Toddlers need qualified teachers to prevent them from being ‘set back decades,’ a leading children’s charity has argued.

Save The Children said that failure to properly stimulate children’s brains during the nursery years could take decades to correct.

Underestimating potential

The charity announced that in 2015 around 130,000 children in England had fallen behind in their language development before they reached school age. They said that parents often appeared to unaware of the importance of pre-school development.

A survey conducted by the charity found that many parents were underestimating their child’s potential to learn. Nearly half of the parents questioned (47%) were hoping that their child would know 100 words by their third birthday – just half the amount recommended educators.

Save The Children have suggested that all nurseries should employ a qualified teacher to help toddlers develop key skills in language and learning.

Why toddlers need qualified teachers

“Toddler’s brains are like sponges, absorbing knowledge and making new connections faster than any other time in life,” said Gareth Jenkins, the charity’s director of UK poverty.

“We’ve got to challenge the misconception that learning can wait for school, as, if a child starts their first day at school behind, they tend to stay behind.

“To tackle the nation’s education gap, we need a new national focus on early learning to give children the best start – not just increasing free childcare hours, but boosting nursery quality to help support children and parents with early learning.”

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Sam Gyimah, the education and childcare minister, insisted that the Government was making a “significant investment” in early years education.

He said: “We know that 80% of children are achieving the expected communication and language skills by age five – an increase of 8 percentage points since 2013. But we are determined to go further.

“We are continuing to look at what more can be done to encourage talented staff to forge a career in the early years and this will be a key strand of our Workforce Strategy which will be published in 2016.”