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Deep-seated knowledge

The editorial "Are you sitting comfortably?" (TES, October 21) reports Professor Neville Bennett as having long known of evidence on the effects of different seating arrangements on children's attention and criticises educational researchers and the media for not informing teachers.

Consistent evidence has indeed been available for many years, much of it gathered by Kevin Wheldall and his former colleagues at Birmingham and some by Bennett himself.

The charge of not having told teachers about it needs challenging, however.

Indeed, The TES reported one set of Wheldall's findings in 1981. The Elton Committee obliquely referred to the evidence and its implications for behaviour management and every one of the thousands of teachers who has taken part in Merrett and Wheldall in-service training programmes will have considered the issue of context on learning and behaviour. Not unusually, the impact of evidence on custom and practice has been limited.

The reason that sections of the news media have taken up this issue in the past month is not because it is new, but because "rows and groups" has a superficial relevance in a political knockabout over "common-sense traditional methods" and "barmy, trendy ideas".


Department of education studies and management

University of Reading


School of psychology

University of the West of England

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