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Archive for the 'Childhood & early education' Category

Dyscalculia: how to support your child if they have mathematical learning difficulties

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 December 2022

Jo Van HerwegenElisabeth Herbert and Laura Outhwaite.

A good grasp of maths has been linked to greater success in employment and better health. But a large proportion of us – up to 22% – have mathematical learning difficulties. What’s more, around 6% of children in primary schools may have dyscalculia, a mathematical learning disability.

Pexels / Pixabay

Developmental dyscalculia is a persistent difficulty in understanding numbers which can affect anyone, regardless of age or ability.

If 6% of children have dyscalculia, that would mean one or two children in each primary school class of 30 – about as many children as have been estimated to have dyslexia. But dyscalculia is less well known, by both the general public and teachers. It is also less well researched in comparison to other learning difficulties.

Children with dyscalculia may struggle to learn foundational mathematical skills and concepts, such as simple counting, (more…)

Vax-Pac Study: How to have better messaging and support on vaccines for parents of under-18s

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 October 2022

COVID vaccine decision information on how to support parents

Jess Zhou and Keri Wong.

The COVID vaccine roll-out has been one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in UK history, yet not everyone is on board. Studies of adults report some 15% of the population are resistant to getting vaccinated and up to 35% indicate they are hesitant towards COVID vaccines. These figures are not dissimilar to hesitancy rates for other vaccines and can have real implications for ongoing public health messaging and global pandemic intervention strategies.

Parents with children under 18 – who make vaccination decisions for themselves and for their children – form one group in need of better support because vaccine decision-making is particularly challenging. Understanding how parents made decisions about the COVID vaccination and what support they needed is important as this is a much-neglected group in COVID public health messaging.

Our UCL Vax-PaC Study led by Dr Keri Wong (PI) and Asako Miura (co-I) aimed (more…)

SEND Green Paper: How do we update the processes used in the SEND system to make it more efficient?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 September 2022

Early diagnosis is crucial. Photo:  RetyiRetyi / Pixabay

Miriam McBreen and Jo Van Herwegen.

In our second blog post responding to the DFE’s Green Paper on the future of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP), we look at how processes need to change to ensure the system more effectively supports these pupils.

This includes a need to improve the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process, in particular with regards to diagnosis and labelling, and to support practitioners to work more effectively with families.

First of all, the EHCP process needs updating. While the SEND code of practice suggests actively involving the child and parents, our research suggests the child’s voice is often not captured where it could be. Research from Tyan and Van Herwegen suggests the voices of children with intellectual disabilities as young as five years old can be accurately captured when professionals have appropriate training. This highlights the (more…)

SEND Green Paper: how can we update the system to improve children and young people’s experiences and outcomes?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 September 2022

Photo: olly via Adobe Stock

 Jo Van Herwegen and Miriam McBreen.

Children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) too often report negative experiences of the UK educational system, and have poorer outcomes compared to their peers.

Responding to the Department for Education’s Green Paper on the future of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP), we consider how provision can be improved to ensure that more children and young people have positive educational experiences, as well as better outcomes.

In the first of three blogs, we propose ways to improve standards for supporting children with SEND, both during their time in school and beyond.

First of all, standards should be established to support pupils with SEND during transitions, such as the move from primary (more…)

Leave policies review: getting serious about more equal parenting

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 September 2022

darkside-550 / Pixabay

Alison Koslowski, Peter Moss and Margaret O’Brien.

In 2015, the UK government introduced Shared Parental Leave (SPL), a measure to encourage more equal parenting. It enabled mothers to transfer up to 50 of their 52 weeks of Maternity leave, and some of the associated benefit, to fathers.

A government evaluation began in 2018, but has yet to deliver. It is clear, though, that SPL has not worked. A minister, in 2017, told the House of Commons’ Women & Equalities Committee that she ‘would regard anything over 20% [take up] as very encouraging’. A new analysis by Maternity Action comes up with the discouraging news that in 2021/22, ‘take-up among an assumed 285,000 eligible fathers was just 2.8%…just 8,100 fathers’. Just 0.66% of total public expenditure on Maternity and Paternity leave went on SPL.

Experience from countries with more successful leave policies provides pointers to what has gone wrong. That experience is available in the recently published 18th annual international review on leave policies, produced by a network of experts led by Professor Alison Koslowski, director
of UCL’s Thomas Coram Research Unit. The review brings together details of parenting leaves and other support for employed parents in 49 (more…)

Does educational disadvantage persist among children of care leavers?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 September 2022

Sam Parsons, Emla Fitzsimons and Ingrid Schoon.

There has been persistent research evidence that care-leavers tend to have lower educational outcomes compared to their peers. But there is little knowledge about the educational experiences of their children.

Our research, presented today at the British Educational Research Association annual conference in Liverpool, finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of educational disadvantage already in the very early years (age 3 and 5) through to GCSE attainment at age 16. However, once inequalities in family socio-economic background or area deprivation and housing are controlled for, children of care-leaver mothers perform just (more…)

Only children in the UK are doing just fine

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 July 2022

Jenny Chanfreau and Alice Goisis. 

One-child families are becoming more common in many countries, including the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, 18% of women born in the early 1970s had one child only, up from 12% among women born a decade earlier in the early 1960s and 14% among women born about a generation earlier, around 1945. Yet many outdated preconceptions and stereotypes persist about what only children are like and how their lives turn out. Our project, using data from four British birth cohorts born in 1946, 1958, 1970 and 2000-2002, provided a comprehensive analysis of the characteristics of only children born in different decades in the UK and how they are doing in childhood and adulthood. Overall, the picture that emerges around only children in the UK is reassuring.

For any research on only children, we first need to be clear about who is an only child. This might appear straight-forward at first glance, as the dictionary definitions of ‘Only child’ suggest: a child who has no sisters or brothers (Cambridge); a person who has no siblings (Collins); or a person who never had a brother or sister (Merriam-Webster). Yet closer reflection reveals (more…)

Covid-19: The children most likely to benefit from early childhood provision lost out the most

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 July 2022

Photo by Alex Albert

Claire Cameron, Katie Hollingworth, Hanan Hauari, Margaret O’Brien, Lydia Whitaker, Sarah O’Toole.

The Covid-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on everyone, but on some people more than others. Young children were not at especial risk of infection but the measures to control the spread of Covid affected every aspect of their lives, as our Families in Tower Hamlets project has shown.

The ‘stay at home’ order on 23 March 2020 and accompanying closures of early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings such as nurseries and schools to most children led to only 5–10% of children who usually attended early childhood settings doing so. Provision was only open for children of critical workers or those classed as vulnerable.

We found that young children in our Tower Hamlets study had a more extreme lockdown experience than most – there were few ways to escape the monotony of being indoors – and that social inequalities magnified the disadvantages some children (more…)

Belonging part 1:  the ‘red card’ of exclusion

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 June 2022

Kathryn Riley.

‘You must shun (this girl) .. avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, shut her out of your converse… (she) is a liar’.  So pronounced Mr Brocklehurst, proprietor of Lowood School. His venom was directed against Jane Eyre, the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Bronte’s novel.

Some time ago, I interviewed young people who had been excluded from school. They drew pictures of how they felt. One image has long haunted me. At the center is a small child looking distraught. The caption around the drawing reads:

      You’re thick..  You’re stupid..  You don’t belong here..  Get out of my school… (more…)

Safer Internet Day 2022: 7 things for parents and teachers to think about

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 February 2022

StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

Sandra Leaton Gray and Andy Phippen.

  1. Don’t panic! Most of the time, most young people are using digital technology safely and for positive reasons. However, that is not the sort of headline that will sell newspapers and generate traffic to their websites and, moreover, it is not the sort of message that will generate many donations to NGOs and charities.
  2. Remember that being online is not the same as crossing the road, despite what you might be told. While we might talk about road safety as a concept, applying that to the online world is problematic. The road setting tends not to change too much, and crossing the road is a relatively straightforward operation that can be addressed with simple safety instructions. In contrast, there are always new aspects to the online world, new games, apps, platforms and devices. We have to bear that in mind when (more…)