Researchers are looking for 920 primary schools to test six educational projects covering grammar, reading, science and phonics, after £4 million in funding was agreed by the Education Endowment Foundation. The projects were previously piloted in small, randomised trials and, having been found to boost pupils’ attainment, are now being tested on a larger scale.
Nearly two-thirds of primary schools do not have a counsellor on site, despite research showing that a fifth of children will suffer mental health problems in their first 11 years. The findings from the NAHT headteachers’ union and mental health charity Place2Be come just weeks after Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, told MPs that every school in the country should have a counsellor on site. More than three-quarters of the 1,500 heads surveyed cited financial constraints as the main barrier preventing them from hiring a counsellor. Headteachers said that pupil mental health was a major concern, but too few had the support on hand to deal with it.
Primary schools could have a role in reducing tooth decay in children, a Conservative MP who is also a practising dentist has suggested. Sir Paul Beresford pointed out in a debate on children’s dental health that in Scotland, the government has distributed fluoride toothpaste and toothbrushes to children in their first year at nursery and first year at primary school, and Wales has a similar programme. He said that the government should consider investing in a national programme in England and asking schools to check that every child visits the dentist once a year.
Legislation that could usher in an era of high-stakes national primary literacy and numeracy testing in Scotland has been passed by the country’s Parliament. But the charity Children in Scotland says that testing children in the first year of primary school, as set out in the National Improvement Framework, is “not appropriate for their age”.