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Primary Education News
News Early schooling "damages" children and how reading boosts maths skills
This week's research round up includes: what Welsh schools spend their disadvantaged pupil grant on and how public speaking can improve test results
Avid readers do better at maths
Children who read for pleasure are likely to make more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling compared to those who rarely read, a study suggests.
Reading for enjoyment was found to be more important for children's cognitive development between the ages 10 and 16 than their parents' level of education. The research, by the Institute of Education examined the reading habits of 6,000 children.
Children who read often at the age of 10 and had been reading books and newspapers more than once a week aged 16 performed better in tests than those who had read less. There was a 14.4% advantage in vocabulary, a 9.9% advantage in maths and an 8.6% advantage in spelling, once parents' background and reading habits were taken into account.
Read more on the Institute of Education's findings in the paper Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading
Call for schooling to begin later
Children should not begin formal school lessons until the age of six or seven, a group of education experts has said.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, academics and teachers said early schooling was causing "profound damage" to children and that there should be more emphasis in the curriculum on learning through play.
It was signed by 127 educationalists, including Lord Layard, director of the Well-Being Programme at the London School of Economics, senior lecturer in psychology of education at Cambridge University Dr David Whitebread and director of Play England Catherine Prisk.
Children who entered school at six or seven "consistently achieve better educational results as well as higher levels of wellbeing" the signatories said.
The letter was sent by the campaign group Save Childhood Movement.
Read the full letter on The Telegraph website.
Public speaking boosts pupil achievement
Primary school children that are given more opportunities to develop verbal skills, through public speaking and debate, do better than other children in assessments, research suggests.
The study, co-sponsored by the University of Bedfordshire and the English-Speaking Union, followed more than a thousand children across 12 Bedfordshire primary schools for three years.
Those taught how to use persuasive speech and who were placed in situations requiring them to debate publicly gained self-confidence and scored considerably higher in nationally standardised tests – equivalent to extra gains of several months.
Improvements were particularly high for lower ability pupils, children whom English was a second or additional language, and boys.
Read more on the findings on The English-Speaking Union website.
Uncertainty about disadvantaged pupil grant
Two thirds of Welsh schools are unaware how long a grant for poorer pupils will continue, according to research.
More than 500 schools responded to the survey by the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Under a quarter (23%) of schools said they used the grant on free school meals and 39% used the money for staffing.
Some 33% of schools said they were not aware of the pupil deprivation grant guidelines and requirements.
The Liberal Democrats will present its findings to the Welsh Government to help improve the policy, which is equivalent to the pupil premium in England.
Read more on the survey's findings on the Welsh Liberal Democrats website.