Daily exercise is better than none

19th December 2008 at 00:00

A recent report in a Scottish newspaper, attacking the use of education cash for the promotion of "mumbo jumbo" methods in schools such as brain gym, contained a number of incorrect statements about the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology.

It is true that recent investigations into the efficacy of brain gym suggest that there is little scientific evidence to support the widespread belief that such exercises make a significant difference to children's academic performance. However, there is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that traces of primitive reflexes and immature balance and co-ordination are factors in children who underachieve academically, and that traces of abnormal reflexes can persist in the school-aged child in the absence of a serious medical diagnosis such as cerebral palsy.

A 2005 study reported the results from several schools of a daily physical intervention programme using the INPP exercises, carried out over one academic year. There was a significant improvement not only in the reflex status of children who participated in the programme compared to control and comparison groups, but also in the "draw a person test" - a measure of non-verbal cognitive performance - and reading in a smaller group who had elevated scores for abnormal reflexes and reading age below chronological age at the outset.

Other findings suggest that any daily movement is better than none, but that developmentally appropriate movements are more effective.

Follow-up evaluations into the efficacy of the INPP programme for schools are ongoing in Northumberland and will continue over the next few years.

The newspaper report also implied that it costs Pounds 1,000 to train a teacher to implement this programme. An in-service training day costs Pounds 1,000 for up to 40 attendees in England and up to 30 in Scotland. This means a cost of Pounds 25 and Pounds 33 respectively per teacher, and the teacher can implement the programme with a class of 30 children.

As the article has been widely read in Scotland and is potentially damaging to our institute and to schools implementing the programme, I would appreciate it if The TESS would publish this correct information.

Sally Goddard Blythe MSc.FRSA, director, Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP), Chester.

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