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4 year olds not physically ready for school

Articles published in The Independent , “I” and other papers in the last few days reporting the findings of a new pilot project which suggests that 4 year olds are not ready for school, confirm our earlier published findings (2004 and 2005).

Earlier this week, while lecturing to a group of nursery teachers on the importance of physical development to support learning success, I was asked why the government and education policy do not take this trail of research into account. Sadly, I think the manner of reporting does not help the cause. New findings tend to be reported as “news” or isolated findings, instead of being linked to previous research carried out by others. This means that the “body” of knowledge tends to be get lost in the system.

In a published study of 672 children in mainstream schools in Northern Ireland in 2005, results indicated that 48% of 5 -6 year olds and 35% of 8 – 9 year olds had immature motor skills which correlated with measures of educational performance. A follow up pilot study of 262 children in Birmingham schools (2013) found that children with the least mature motor skills were performing in the lowest quartiles on national curriculum measures of achievement. Both projects implemented a published daily programme of developmental exercises* with significant improvements in motor skills and non-verbal cognitive performance. The latter is important because it relates to social skills.

Twelve years on, I am still asking the question, why is there so little follow-up?

References: Assessing Neuromotor Readiness for Learning. The INPP Developmental Screening Test and School Intervention Programme. (2012) Wiley-Blackwell. Chichester. Releasing Educational Potential Through Movement. Child Care in Practice (2005) 11/4:415-432. An evaluation of the pilot INPP movement programme in primary schools in the North Eastern Education and Library Board, Northern Ireland (2004). Final Report prepared by Brain Box Research for the NEELB.

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