Over 300000 toddlers have never been read a nursery rhyme by their

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Over 300,000 toddlers have never been read a nursery rhyme by their parents, a Government survey suggests.Eight per cent of children aged under five in England have never learnt songs, poems or nursery rhymes, according to a Department for Education (DfE) poll of 2,685 mothers and fathers.  Meanwhile, 12 per cent of youngsters in the same age group have never learnt numbers or how to count and 14 per cent – 574,928 children – have never learnt the alphabet or how to recognise words.Ministers will launch a public information campaign later this year urging parents to “Chat, Play, Read” with their children before they start school.The Education Secretary has said that children being sent to school unable to speak in sentences is a “persistent scandal” and that parents failing to teach their children how to talk is the “last taboo” in education.  More than a quarter of four-and-five-year-olds lack the early communication and literacy skills expected by the end of reception year.The ‘expected level’ includes a child having the words and understanding to talk about events that have happened or are going to happen in the future.A separate study shows that children with poor vocabulary at age five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed at age 34 as children with good vocabulary.The head of Ofsted has previously warned that more and more children are starting school without being able to communicate properly or even use the toilet. Amanda Spielman described how some “lucky” children are given bedtime stories or taught the alphabet by their families, while others are not so fortunate.She has previously urged nursery staff to spend time teaching pre-school children new language skills – whether through songs, nursery rhymes or “time-honoured classics” such as Hans Christian Andersen or Dr Seuss.Earlier this year, the DfE announced that Clarks employees will be trained to speak to children as part of a drive to improve early language skills. Staff at the shoe shop will be taught to strike up conversation with toddlers while they try on shoes, so they can practise talking and responding to questions.Training will take place over the summer so that Clarks staff are able to talk to children who are bought to the shop by their parents to buy school shoes ahead of the new academic year. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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