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Five-year-olds enquire within

You would hardly expect the words "methodology" and "inquiry" to come from the mouths of babes.

But for Year 1 pupils at Colmore first school in Birmingham, these are everyday phrases.

A group of six five-year-olds is working on a research project about the use of the school's grounds.

The youngsters, who call themselves the Rainbow Research Team, have their own cameras and log their findings in notebooks ready for when they publish their results.

Interviews with other pupils and teachers about what they want to see in the play areas have been video-taped and recorded for use in the final analysis. Those who answer questions fully and co-operate with the research are given stickers.

Viv Randall, headteacher, said: "The scheme is part of our school development plan and the children are investigating how we should develop our outdoor environment.

"I have been interested for some time in using research methods as a means of teaching children.

"You can see how it raises their self-esteem, as well as giving them a lot of enjoyment. They learn how to record information, make notes and analyse the data. It also develops their communication skills because they have to deal with other pupils.

"It is particularly effective with more able children, who feel stretched and challenged by the experience, and it gives them an added focus."

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