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This paper develops an index of development for British children in the 1970 cohort, assessed at 22 months, 42 months, 5 years and 10 years. The score at 22 months predicts educational qualifications at age 26 and is related to family background. The children of educated or wealthy parents who scored poorly in the early tests had a tendency to catch up, whereas children of worse-off parents who scored poorly were extremely unlikely to catch up and are shown to be an at-risk group. There is no evidence that entry into schooling reverses this pattern.