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Early years development by free school meal status

Key points

  • Overall, children in Inner London are more likely to attain a low development score at 5 years old than children in Outer London or the rest of England.
  • However, children on free school meals in London do better than FSM children in the rest of England.

Early years development by free school meal status

Proportion of 5 year olds with low level of development by free school meal status.png

What does this graph show?

The graph shows the level of development in children aged five and is based on the assessment of various emotional, physical, social and educational factors. For a detailed description of these criteria, refer to the technical notes in the official publication

Overall, children in Inner London are more likely to get a low development score than children in Outer London or the rest of England. 26% of children in Inner London got a low score compared to 22% in Outer London and in rest of the country. In total 22,000 children in London were assessed as having a low development score.

Boys were more likely to get a lower score than girls. A higher proportion of children whose first language is not English attain a low score than children who speak English as a first language. However, children who do not speak English as a first language tend to attain better in London than in the rest of England, with 28% of such pupils attaining a low score in London compared to 32% in the rest of England.

Focusing on children eligible for free school meals, those in Inner London do better than those in rest of the country - 33% of those in Inner London get a low development scheme compared to 38% in rest of England. In Outer London, the figure is lower still (32%). This is a different pattern to one seen for children in general and implies that children in low-income families in London have a better level of development than low-income children elsewhere.

Additional Information

Early years attainment has been an area of interest for the coalition government and the report by Frank Field set out a child poverty strategy centred almost entirely around early years development.

The Department for Education official publication measures attainment in early years using a number of different benchmarks. For example, one of the measures defines a "good" level of attainment that 5 year olds should reach. However, just about half of all children in England reach this level. Our approach throughout this website is to take examples where people from lower income backgrounds lack what could be considered the norm. This "good" level of development cannot be considered the norm if half the children do not attain it. We therefore use a lower threshold for attainment in this graph.

We use two year averages in this graph as the data for individual years has seemingly improved so much since the introduction of the measure.

NOTE: The data on this page may not be the most recent available because this indicator was not updated in our most recent report, published in October 2015. Nevertheless, we have chosen to keep the page live because it tells an important story about poverty in London, and the general pattern described here is unlikely to have changed significantly.

Indicator last updated: 2 December 2015