Editor's view - More equal than others

Monday, September 7, 2015

England may be a small nation, but it has large amounts of inequality, as new research from the National Children's Bureau released today (7 September) shows.

Its report reveals the dramatic variation in the health and development of under-fives depending on where they grow up. Not suprisingly, overall the position is worse for children living in the most deprived areas of the country - in terms of obesity, tooth decay, hospital admissions due to injury and level of development by the end of Reception.

Some areas manage to buck the trend and achieve better than expected results, which could be cause for optimism. The responsibility for public health services for the under-fives is also transferring to local authorities from central Government next month, which could ease change.

However, it is hard not to be pessimistic about the prospects for a more equal society when government policy and local authority funding levels all seem to be moving things in the opposite direction.

A visit to the dentist may not be top of the agenda if your family is being moved to a cheaper area of the country.

We surely need a concerted and co-ordinated approach to physical health and development for a start. Yet Dr Lala Manners argues that this is actually losing ground in our early years services, and takes a look around the world at how other countries are addressing this area (pages 26-28).

Will the Integrated Review for two-year-olds, now rolling out, be a positive move? Well, it's not statutory and won't currently reach children not in formal childcare, so the jury is out. Read our guide to the review to find out more (pages 21-24).

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