DISADVANTAGED toddlers are not achieving the same amount of progress as other children by the time they start school.

Assessments carried out by nurseries show that 22 per cent fewer disadvantaged children achieve good learning development.

Disadvantaged children are young people whose parents are on income support including job seekers and employment and support allowance.

Children in care are also classed as disadvantaged children.

Assessments look at a child's ability in seven areas including communication, physcial devleopemnt, personal and social and understanding the world. Subjects such as literacy, maths and expressive arts are also checked to understand how the child has progressed at the age of five.

While 72 per cent of non disadvantaged children pass assessments, just 50 per cent of disadvantaged toddlers make the same progress.

Improvement rates mean the county is still six per cent below the national level.

Natalia Reyner, lead professional for early learning and development said: “We are focussing on narrowing the gap, which has improved over the last three years.

"We want excellent care for our most disadvantaged learners and 97 per cent of disadvantaged children are in a good or outstanding service.”

Chair of the Children’s Select committee, Jon Hubbard said: “We are keen to see the narrowing of the gap and understand that a gap at such an early age will effect their whole lives.

"It is so important and I am keen to know how you will address this and hope the 22 per cent continues to come down.”

The team said work was being done within nurseries, that are currently rated as good by Ofsted, to make them outstanding.

Nurseries with lower standards receive help from the council through a Team Around the Setting (TAS) programme to improve standards through a holistic approach. Extra training for Early Years Foundation Setting Leadership training for schools will also be provided.