The latest figures show that just 44 per cent of children on free school meals achieve a good level of development in the EYFS Profile assessments, compared with 62 per cent of other children.
However, since 2007 the gap between children on free school meals and other pupils has narrowed.
In 2010 just 40 per cent of children on free school meals attained a good level of development, and in 2007 this was just under 30 per cent.
The Department for Education statistics give a more detailed breakdown of the EYFS profile results published in October, which showed that the number of children achieving a good level of development at the end of the EYFS, had risen from 46 per cent in 2007, and 56 per cent last year to 59 per cent this year.
The latest figures show children’s achievement in the EYFS Profile by gender, ethnicity, eligibility for free school meals, special educational needs, and English as a first language.
The gender gap persists with girls continuing to do better than boys, with 50 per cent of boys achieving a good level of development in the combined scales of Personal, Social, and Emotional Development (PSED) and Communication, Language and Literacy (CLL), compared with 68 per cent of girls. This is the same gap as in 2010.
The difference in achievement between boys and girls is about the same – 18 percentage points – whether or not they are eligible for free school meals.
Anand Shukla, chief executive of Daycare Trust said the results were ‘a mixture of good and bad news.’
He said, ‘There are some impressive results in some quite deprived London boroughs. ‘But there are still big gaps in children’s achievement at the end of nursery education.
‘Children who don’t speak English as their first language, children on free meals and those from some minority ethnic groups –Travellers, Gypsies and those of Pakistani origin - do less well at the end of nursery education.
‘But perhaps the biggest worry is the gap between boys’ and girls’ achievement. Daycare Trust believes that Department for Education must take action to ensure that boys fulfil their potential.’