25th March 2016 at 00:00

Parents’ smoking harms learning

Children whose parents smoke are likely to struggle educationally, a new Canadian study suggests.

Linda Pagani, from the University of Montreal, and Caroline Fitzpatrick, from Concordia University, in Montreal, conducted a longitudinal study of more than 2,000 primary pupils.

By the time they were 10 years old, the children who were exposed to their parents’ secondhand smoke were less confident and less engaged in the classroom than their peers. Smokers’ children also found it harder to follow classroom directions and to remain focused on a task.

It’s all talk on business innovation

School leaders are very keen to learn from the business world, but are not successful in implementing these ideas, academics have shown.

Orit Hazzan and Dafna Zelig, of the Israel Institute of Technology, conducted an analysis of research into links between the education and business sectors. They found that there was a gap between the education sector’s desire to learn from business and its success in doing so.

The academics explained this by saying that while the business world tends to adopt innovation in a proactive manner, educational innovation is more reactive.

Experiments make science fun

Science teachers wanting to ensure their pupils are interested in their subject should use plenty of hands-on experiments, research says.

Steffen Tröbst, of Kiel University in Germany, along with four other German academics, studied attitudes to maths among 1,326 primary and 1,354 secondary pupils. They found that pupils’ interest in science declined substantially during the transition from primary to secondary school.

At primary level, the use of pupil-led experiments, along with opportunities for pupils to offer their own explanations for classroom activities, increased levels of interest. There were fewer such opportunities at secondary school.

Delaying school boosts attention

Delaying the age at which children start school by one year significantly reduces their levels of inattention and hyperactivity, research shows.

Thomas Dee, of Stanford University in the US, and Hans Henrik Sievertsen, of the Danish National Centre for Social Research, examined the effects of delayed school enrolment on Danish pupils, who typically start school during the year in which they turn 6.

They found that a one-year delay reduces inattention and hyperactivity in seven-year-olds, which has an impact on pupil achievement.


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