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Primary Education News
News The testing culture, outdoor learning and more: education research in brief
Introducing our weekly round-up of the latest research papers, methods and ideas related to teaching and learning
Early years and outdoor learning
Pupils' opportunities to spend time outdoors declines sharply as they move from early years education into a more formal setting, new research has exposed.
Outdoor learning and play has long been regarded as being a useful tool to help the transition from early years education into the primary setting and something that has been encouraged and endorsed by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) of the national curriculum.
Researchers at Plymouth University followed a groups of 32 pupils in four foundation stage classes who had been armed with digital audio recorders and listened to their conversations and play. Some 15 of the children were then followed into year 1 and in doing this the researchers observed that while two thirds of recordings had happened outdoors during EYFS, in year 1 that proportion dropped to less than one third.
Sue Waite, who led the research team from Plymouth University, the University of St Mark and St John and the Institute of Education, explained that outdoor learning was vital to support children to learn independently. She said: "Outdoor learning had a different quality from the teacher-led lessons which took place in the classroom. Outdoor spaces offer opportunities for children to be more creative, inquiring and socially skilled, as they can pursue their own lines of interest and talk together. In classrooms, dominated by specific learning outcomes and teachers talking, it's very easy for learning to become something which is spoon-fed."
Domestic violence education in secondary schools
A study looking at domestic violence has called for preventative education to be given in secondary schools.
Research funded by the Economics and Social Research council looked at 13 to 14 year-olds in 13 Staffordshire schools and found, in the first phase of the project, that some 34% of pupils had witnessed abuse involving a parent or carer. In particular the report was concerned that more boys than girls thought it was acceptable for a man/woman to hit his/her partner.
Dr Claire Fox, from Keele University, who led part of the research, said: "We found that domestic abuse prevention education can be effective in changing girls' and boys' attitudes towards domestic abuse and encouraging more of them to seek help."
Dr Fox presented her findings to the British Psychological Society annual conference in Harrogate.
Test-driven culture a barrier to learning?
A recent report into level 6 tests at primary school in maths and reading have added weight to the argument that test-driven education can be a barrier to learning.
The report, by the Centre for Education and Inclusion Research and Sheffield Hallam University, was commissioned by the government to look at the higher level tests taken by the most able students and administered by schools on a voluntary basis.
In its conclusion the report states that there is a link between those schools taking a strong outcome focussed approach being less likely to produce successful results compared to those that had a combined learning and outcome approach.
General secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) Russell Hobby said: "The report suggests they do not provide a credible badge of extra achievement for secondary schools to act on, nor do they build on an established curriculum in primary schools; we are left wondering what role they do serve."
The report calls for greater support and resources for primary schools
to help them focus on teaching and learning rather than test
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