London: Childrenas old as five are going to school in nappies because they have not been toilet trained, a study has revealed.
Parents are failing to pass on basic skills to their children, such as recognising when they have a full bladder.
As a result teachers are increasingly helping youngsters who have had ‘accidents’, instead of teaching classes.
A teachers’ union yesterday blamed the problem on mothers and fathers who ‘lack parenting skills’.
Details emerged from a survey of 18 primary schools, which found 24 children did not know how to use the toilet and still wore nappies.
One school reported having to replace the carpet in two classrooms because children had not got to the toilet in time.
Kent Community Health NHS Trust, which carried out the study, is now asking school nurses and health visitors to try to help children before they start school.
The initiative has been launched in nurseries in Dover and Deal but is likely to be extended across the county.
And the findings on which it is based are also likely to be replicated across the UK. School nurse Chris Beer said: ‘Last year we had lots of contact from schools saying they were seeing a rising number of children starting school who were still wearing nappies and children who were not staying clean and dry during the day.
“Teachers were concerned they were spending less time teaching and more time helping children who were having accidents. Because some children don’t drink enough, they don’t learn to control their bladders and recognise the feeling of needing to go to the toilet.
“What we hope is that by working with children who are struggling in nursery we can support them so by the time they get to school they will be clean and dry and can concentrate on learning.”
Siobhan Freegard, founder of parenting site Netmums, said: “These new figures are worrying as they potentially show a generation of children being shunted between nurseries and parents, neither of whom seem to have enough time to properly toilet train children in their care.
The survey’s findings are the latest example of a decline in personal and social skills among young children.
Teachers have complained of having to instruct children how to use knives and forks or sit at a table. Many report pupils finding it difficult to wait their turn or say please and thank you.
Education experts have accused parents of relying on schools to instil basic skills and manners in their children, either because they cannot be bothered to do so themselves or because they are too busy.
Child development author Sue Palmer confirmed it was parents, rather than schools, that were to blame.
“It is symptomatic of the fact that expectations we have of children can no longer be taken for granted,’’ she said.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers added: “It ought to be the parents’ responsibility but there are some who lack parenting skills. Because the children are in school it’s then left to teachers to deal with the situation.”