Cambridge Primary Review: government would do well to heed these child-centred recommendations

23rd October 2009 at 01:00

There has been considerable coverage of the recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review since its release last week ("Alexander Review: give us back our schools," October 16). But there has been little in-depth examination of why it has recommended that formal learning should not start until age 6, why boys are falling further behind under the current system and why a less centralised prescriptive curriculum is advised.

The key to learning success at every stage of education is developmental readiness. Although some children are ready to read at four-and-a-half, others will not be ready until 6 or later.

Boys are generally later than girls at developing the fine motor skills needed for writing and the control of gross motor skills needed to be able to sit still. These motor skills are developed through physical action and interaction with the environment in the early years.

Developmentally and neurologically, a child's brain is primed to learn in different ways at different stages in development. When education seeks to attain targets without going through the necessary building procedures first, it results in gaps or weaknesses in the system that can undermine higher aspects of learning later.

Learning is a biological as well as an educational process. Until education takes individual developmental readiness into account, we will continue to see an unacceptably high proportion of children in the British school system who underachieve. The Cambridge Review - if governments can only heed its recommendations - is a ray of hope for children and education in the future.

Sally Goddard Blythe, Director, Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, Chester.

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