The Children's Commissioner has told a parliamentary committee that efforts to improve education must start even before children are born.
The Education and Science Select Committee is hearing submissions on its inquiry into engaging parents in the education of their children.
Deputy Children's Commissioner Justine Cornwall told the committee on Wednesday that parents' expectations are critical to children's education, so initiatives aimed at helping parents need to start at or even before birth.
"If you wait 'til that child is two or three, particularly for disadvantaged families and families that perhaps don't have this awareness or understanding, you've already lost ground and the outcome for that child may not be as optimal as it could be.
"So we're talking about babies and before."
The Playcentre Federation said it trained thousands of parents to support their children but it warned the future of Playcentre was bleak because of the way its centres were funded.