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Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates – survey

The Guardian – Damian Carrington

“Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates, according to a new survey revealing the extent to which time playing in parks, wood and fields has shrunk. A fifth of the children did not play outside at all on an average day, the poll found. Experts warn that active play is essential to the health and development of children, but that parents’ fears, lack of green spaces and the lure of digital technology is leading youngsters to lead enclosed lives.”(more)

London pupils ‘behind global competition’

BBC – Sean Coughlan

“London’s schools are falling behind many global competitors, according to an analysis of international tests. The capital’s schools have been held up as a showcase of rising standards. But the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education study, using OECD Pisa test results, suggests they are weaker than those in many Asian cities and the rest of the UK. However, the OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher, has rejected the findings as “not credible”.”(more)

A-level maths standards down on 1960s but not on 1990s

BBC – Staff Writer

“Students who achieve a B in A-level maths today would only have secured an E in the 1960s, suggests research. However standards have been stable since the 1990s, with no evidence of any further fall since then, says the Loughborough University paper. The researchers compared the level of mathematical knowledge needed to tackle today’s maths A-level papers with those from the 1960s and 1990s. The government said its reforms would help tackle grade inflation in England. The authors say their work, published in the British Educational Research Journal amounts to one of the most comprehensive studies into A-level standards.”(more)

Early language skills ‘key to later success’

BBC – Branwen Jeffreys

“Children with poor language skills at age five are significantly more likely to struggle with maths at age 11, a study for Save the Children suggests. It found 21% of pupils who struggled with language as they began school, failed to meet the expected standards in national tests when they left. The researchers said poor language skills had an effect on all children, regardless of family background…Gareth Jenkins, from Save the Children, says the research demonstrates for the first time the most crucial determinant of success in Sats tests is how well children can communicate when they start school. The poorest children are more likely to start school without simple skills, such as being able to tell a short story, express feelings and communicate easily with a wide range of adults.”(more)

The brain science behind Britain’s new parenting classes

The Washington Post – Danielle Paquette

“British Prime Minister David Cameron thinks parents need government-approved advice on raising kids. British parents aren’t exactly thrilled with this recent proclamation. One of Cameron’s new policy prescriptions, unveiled Monday with an announcement that England will pour £70 million over the next five years into “relationship support,” was state-backed parenting classes. Vouchers, he said, would help cover the enrollment of low-income families. Behind the controversial new family agenda was a deceptively simple lesson from neuroscience…Scientists say our IQ, attention span, memory and impulse control, among a raft of other mental traits, are largely determined before age 3. So, Cameron said, new parents could use extra guidance on how to prime kids for success in the classroom and beyond.”(more)

Britain Looks to Reinvigorate Apprenticeships, Vocational Education

Education News – Raymond Scott

“State schools in England will soon be required to spend as much time on vocational training as they do on academic subjects for students interested in landing an apprenticeship after their studies. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said that England’s education system should “level the playing field” by offering students all the options available to them. A new law will require the schools allow apprenticeship providers to advise and connect with young students to rub out an “outdated snobbery” against technical education.”(more)