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Testing a child in the web of fun

COMPUTER GAMES on the internet could be more than just fun for schoolchildren in their early years. Psychologists believe they could be an effective way to test a five-year-old's educational abilities.

Schools all over England are to take part in research to find out whether online profiling through web-based games can help teachers to identify learning difficulties more quickly and accurately.

The project, funded by the Department for Education and Skills, is being run by Screen Learning, an educational games company, with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

Dr Ian Walker, a cognitive psychologist at Screen Learning, said: "The games give teachers a much clearer idea of a particular child's core skills and abilities before they come to rely on these skills in their early education."

The study, in which 100 schools will take part, will run until January and could also lead to further development of personalised learning for young children.

The schools will use a series of games designed to give evidence to teachers completing the foundation stage profile, which includes assessments of children's emotional development and language and writing skills.

Foreign language versions of the software, which has been developed by educational psychologists and foundation stage teachers, are available for children who speak English as a second language.

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