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On the CASE

Daniel Goleman is right that children's ability to focus their attention is a good predictor of future success and that this skill can be developed by teaching ("Boost attention span to ensure lifelong success", 8 November). But he is mistaken to suggest that this needs separate lessons.

There is good evidence that cognitive focus can be developed very effectively in subject lessons designed for this purpose. The Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education (CASE) programme developed in the 1980s has proved this in more than 20 international studies. Longer-term studies using the cognitive acceleration programmes in science and maths repeatedly show attainment increasing over prediction by more than a GCSE grade. The new programme in English is having the same effect.

By coincidence, these cognitive acceleration programmes are based on concepts developed by Lev Vygotsky - the social construction of understanding and the zone of proximal development - about which Mary Bousted writes in the same issue of TES ("The great defender of the freedom to learn", Comment, 8 November).

Laurie Smith, Research associate, department of education and professional studies, King's College London.

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