The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults: the report of the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances

Document type
Field, Frank
Cabinet Office
Date of publication
3 December 2010
Children and Young People, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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The report, by the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances, sets out a new approach to meeting the Government’s target of abolishing child poverty. The evidence about the importance of the pre-school years to children’s life chances as adults points strongly to an alternative approach that focuses on directing government policy and spending to developing children’s capabilities in the early years. A shift of focus is needed towards providing high quality, integrated services aimed at supporting parents and improving the abilities of our poorest children during the period when it is most effective to do so. Their prospects of going on to gain better qualifications and sustainable employment will be greatly enhanced. The aim is to change the distribution of income by changing the position which children from poor backgrounds will be able to gain on merit in the income hierarchy. There are two overarching recommendations.

  • To prevent poor children from becoming poor adults the Review proposes establishing a set of Life Chances Indicators that measure how successful we are as a country in making more equal life’s outcomes for all children
  • To drive this policy the Review proposes establishing the ‘Foundation Years’ covering the period from the womb to five. The Foundation Years should become the first pillar of a new tripartite education system: the Foundation Years leading to school years leading to further, higher and continuing education

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