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Page last updated at 07:50 GMT, Thursday, 28 July 2011 08:50 UK

Children 'who don't know their own name'


Some children entering the education system in the UK do not even know their own name, according to one head teacher.

Neil Wilson, executive head teacher of a group of schools in south Manchester, told Sanchia Berg that the problem is "more widespread than we give it credit for".

"A significant majority know their names when they enter the nursery, but some do not," he said.

He insisted that it was important to start prioritising and allocating more resources to speech and language in primary schools.

"This is the Holy Grail of breaking barriers of underachievement and disaffection," he said.

He added that while families used to spend a lot of time talking, the advent of the internet and TV had worsened communication skills because there is a "lack of opportunity" to talk.

Jean Gross, the government's communication champion for children, agreed that anecdotally "we do have a problem" and teachers were increasingly concerned that it was "getting worse".

She told Sarah Montague that hidden speech difficulties were sometimes to blame, but other times children were not getting "wide, rich dialogue" from their families, partly because parents "don't know how" to talk to their young ones.

Talking about the problem of media, she insisted that "TV isn't going to go away, it's always there and it can be used really productively.

"The key thing about this issue is that it can be tackled... if picked up early".

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