A Conservative county councillor has claimed children up to the age of seven have attended school wearing nappies because they do not know how to use the toilet.

Cllr Eve Chicken claimed schools had reported some youngsters up to Year Two – where children are aged between six and seven – had not been shown how to properly use the toilet.  

Cllr Chicken also warned that other children were starting school unable to even speak properly.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting (January 9) of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee, the Seghill with Seaton Delaval councillor called for parents to be made aware of their responsibilities.

She warned that children needing to learn these basic skills would spend the rest of their school careers needing to catch up with their peers.

Cllr Chicken said: “One thing I hear very little of is parental responsibility. We have got children going to school who are still in nappies because parents haven’t taught them how to use a toilet.

“Parents don’t think that is a necessity, they think it is something that the nursery staff or the school staff should do – there are even children in Year One and Year Two still having to use nappies. We have got children who can’t speak properly and are not having their incorrect speech corrected, and speech impediments not dealt with.

“We need to get much stronger links with our primary schools, our social services and our family hubs. Family hubs provide such a wide, broad-spectrum plan for the entire family.

“If the child is delayed by the point of three or four in nursery or school, they have got such a lot of catching up to do.

“We need to be stressing on the parents what their responsibilities are, making sure they do their part by the time the child actually gets to school so that those children have got the best start in life. I think the best way we do that is with the links to social services.”

Cllr Chicken’s comments comments came on a discussion on the council’s priority aim of giving young people the best start in life, in a bid to reduce inequality across Northumberland.

Responding to her remarks, Audrey Kingham, the council’s director of children’s services, said: “We have adapted all our services to be integrated and working together to absolutely support families.”