Reception children with poor language skills still struggling by Year 2

The TES is reporting that children who start Reception with poor English language skills are more likely than their peers to have academic, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in later years, a new study has found.

This is equally true whether the children speak English as a first language or as an additional language, according to academics from University College London and Royal Holloway, University of London.

Courtenay Norbury, psychology researcher at Royal Holloway and senior author of the paper, said that she had anticipated that those children who spoke English as an additional language would be doing well by Year 2.

“But, actually, their poor outcomes persisted,” she said. “They didn’t grow out of it with more time in the English school system.”

Bilingualism is widely considered to be an advantage for children academically, the academics said. However, their study found that the cognitive advantages of bilingualism helped with academic achievement only if children’s English was good enough at the start of school to ensure that they were fully engaged with their lessons.

The researchers concluded that the best solution would be to measure pupils’ skills in their first language, in order to gauge whether their problems stem from lack of exposure to English, or from an underlying difficulty with language. But, with the diversity of languages spoken by English schoolchildren, they said, this is impractical.

“But we found that measuring their skills in English, while not perfect, is a helpful predictor of future success.” said Katie Whiteside, of the psychology department at Royal Holloway, and the study’s lead author.

More at: Reception children with poor language skills still struggling by Year 2

Have you found this to be true in your school as well? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

Are you a trainee teacher, NQT, teacher, headteacher, parent or  just someone who cares about education and has something to get off  your chest in a Schools Improvement Guest Post? Follow this link for more details at the bottom of the page.

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin (around 7am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link.

We now have a Facebook page - please click to like!


School tests 'kill joy of reading'
Students warned of new 'phishing' scam
Categories: Uncategorized.


  1. BehaviourA

    In my experience they just get additional phonics type input thrown at them and this doesn’t help at all in many cases if sound system disordered. Just makes them more frustrated and puts them off reading.
    Better understanding of the process of literacy acquisition and how talking and reading are linked vital in ITE.

  2. Sure Start centres can provide an opportunity for parents to learn the importance of talking frequently with their children from birth which should ensure that by reception they are reasonably proficient in language skills.

    So, what does government do?  Close down these centres!

  3. thiskidsthinkin

    English isn’t the easiest of languages at the best of times. We have silent E’s that chance the vowel sound, double vowels that sound like the name of the first vowel, silent k’s, double letters that sound like another letter altogether, list goes on!

Let us know what you think...