Shropshire Star

Star comment: It's potty not to have school children prepared

Something has shifted in the way very young children are brought up and prepared for their first adventure outside the home.


It was once very rare for a child to enter school with problems over toilet training or difficulty in feeding themselves or, indeed, getting themselves dressed.

Now it is the norm for Reception classes to have a significant number of children either susceptible to accidents or simply still in nappies.

Parents can face unfair peer pressure to potty train their child early. But it is perfectly reasonable to ask them to have them out of nappies by the age of four, unless they have a physical or developmental difficulty.

Speak to any teacher or teaching assistant in a class of four-year-olds and they will tell you that much of their time can be spent changing nappies, helping to feed children or doing up zips and buttons on clothes.

They will also say that many parents cannot see any reason to push for their child to be toilet trained when there are school staff there to deal with the situation.

This is a societal issue. Laissez-faire parents who do not bother to get their child ready for starting school are not doing their son or daughter any favours.

Experts will tell you that the influence of parents at an early age is crucial to a child’s development in later life.

That means setting an example very early on of the importance of learning, whether that be the early recognition of letters and numbers or the discipline of using a toilet.

Not to do so is selfish of parents, unfair to their children and putting an unfair burden on teachers and support staff.


There is a whiff of decay around Rishi Sunak’s government.

Able and sincere he may be, but the people around him seem intent on self-destruction.

It is a downward spiral of ill-discipline that is often seen at the back end of a government’s reign. It happened with Thatcher, then Major, then Blair-Brown. Now, after more of a decade of Tory rule, a malaise has set in and Mr Sunak cannot control it.

The fallout from Boris Johnson’s actions in Number 10 continue, with revelations this week involving the chairman of the BBC. There is an inquiry pending on Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs and now Dominic Raab is being exposed as a bully to his staff. Not to mention, of course, the damage done by Liz Truss’s spending frenzy.

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer faces an open goal, two yards out. Whether he can take his chance remains to be seen.

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