15th April 2016 at 00:00

New school-based research trials

A scheme that uses real-life problems to teach maths to teenagers and a programme to help predict pupils’ social and emotional development are among six new large-scale research projects that teachers will be carrying out in schools.

The government-funded Education Endowment Foundation has announced six grants for randomised controlled trials, to find out how best to raise attainment in schools.

Ten-thousand pupils in 130 schools will take part in the Maths in Context programme. This encourages teenagers to use maths to solve real-life problems, such as estimating the cost of a gas bill or calculating interest on a bank account.

A second grant – awarded to the University of Oxford and the UCL Institute of Education – will help early years teachers to improve the language skills and social and emotional development of three- and four-year-olds. These areas are known to predict children’s later development.

A third will fund Achievement for All, a whole-school approach to closing the attainment gap between children receiving free school meals or those with a statement of special educational needs and their classmates.

Three of the new trials will be testing different ways to improve the attainment of pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL).

EAL in the Mainstream Classroom helps teachers of Year 10 classes to develop specific resources for EAL pupils, and to differentiate between those with different language skills.

Integrating English will provide four days of training to teachers of Years 5 and 6, to enable them to improve the way that they teach linguistics and grammar.

Finally, the Family Skills programme focuses on helping parents to improve the literacy skills of reception-class children with EAL.

Extra maths helps girls with language

Giving girls extra maths tuition improves their maths results and native-language skills, new research shows. Boys who are given additional native-language lessons tend to perform better in language lessons, but worse in maths.

Elena Claudia Meroni, of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Italy, and Giovanni Abbiati, of Italy’s IRVAPP research centre, analysed the results of an EU-funded programme providing additional maths and language lessons for 10- to 11-year-olds in more than 300 Italian schools. They found that boys tended to view the extra language tuition as a reason to engage less during maths lessons.

Class beats income in attainment

Parents’ education and social class affect children’s educational attainment far more than “family status” and income, new research shows.

A study of almost 28,000 Swedish schoolchildren, conducted by Robert Erikson from Stockholm University, found that all four of these factors have an effect of children’s achievement in school.

However, parental earnings had the weakest link to school grades, while parents’ education and class were shown to have the strongest link. Professor Erikson suggested that this was because highly educated parents tend to value education for their children.

Academics launch Kenyan project

A new British research project aims to ensure that Kenyan schoolchildren have access to the education necessary to go on to university and find a well-paid job.

Academics from the University of Brighton’s Education Research Centre are working with Kenya’s Kenyatta and Moi universities. The project will offer professional development, including a mentoring scheme, for early career teachers. @adibloom

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