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Research

 

The school is currently involved in two studies. Please scroll down to find out more.

 

1. Evaluating the Families and Schools Together (FAST) Programme.

 

In June 2015 the school opted to be part of the FAST randomised trial which will look at how effective the programme is on the educational achievement on children. The school will be working closely with the NFER and Save the Children for the next 2-3 years. As part of the randomised trial schools that are involved with be chosed to either run the FAST programme or to be part of the control group. In both groups of schools the educational achievement of the September 2014 on entry cohort will be assessed to determine what impact the FAST programme might have had on them.

Families and Schools Together (FAST) is an award-winning early-intervention programme that brings parents, children, teachers and the wider community together, to make sure children get the support they need to fulfil their potential at school – and in life.

The impact of growing up in poverty in the UK can last a lifetime. It affects children’s wellbeing, their health and their life expectancy.

And it makes them less likely to do well at school than their wealthier peers:

  • If a child is born below the poverty line in the UK, they’re at risk of already being behind when they start school age five.
  • In 2012, one in three poor children left primary school without basic skills in both reading and maths.
  • In 2012, only 36% of children on Free School Meals achieved five good GCSEs (grades A*-C, including English and maths), compared to 63% of their better off classmates (children not on Free School Meals). 

How does FAST work?

FAST works by building stronger bonds between parents, schools and communities to make sure children get the support they need to do their best at school.The programme consists of an eight-week cycle of activity sessions, as well as help for parents to develop learning at home and ongoing support at school and within the community.

FAST supports families by:

  • helping children improve their skills in reading, writing and maths – as well as encouraging good behaviour and a positive attitude to school and learning
  • helping parents get more involved in their child’s education, so they can support learning and development at home
  • encouraging stronger bonds between parents and their child, their child’s school, other parents and the wider community.

Delivering Success

FAST has already transformed the lives of thousands of families in the UK. Between 2009 and 2012, 2,786 families took part in the programme, and as a result:

  • teachers reported that children’s behavioural problems decreased by 20%
  • parents reported that their involvement in school increased by 33%
  • 76.9% of parents felt more able to support their child in his or her education. 

The future for FAST

Save the Children are committed to scaling up FAST to reach thousands more children living in poverty in the UK.Their ambition is to deliver FAST to more than 50,000 children by 2017. The trial will help Save the Children to build evidence to present to the government, to ensure parental-support programmes like FAST are available to all families.

 

 

2. Exploring the effects of prematurity on educational achievement.

 

The school is currently undertaking some action research into the effects of prematurity on the education achievement of pupil. The research is being led by Ben Lyons, Head Teacher and Sue Anderson, Inclusion Manager.

The following extract has been taken from the Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project (2011).

On average, 4 children in a standard size class will have been born preterm, and 2 in every 100 children in schools will have been born either very or extremely preterm (Hornby and Woodward, 2009). Children born prematurely have been found to have a 50% higher probability of presenting with special educational needs (de Rodrigues et al, 2006), and poorer educational achievement has repeatedly been observed for very and extremely premature babies who reach school age (Pritchard et al, 2009).

According to a study by Whitfield et al (1997, p. F85):

Extremely low birth weight survivors were three times more likely to have learning disorders [than their full-term peers] (47% vs 18%) and 22 (41%) of the 54 ELBW children with learning disorders hadmultiple areas of learning difficulty.

Hornby and Woodward (2009, p. 427) write:

…educational difficulties represent the most commonly occurring cluster of adverse outcomes affecting children born very or extremely preterm, with up to two thirds likely to require educational assistance during their school years.

Very preterm children have been found to have IQs which are both towards the lower end of the normal range, and significantly lower than their full-term peers (Anderson and Doyle, 2008). However, even preterm children who appear to have no disability and present with IQs within the normal range are nevertheless at greater risk of academic performance disabilities (Saigal et al, 2000). According to a study by Bowen et al (2002), although 30% of children born with ELBW were found to function at or above average academic levels, 43% of these children required some form of special educational support, and 27% were academically below average in either numeracy or reading.

The school is collecting information about children who were born prematurely and are grouping them into 3 groups.

  • Normal birth: Over 37 weeks.
  • Preterm: less than 37 weeks gestation.
  • Very Preterm: less than 32 weeks gestation.
  • Extremely Preterm: less than 28 weeks gestation.

A child’s birth weight can also have a significant impact on their development.

  • Normal birth weight: over 2500g
  • Low birth weight: less than 2500g
  • Very low birth weight: less than 1500g
  • Extremely low birth weight: less than 1000g

The school is tracking these children’s educational journey to see what their needs might be, how they are supported and how their educational ability matches to their corrected and their actual age. We will also assess whether targets should be matched to their corrected age rather than their actual age.

Many mainstream schools do not yet identify children who are born prematurely when they join the school and so don’t necessarily anticipate that they may be vulnerable to educational underachievement. The idea of the research will be to better understand the educational needs of pupils who are born prematurely and to assist other schools in identification, tracking and supporting of these pupils.

Existing research and information on this field can be found at the following online links:

http://www.ssatuk.co.uk/ssat/supporting-children-born-premature/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1399430.stm

http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v43/n4s/full/pr19981450a.html

http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/impact-premature-birth-maths-achievement-and-schooling

 

The following research documentation may also be useful:

Anderson, P and Doyle, L W (2008) Cognitive and educationaldeficits in children born extremely

preterm, Seminars in Perinatology, 32, 51–58.

 

Bowen, J, Gibson, F and Hand, P (2002) Educational outcome at 8 years for children who were born

extremely prematurely: a controlled study, Journal of Paediatric and Child Health, 38 (5), 438–44.

 

de Rodrigues, M C C, Mello, R R and Fonseca, S C (2006) Learning difficulties in schoolchildren born

with very low birth weight, Journal de Pediatria, 82 (1), 6–14.

 

Feder, K, Majnemer, A, Bourbonnais, D, Platt, R, Blayney, M and Synnes, A (2005) Handwriting

performance in preterm children compared with term peers at age 6 to 7 years, Developmental

Medicine and Child Neurology, 47, 163–170.

 

Guarini, A, Sansavini, A, Fabbri, C, Alessandroni, R, Faldella, G, and Karmiloff-Smith, A (2009)

Reconsidering the impact of preterm birth on language outcome, Early Human Development, 85,

639–645.

 

Hack, M, Taylor, H, Drotar, D, Schluchtar, M, Cartar, L, Andreias, L et al (2005) Chronic conditions,

functional limitations, and special health care needs of school-aged children born with extremely

low-birth-weight in the 1990s, Journal of the American Medical Association, 294 (3), 318–325.

 

Johnson, S, Hennessy, E M, Smith, R, Trikic, R, Wolke, D and Marlow, N (2009) Academic attainment

and special educational needs in extremely preterm children at 11 years of age: the EPICure Study,

Archives of Disease in Childhood, 94 (4), F283–F289.

 

Pritchard, V E, Clark, C A C, Liberty, K, Champion, P R, Wilson, K and Woodward, L J (2009) Early

school-based learning difficulties in children born very preterm, Early Human Development, 85,

215–224.

 

Saigal, S and Taylor, H, Klein, N, and Hack, M (2000) School-age consequences of birth weight less than 750g: a

review and update, Developmental Neuropsychology, 17 (3), 289–321.

 

Whitfield, M, Eckstein Grunau, R and Holsti, L (1997) Extremely premature (< 800 g) schoolchildren:

multiple areas of hidden disability, Archives of Disease in Childhood, 77, F85–F90.

 

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