All parents should be issued with a 10-point checklist of skills that their children should master by the age of five, says Ofsted chief.

Sir Michael Wilshaw warned that too many children, particularly from poorer backgrounds, were not ready to start primary school.

“The poorest children are less likely to be able to follow instructions, make themselves understood, manage their own basic hygiene or play cooperatively,” he said at the launch of Ofsted’s annual report into early-years education.

“Children from low-income families are far more likely than their better off peers to lag behind at age three, and they are more likely to stay behind as they grow up.”

Nancy Stewart, an independent early years consultant, however, disagreed with Sir Michael’s recommendation.

“There is a lot of evidence about what counts in children’s later success and it is not putting on your shoes and going to the toilet, and even being able to recognise your name.

“It is things like being confident, being curious and motivated.”

10 Vital Skills – The Checklist

• To sit still and listen
• To be aware of other children
• To understand the word no and the borders it sets for behaviour
• To understand the word stop and that such a phrase might be used to prevent danger
• To be potty trained and go to the loo
• To recognise their own name
• To speak to an adult and ask for needs
• To be able to take off their coat and put on shoes
• To talk in sentences
• To open and enjoy a book

What do you think of Sir Michael’s proposal? Should more be done to ensure children are developmentally equal before they start school? Or do you think this is more pointless box-ticking? Please share your views by commenting below.

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