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Progress in reading stalls at secondary school. It should be a priority

The Guardian – Keith Topping

“We have a persistent problem encouraging secondary school pupils to read challenging and age-appropriate books. The tenth annual What Kids Are Reading Report, which analysed the reading habits of almost one million school pupils from 4,364 schools that use the Accelerated Reader assessment programme, found that this is true across Britain and Ireland. The report revealed that progress made by pupils in primary school halts when they transfer to secondary school and, from then on, the gap between students’ reading ability and their age grows wider each year. Worryingly, by the later years of secondary school many students are reading books that are no harder than those in primary school.” (more)

Exercise is more precious than ever. So let’s stop scaring kids off PE

The Guardian – Anna Kessel

“When I was growing up I routinely bunked PE lessons. I saw PE as optional – it was on the timetable, but no one seemed to care if you didn’t attend. PE was for sporty kids anyway, and I wasn’t one of them. Times have changed. We now know so much more about the value of physical activity – for physical and mental wellbeing, to promote positive body image in women and girls, to help people with depression, to engender a healthy lifestyle from an early age, to sharpen concentration and academic performance, and even to tackle the gender pay gap (research shows that women who play sport are more likely to enjoy high-flying careers).” (more)

‘It’s given the children a love of wildlife’: the schools letting nature in

The Guardian – Emma Sheppard

“The number of schools using gardens and the natural world to teach students continues to increase. The campaign for school gardening, a programme run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), now has 20,000 school members, with 81% growing plants specifically to attract wildlife and pollinators. “Biodiversity underpins everything,” says campaign manager Alana Cama.” (more)

To foster a love of art in children, we must teach it at primary school

The Guardian – Emily Gopaul

“It’s no secret that arts subjects are increasingly being deprioritised in many schools, and that there’s a fall in the number of pupils taking arts subjects at GCSE. Yet the arts matter, not only to individual learning but to the UK as a whole: the creative industries currently contribute £84.1bn a year to the economy. Enthusiasm for art should really start at primary school – by the time students reach year seven, attitudes about what matters in education will have already been established.” (more)

Is social media causing childhood depression?

BBC – Jane Wakefield

“Rangan Chatterjee is a GP and says he has seen plenty of evidence of the link between mental ill-health in youngsters and their use of social media. One 16 year-old boy was referred to him after he self-harmed and ended up in A&E. “The first thought was to put him on anti-depressants but I chatted to him and it sounded like his use of social media was having a negative impact on his health.” So Dr Chatterjee suggested a simple solution – the teenager should attempt to wean himself off social media, restricting himself to just an hour before he went to bed. Over the course of a few weeks, he should extend this to two hours at night and two in the morning.” (more)

Every school needs a staff wellbeing team – here’s how to start one

The Guardian – Daniella Lang

“I started as headteacher at Brimsdown primary school in Enfield, north London, during a troubling time for the school. There had been two requires improvement Ofsted inspections, and it was judged to be in the lowest 10% for year 6 reading progress. The subsequent changes my leadership team and I made – a new English and phonics scheme, for example – and redundancies during the first year left staff morale low. So I made the decision to start a staff wellbeing team, and asked for volunteers from the teaching staff to help. The results have been extraordinary.” (more)