”.
The Child Poverty Action Group, a member of the campaign, also published a report today – Chicken and Egg: Child Poverty and Educational Inequalities – on this issue.
Hilary Fisher, director of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, said: “Poverty is a major barrier to gaining a successful education… many leave school without qualifications directly impacting on their ability to succeed as adults.”
It wants the government to invest more in high quality early years provision for low-income families and increase the level of student support by introducing personalised learning agendas for all children.
The campaign is also urging the government to increase its funding levels in state schools to close the gap between state and private school education.
It claims that more money and provisions must be invested in schools in deprived areas if the government wants to meet its target to eliminate child poverty by 2020.
The government failed to meet its interim target of reducing child poverty by a quarter in 2004-5. Campaigners estimate that the government must now invest £4bn if it plans to reach its target to halve child poverty by 2010.
According to campaigners, 3.8 million children live in poverty in the UK. Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo’s and chair of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, said: “Although the government has made significant investment in Sure Start children’s centres and Neighbourhood Nurseries Initiative there is still more to be done in order to make their 2020 target a reality.”