09/05/2012 07:00 BST | Updated 05/11/2012 10:55 GMT

Poor Parenting Blamed For Children Not Being Ready To Start School

An increasing number of children are unable to cope with the academic demands of starting school because of poor parenting, according to the schools commissioner.

Parents need a "five-a-day" guide informing them how to raise their children, including being told to ensure their family has breakfast and getting their young up in the morning.

Dr Elizabeth Sidwell blamed the rise in children unready to start school on their mothers and fathers, who fail to read to them or engage in "proper conversation". In an address to the Forum of Independent Day Schools (FIDS) on Tuesday, she singled out the unemployed as the worst offenders.

"When parents are unemployed, there is a high correlation with their children not doing very well… largely because their children don’t come to school," she said. "If your parents are lying in bed and don’t have to get up for work, it is really difficult to get the child up for school on time."

"How can we get those children to come to school, ready for school, at five? Even the outstanding primaries tell me children, at five, are coming in with lower and lower ability. It is not a good situation.

Figures revealed five-year-olds from disadvantaged homes are likely to be at least a year behind in their vocabulary when starting school compared to their more affluent peers.

Around 700 primary schools failed to reach minimum targets, which stipulate 60% of pupils should reach the required standards in maths and English by the age of 11.

Sidwell added that independent schools should assist under-performing primaries through sponsorship of state-funded academies.

Stephen Smith, secretary of FIDS, told The Huffington Post UK: "As local independent day schools it is in our genetic make-up to be part of our communities and agents of social mobility.

"We are therefore talking a great deal with the government and other interested parties to explore ways in which we can help. It is in all our interests that that primary education establishes the best possible skills in our children, and if we can help we wish to be able to do so.

"Dr Sidwell's involvement with us therefore was very encouraging and paves the way for more co-operation and exchange of ideas."

But her comments will no doubt irk teaching unions whose members have publicly voiced their willingness to strike if more state primaries are converted into academies.

Pictures Of The Day: 9 May 2012