Black Country children 'getting off to a poorer start in life' compared to rest of UK
The performance of young children in the Black Country is among the worst in the country, according to a new report.
The four Black Country boroughs are all languishing in the bottom 14 in the country in a new table ranking the performance of children aged five and under.
The national figures suggest youngsters in the Black Country are getting off to a poorer start than elsewhere in the country and could face a more challenging time when starting school.
Sandwell's children are struggling most of all, according to the study, and is among the worst areas in the country for early years children displaying a good level of development.
The borough is near the bottom of the class - ranked 145th out of 151. The rest of the Black Country doesn't fare much better, with Dudley 141st, Wolverhampton 140th and Walsall 138th.
In stark contrast to its neighbours, Staffordshire is ranked 23rd in the country.
Councillor Val Gibson, cabinet member for children and young people at Wolverhampton council, insisted the years before children go to school are crucial for shaping their future.
She said: "We've been aware we could be doing better in early years in Wolverhampton and we have recently launched an early years strategy defining the role the the local authority believes it should have and the role parents should have.
"The idea is it's not just the local authority is able to work with providers but also to support parents to help them at home.
"We launched a consultation which showed parents are ok with the challenge as long as they get support."
Councillor Gibson added: "Research shows these children who get support aged zero to two and zero to five do better throughout school. They are more willing to learn and that stands them in good stead for their school, college and university lives."
It isn't only the youngest children who are struggling in parts of the region. Sandwell was also ranked 145th for Key Stage 4 attainment.
Other parts of the Black Country weren't performing as badly on that list but were still at the lower end, with Walsall 131st, Dudley 121st and Wolverhampton 101st.