The “word gap” and why it matters

The UK government has recently announced that it is launching a new initiative to address the “scandal” of children starting school in Britain without vital literacy skills. Education Secretary Damian Hinds promised to halve within a decade the number of British children lacking the required level of early speaking or reading skills – termed the “word gap” by education experts.


Currently, 28% of four and five-year-olds do not meet communication and literacy levels expected by the end of the reception year. For these children, they rarely catch up to the rest of their peers when they start school and “the gap just widens” which further creates “a huge impact on social mobility”. In fact, research has revealed that children with a poor vocabulary at the age of five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed by the age of 34 as children with good vocabulary. Without good vocabulary and a good grasp of language, a child is “seriously limited in their enjoyment of school and success beyond”.


Jane Harley, strategy director for UK Education, said that ultimately, “language is at the heart of education” and “low levels of vocabulary set limits on literacy, understanding, learning the curriculum, and can create a downward spiral of poor language which begins to affect all aspects of life”. She also called for more to be done to address the issue as well as give teachers support to make a difference in these children’s lives.

A good grasp of language is the foundation to effective communication. It is always good to expose children to as many opportunities to expand and build on their vocabulary from a young age. This will undoubtedly help him or her to cope well in school, or in any other situations that requires them to communicate with others.

If you want to find out more measures outlined in the White Paper, click the following link:


Leave a Comment