IT is believed 12,000 children in Greater Manchester have started school without the skills to learn.

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham wants to use the devolved health and public services powers of the region to cut this number.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Burnham said: "Today is the first day at school for about 35,000 children across Greater Manchester.

"It’s an exciting time as new friendships are forged and new surroundings are discovered.

“For many, the first year at school is much harder than it is for others.

“We want to do something about that. We will not build a more equal society until there is a level playing field at the start, with all kids arriving at school ready to learn and fulfil their potential."

He said the problem is not only low incomes, but parents who find themselves 'time-poor' cannot help with reading or educational days out.

This school ready focus will be included as part of the Greater Manchester Strategy. To be launched later this year.