All about statistics

https://www.facebook.com/BBCQuestionTime/videos/1917523538261362/

It’s a shame that it’s all about statistics but it’s sad that this is the direction the British education system is heading.

The pressure placed on children is ever increasing and the age of the children is decreasing. Children as young as 4 are tested and examined and experience stress. It is shocking that this is the way the British education system is heading especially when mental health cases are on the rise due to pressures placed on these children in terms of deadlines, grades and targets.

The globe

Speech and Language

Yesterday I attended a guest lecture regarding speech and language development. The lecture was interesting and informative and provided me with an insight on practitioners views of a speech and language therapist. It was interesting to see how strongly practitioners felt about having speech and language therapists in preschool settings.

The lecture itself focused on the lecturers research project in which a band 5 speech and language therapist was invited to attend weekly workshops with groups of preschool children at 4 preschools in a county in the UK. She discussed the reason behind the research – the reason being that the speech and language skills in school are not quite as good as they were 2 to 3 years ago. The change has been significant and therefore something needs to be done before it is too late. The target was therefore on preschool children that were about to begin school. The idea was that if speech and language skills are improved at a young age then it’ll cost the government less in the future.

The research, like most, wasn’t without its problems. Speech and language therapists are trained in clinical settings on a one on one basis with the child. However, this research required a speech and language therapist to work with a group of preschool children, in 4 different, diverse and challenging preschool settings rather than a nice, quiet, pleasant room. Evidently, the newly qualified speech and language therapist struggled greatly and quit the research project within a month, delaying the speech and language intervention process. There was also poor parental response, commitment and engagement from parents which made the study challenging. However, there a ways this could be improved. Social media is very prominent in today’s society. Although I am still very much on the fence about the idea of children using technology I am all for parents getting involved in the online community. The internet is a great way to share and view ideas and educate yourself. Facebook, in particular, is a very popular site. Why not post videos on a secured, private Facebook page for adults to view whilst their flicking through their timeline in the evening, or private message them, post on their wall reminding them to attend a meeting tomorrow. Alternatively, send them a text. Most adults (and adolescents) are glued to their phones 24/7. Hold meeting straight after schools or school events so that parents are already at school and don’t have the chance to run away. What I am trying to say is that there are ways to overcome parental disengagement.

However, one of the possibilities for the lack of parental support of the speech and language study was due to the stigma surrounding speech and language therapists. Many parents are under the assumption that speech and language therapists are only for children who have definite problems. However, in the case of this study the focus was on ALL preschool children. Not just those with problems. There are a lack of speech and language therapists in the UK which leads to them being in high demand, but, the results of this study show the importance of having speech and language therapists for ALL children. The results were incredibly positive. All the children in all the 4 preschools showed improved language ability by the end of the study after having weekly sessions in a group environment with the therapist. If we are serious about targeting speech and language problems from a young age then group speech and language sessions within preschool settings seems to be the way forward. Perhaps a consideration of how speech and language therapists are trained also needs to be taken into account. For example, they should be trained in dealing with children in groups situations as well as in different environments such as churches where the acoustics are different to everyday life, or outside or simply within a classroom setting.

It is evident that something needs to be done sooner rather than later in order to prevent more speech and language problems in the future. The question is however when will these changes take place and when will the Government listen to expert research that shows something extraordinary.

No shoe policy

A new study has found that children are more engaged and tend to do better in school if they take their shoes off. It makes them feel more relaxed and creates a more homely environment. Have a read of the article below to see whether you think a no shoe policy is a good idea.

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/schools-encouraged-to-adopt-no-shoes-policy-to-improve-pupils-learning-and-behaviour-a7044576.html#

Lets make a fish climb a tree

I stumbled across a video that broadcasts the issues of the American/British education system. I couldn’t have put it any better myself. So, let’t not judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqTTojTija8

The 6 c’s of physical activity

I’m currently working as an intern on a research project regarding physical activity with children aged 0 – 5. The researchers, Dr Kristy Howells and Dr Catherine Meehan have been working hard to come up with a list of the 6 areas they believe are of importance when children are taking part in physical activity.

The 6 c’s are listed below:

  1. Control
  2. Coordination
  3. Confidence
  4. Concentration
  5. Competence
  6. Challenge

We are using an online questionnaire to collect data in regards to how physical activity is currently viewed in schools. The results from this will then be analysed and used to produce a set of guidelines for practitioners to follow in order to improve the levels of physical activity in schools and other settings.

The National Curriculum in the UK states that children should complete sustained physical activity and the NHS guidelines 2013 proposed at least 180 minutes of physical activity a day for young children. This is something many settings are falling short on which is why we feel that something needs to be done.

I spent the first week of my internship focused on conducting a literature review of the 6 c’s. 15, 000 words later it was clear that there was a lot of research out there. However, there was more research for some of the 6c’s in comparison to the others. My general findings were that research tended to focus on older children aged 6+ as well as little focus being placed on research into confidence, concentration and competence.

If you yourself are a practitioner or work with children in a school or activity setting then please get in touch as I would love to hear your views.

Below is a link to the online questionnaire which takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes to fill in:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1B3R4KxVcVjXQkyp6B5G1Sbl9Y0Trx_6pHTk9vOmsQmc/viewform

Also, why not follow us on our Twitter page:

@Heldresearch1

 

 

 

 

Classroom or dance studio…

The classroom isn’t for all children.

I just finished watching a programme called ‘The Tiny Tots Talent Agency’ and was blown away by the enthusiasm one of the children had for Musical Theatre. The young boy had ADHD and Autism which prevented him from going to mainstream school which resulted in his mother home schooling him. The mother explained how if she made her lessons active her son would be engaged but, as soon as a lesson involved picking up a pen and writing, he had no interest. What fascinated me was how much potential the boy had in dance. Instead of being cooped up in a classroom, the mother followed her sons dream to perform and enrolled him in part time dance lessons. Unlike in school, the boy excelled. He was praised. He was aloud to be loud. He was aloud to dance whenever he wanted. He was happy.

The programme follows him as he attends an audition at the prestigious London dance school – Pineapple Dance Studios. It is evident that he loves what he is doing and is happy to be there so it’s no surprise he is awarded a place. The theatre school focuses purely on Musical Theatre with no formal academic lesson given.

What particularly captured me about this story was that in school the boy was seen as a failure and unwilling to learn but as soon as he was dancing and being active, all the troubles went away. It made me think how many children out there are simply misunderstood. Yes, education is important but, for some children being active holds more importance. I’m not saying that children shouldn’t be taught to read and write but what I am saying is that more children need to be given the chance to excel in non – academic areas. If schools were to place more of an emphasis on sports, physical education, music, drama and dance then I feel that more children would feel as though they are achieving highly in something. Some are good at maths whilst others are good at drama. Too much of an emphasis is placed on academic skills but there is more to life than times tables. Let children be active. Classes don’t need to be restricted to sitting at a desk, take children outside, let them run free and see what they discover in the environment around them.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-tiny-tots-talent-agency/on-demand/61665-004

Breadline Kids

Channel 4 Dispatches: Breadline Kids focuses on the lives of children whose families cannot afford to feed them.

The programme is shown through the eyes of the children themselves which definitely has an impact on the viewer. What’s upsetting is that the parents of two of the families actually work yet still have insufficient funds to provide food. One of the girls lives with her grandma as her mother is in hospital long term due to illness. This has meant that the grandmother has had to turn to a zero hours contract which means some weeks she can work up to 30 hours and other weeks there will be no work, this leads to an unsteady salary. What the grandma earns just about covers the cost of bills leaving very little money to feed the granddaughter.

The programme then shows what life is like for a single mother living in Hull with her two daughters. As with the other families shown, she struggles to provide food for her children. The youngest receives free school meals and attends a breakfast club. In order to provide for her family she takes drastic measures and becomes a prostitute leading to a more substantial earning. Even with her new job money is still tight leading to basic meals.

The family that created a lasting impression had a daughter suffering from Leukaemia. The dad had to quit his job as a gardener in order to look after his daughter and take her to her appointments at the hospital. With no income and limited benefits it was clear that the family were suffering. The son attended a breakfast club and received free school meals but the young boy spoke about going hungry at weekends and school holidays when the facilities were unavailable. The girl was at a time in her life where healthy, nutritious food would help speed up the recovery process yet with the lack of money, she, like the rest of her family had to go hungry.

It’s upsetting to see how children of such a young age have to worry about whether they will have any food to eat. In one of the richest countries in the world I find it shocking that people have to turn to food banks in order to survive.

I strongly recommend having a watch, the link is shown below:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches

Money money money

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It’s often said that the best things in life come free. To some extent I agree with the statement but in reality we do need money in order to survive.¬†Food in particular, is needed for survival.

Research has shown that providing free school meals to infant pupils in the UK education system has had astounding effects on their concentration levels as well as leading to a boost in their learning. However, for many of these children, their free school lunch is the only hot meal they receive each day. Children require a substantial amount of food in order to provide them with the energy they need to grow and develop, although having a free hot meal at school during term time helps them, this service is unable during the school holidays.

The numbers attending food banks increased by 21% over the current Easter holidays in London alone. An outstanding number. This shows how many rely on the free meals service. It is evident that more needs to be done in order to provide a free meal holiday scheme for children whose families simply can’t afford to feed them.

Furthermore, I feel the Government needs to focus more on providing fruit, vegetables and healthy foods at a discounted rate for those on a low income. Fast food is cheap, meaning it’s accessible to those with little money. However, this has led to a growing obesity problem across the world, particularly in Western countries such as America and the UK. Due to the pressures the media places on children, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and poor mental health is also on the rise. If more free activity sessions were available to children as well as discounted healthy foods then these problems would gradually be eradicated.

I’ll leave you on a shocking statistic:

The number of people relying on food parcels has not been higher since the Second World War.

If this doesn’t make the Government think then I don’t know what will. Be thankful for what you have.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35937343