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Avoid policies that increase deprivation, says expert on health inequality

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 23 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5825
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Around half of children entering primary school in England have not reached the recommended level of physical, mental, and social development for age 5, figures published by the University College London’s Institute of Health Equity have shown.1

In 2012-13 just 51.7% of children had achieved a good level of development at the end of the school reception year, indicating that they were ready for school, and the level of achievement dropped with deprivation, with only 36.2% of those who qualified to receive free school meals judged to have reached this level. In 2010-11 the proportion with a good level of development was 59%.

Child development was assessed on the Department of Education’s early years foundation stage profile,2 which includes measures of cognitive, physical, and behavioural development, together with language, communication, and social skills.

Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity, told a press conference on 22 September, “The less ready they are for school, the …

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