UK disappoints on social mobility

A report by the Sutton Trust, which compared social mobility in several countries, found that the UK performs poorly.

The key findings of the report were that:

  • Gaps in school readiness in England between disadvantaged children and their counterparts were wider than in similar countries, such as Canada and Australia, but narrower than the United States.
  • Formal preschool education can have lasting effects in reducing the educational gap between high and low income children.
  • Disparities in early child outcomes persist into adolescence.
  • Unlike other countries, the achievement gap in England actually widens in secondary school.
  • None of the countries in the study reduce the disparity as children age.

The report concludes that addressing the social stratification in secondary schools remains one of the key challenges for improving social mobility in the UK.

Source: Latest research report: what prospects for mobility in the UK? A cross-national study of educational inequalities and their implications for future education and earnings mobility (2011), Sutton Trust

CPD to improve vocabulary teaching

The latest issue of Better: Evidence-based Education includes an article on using Teacher Study Groups to improve vocabulary teaching. This new approach to professional development for teaching vocabulary, uses year level team meetings as a forum for new learning and enhancing existing curricula to conform to evidence-based principles. This approach can lead to enhanced outcomes in vocabulary, and significant change in teaching practice.

Source: Improving vocabulary teaching through teacher study groups (2011), Better: Evidence-based Education, 4(1).

Developing a business case for early interventions

The National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) has published a guide to developing a business case for early interventions (the practices and programmes that help to give children aged 0–3 the social and emotional foundations they need). Commissioned by the Local Government Association, the guidance includes:

  • How to make a business case for early interventions
  • How to make an economic case for early interventions
  • The key considerations in evaluating the value for money of early interventions.

Source:Developing a business case for early interventions and evaluating their value for money (2011), National Foundation for Educational Research

Excellent results with Incredible Years

The online magazine Prevention Action has published a report on Incredible Years. This evidence-based parent training programme has previously been proven to achieve considerable success in improving outcomes for children aged three to eight years old with challenging behaviours.

New research has shown it also produces positive results with older children and their families. Studies of Incredible Years in Ireland, and also of the programme’s therapeutic dinosaur, for small groups of children at high risk of developing conduct disorder, are also underway.

Source: Incredible results for the Incredible Years (2011), Prevention Action

Help for struggling readers

The latest issue of Better: Evidence-based Education, has just been published by the Institute for Effective Education, and provides advice on what to do to help struggling readers.

We know a lot about how to solve reading failure, and this issue presents articles on proven solutions in primary and secondary schools. The solutions vary in many ways, but together they show that virtually all children can succeed in reading.

Source: Better Evidence-based Education 

September children spring forward, August children fall back

A new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that, relative to children born in September, children born in August, on average:

  • score substantially lower in national achievement tests and other measures of cognitive skills;
  • are more likely to study for vocational qualifications if they stay on in post-compulsory education;
  • are less likely to attend a Russell Group (high-status) university at age 19;
  • have lower confidence in their academic ability and are less likely to believe that they control their own destiny as teenagers.

While a future study plans to identify the causes of these findings, schools may be keen to consider practical ways to address these issues. For example, they may consider reviewing the extent to which curriculum provision is developmentally appropriate for the youngest children in the first terms of schooling; how summer borns are supported in meaningfully interacting with their older peers, as equals, in classroom and playtime activities, and the role that social-emotional learning might play in enhancing achievement.

Source: Does when you are born matter? The impact of month of birth on children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills in England (2011), Institute for Fiscal Studies,