Poll: Rising number of children in Ipswich begin school in nappies, shocking claim
- Credit: PA
THE number of children starting school while still wearing nappies is at its highest for a decade, it was claimed today.
Growing numbers of youngsters beginning reception classes having not been toilet trained means more teaching staff are forced to take time out of the classroom and children end up missing valuable lesson time.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said it was a “rising problem” in Ipswich. He claimed youngsters who come to school in nappies often suffered academically and were “more likely to end up in prison”.
He said teachers he has spoken to claim the issue is the worst it has been in the last 10 years.
“It is a rising problem here – I know this because I have been speaking to reception teachers about it.
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“Teachers say the problem has got significantly worse in the last 10 years and gets worse with every new intake.”
He said the increase in cases is due to a number of factors, ranging from the poor parenting skills of vulnerable and disadvantaged mothers and fathers, broken and chaotic families, and teenage pregnancies.
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Mr Gummer believes radical action is urgently needed and is considering setting up a project to help families in need.
He added: “For children who come to school in nappies, it means the reception teachers or teaching assistants (TAs) are taken out of the classroom, the child is missing out on learning and the child is also likely to be behind in speech and language development.
“They are more likely to be behind in literacy development, have problems socialising with other children and be poorly nourished.
“They never catch up and that gap between these children and their peers gets wider.
“They are more likely to end up in prison and that is why it is so important to tackle this now.
“We need intensive help for vulnerable mothers and fathers, and that is before, at and after the birth.”
Ormiston Children & Families Trust, which supports children from disadvantaged backgrounds, is launching workshops this summer to help families prepare for school life.
A spokeswoman for the charity said: “We are aware of this issue.
“Children have not always been toilet trained and are still turning up to school in nappies.
“We are in the process of setting up readiness workshops and linking up with schools and preschools, and that is something we can address with some of the families we help.
“Along with independence skills, it will also teach social skills.”
Graham White, Suffolk’s secretary of National Union of Teachers, said the additional help given to some pupils can have a knock-on effect on others.
“It is a concern,” he said. “There should be a very clear intimate care policy in terms of how TAs deal with those with additional needs.
“What we would not be happy about is if teaching staff were taken away from teaching to deal with this.”