STV reports on the recent findings that over 50% of Scottish prisoners are illiterate or innumerate. This has caused some concern among politicians, with Justice spokesman Richard Baker commenting: "These figures highlight just how important tackling illiteracy is. If we cut illiteracy, then we can cut crime too..." Scotland unveiled their Literacy Action Plan in October 2010 with the aim of improving literacy rates across Scotland. Full story
The Guardian reports on the plans for World Book Night on March 5th in London's Trafalgar Square where 10,000 people are expected and top authors will be reading from their favourite books. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who supports these plans commented: "The ability to put pen to paper has given us the glorious capacity to share experience, history and knowledge – and one of life's greatest pleasures, which is to read a book." He added that he hoped World Book Night "will stimulate latent as well as avid readers". Full story
The Independent reports on new research findings which shows that re-reading the same stories to children improves their reading skills. Dr Jessica Horst, who carried out this research, commented: "What we think is happening with reading is that each time a child hears the book, they are picking up new information..." Dr Horst added: "We know that the more books you have at home, the higher the academic achievement...This research shows that it's not the number of books but the repetition of each book that leads to the greater learning." Full story.
The Guardian reports on the concern expressed by literacy campaigners about the use of non-words in reading tests for six year old children in England. David Reedy, president of the UK Literacy Association (UKLA) argues that such teaching will confuse children and stated: "The inclusion of non-words is counterproductive since most six-year-olds expect to make sense of what they read...Thus non-words are likely to confuse children used to reading sense, to the point that they underperform." Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, commented: "....Too many children leave primary school unable to read and write properly – we are determined to raise standards and the new phonics-based reading check for six-year-olds will ensure that children who need extra help are given it before it is too late, and then can enjoy a lifetime's love of reading." Full story
The Independent reports on the new phenomenon of using blogging to improve writing skills in primary schools. Heathfield primary school in Bolton found that when children were encouraged to write their own stories and submit them as a blog to their school website, boys' writing skills dramatically improved. Blogging has now been added to the school curriculum and Heathfield primary school has become a model for other schools who have also found similar results. Full story
The Independent reports on the figures from the Times Educational Supplement (TES) through Freedom of Information Requests (FOI) which show that approximately 12,000 children are missing from educational lists.
Enver Solomon, director of policy for the Children's Society, told the TES: "It is vital children don't disappear from the school roll. There's a danger this could happen to vulnerable pupils if schools just focus on attainment and their welfare is overlooked...The most marginalised children have the most complex needs: they must be given additional help to remain in education."
Martin Narey, former Barnardo's chief executive, added: "School is somewhere that every child needs to be every day....For many of our most vulnerable young people it is the only stability they know, the only time when a little chaos is taken out of their lives, the only time when they are required to behave reasonably". A spokeswoman for the Department for Education (DfE)
commented, "We know that absence from school has a long-term impact on pupil attainment, and we share the concerns that children who become lost from education could become vulnerable to neglect or abuse...Local authorities have a legal duty to take all steps possible to establish the identities of children in their area who are not receiving a suitable education."
The CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) offer important advice to young people who might be tempted to send indecent text images: think before you send. Many people fail to realise that once such images have been sent, they can be re-distributed endlessly and even end up being posted on the Internet. CEOP express their concern that such images often end up in the possession of paedophiles. Peter Davies, Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre says: "...They often find out later that the image has been passed on to many others and as a result they can be the victims of bullying or harassment." Full story
The Daily Mail reports on the findings from a major UK study which shows that toddlers who eat junk food on a daily basis, will have a lower IQ by the time they are in primary school. They specifically found that children who are under three years old with such poor diets develop a lower IQ within five years. The researchers, Dr Pauline Emmett and Dr Kate Northstone, state the importance of good nutrition during the first three years of life when the brain is said to be developing at its fastest rate and add that any damage due to poor nutrition, cannot be reversed later in life, even with an improved diet. Full story
The Telegraph reports on the declining role that geography plays in education, following the recent Ofsted report Learning to make a world of difference. Some of the evidence found that,"all but the best students… were spatially naive.The mental images they held of the world were often confused and they were not able to locate countries, key mountain ranges or other features with any degree of confidence".
It is important to view geography as an essential part of education as it 'contributes more than any other to young people's knowledge of the world, their understanding of the relationships between people and places, and their ability and propensity to think critically and creatively about the ways in which we affect the planet we live on'.