LESS than a third of disadvantaged youngsters can go to the toilet themselves when they start school, figures have revealed.
Of the children eligible for free school meals at the age of five, just 30 per cent in Hartlepool are ‘school ready’.
The figure for County Durham is even lower at 24 per cent, which is nine per cent less than the national average of 33 per cent.
Government advisor and former Health Secretary Alan Milburn, who is head of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, said the figures, which are part of the State of the Nation report 2014, are ‘lamentable and shocking’.
He said the burden of teaching children the basic skills, such as using the toilet and putting on their coats, is unfairly falling on teachers.
The figures also show that about half of children nationally who are not eligible for free school meals are classed as school ready at age five, including 52 per cent in Hartlepool and 42 per cent in County Durham.
Mr Milburn has also raised the alarm over the attainment gap between poor pupils at GCSE.
Nationally just 38.1 per cent of pupils receiving free schools meals achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths.
In Hartlepool, the figure is 35.3 per cent and in County Durham it is 38 per cent.