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Last October I wrote about deteriorating children's eyesight and the fact that many youngsters starting their reception year have an undiagnosed vision problem.

I urged parents to take up the offer of free eye tests, available to children as young as two-and-a-half, if they or Early Years practitioners spot a potential problem.

Now the Education Endowment Foundation's (EEF) Preparing for Literacy guidance report is urging Early Years professionals to ensure all their children with possible eyesight problems are identified and youngsters with glasses or other treatments use them.

According to the report, around 13 per cent of children in the UK could have undiagnosed eye conditions, such as short-sightedness or astigmatism, that impede the development of their literacy skills.

Other common childhood conditions include squints and amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, all of which can limit children's ability to distinguish letters or follow the actions of teachers.

It goes without saying that it's more difficult to learn to read if you can’t see well enough to discriminate between how letters look or see what the teacher is pointing to.

The report goes on to say that not being able to see well is 'an unnecessary barrier to making sure that all young children can access high-quality learning experiences at nursery and in reception'.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the EEF, says: "Making sure all young children with possible eyesight problems are identified, and those that are given glasses or other treatments use them, is a cheap way of removing this unnecessary barrier to learning. It should be a no-brainer.

"Our guidance report also includes a number of other recommendations to Early Years teachers to give young children the best possible chance of developing good language and literacy skills."

In case you missed them in last year's blog, here are the telltale signs a child may have a problem with their eyesight:

  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Rubbing or blinking their eyes frequently
  • Holding objects close to their face
  • One eye turning in or out
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Complaining of headaches


The EEF Preparing for Literacy guidance report reviews the best available research to offer Early Years professionals practical do’s and don’ts to make sure all children start school with the foundations they need to read, write and communicate well.

There are seven recommendations, each designed to support nurseries and Early Years settings to provide every child - but particularly those from disadvantaged homes - with a high-quality and well-rounded grounding in early literacy.

They are:

  1. Prioritise the development of communication and language
  2. Develop children's early reading using a balanced approach
  3. Develop children's capability and motivation to write
  4. Embed opportunities to develop children's self-regulation
  5. Support parents to understand how to help their children learn
  6. Use assessment to ensure all children make good progress
  7. Use high quality targeted support to help struggling children