Archive for May 2007

Asylum Seeking / Refugee Children

A new report entitled Supporting Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children, which examines provision in this area around the country, has just been published. If you have an interest in this subject, you may also be interested in last year's DfES report Preventative Services for Asylum Seeking Children or the most recent set of guidelines for schools - Aiming High - which were issued in 2004.

Any further reading on this topic should include a dose of Jill Rutter's output, as she is something of an authority in this area. We have a selection of her books in the library stock, but you can also access Working with Refugee Children - a report which she authored - in full online.


The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) is a University of Bristol project which has been running since 1991. The study began with the recruitment of 14,000 pregnant women, since when their children have been monitored closely as they have grown to build up a detailed picture of child health, behaviour and development.

As you might expect, a large number of reports and journal articles stemming from the research have been published as the project has progressed. I've already put up links to some of these in earlier blog posts, but for a full list of the research output you can follow this link.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

As it's another slow news day, here's an advert for one of my favourite research websites. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent charity that carries out research into social policy and development in the UK. What really sets the website apart is the huge collection of detailed research reports it contains that can be accessed in full (although well-written summaries of each report are also available). For a list of all of the JRF titles that are available follow this link (some older reports may only offer summaries), or if you have an interest in a specific area of social policy, then the Research & Policy Development page brings together links to materials on individual topics.

Copyright & Plagiarism

Life for academic cheats has just become a little harder - Google has banned adverts for essay writing services, amid fears that plagiarism and breaches of copyright are on the increase among students.

Admittedly, it's pretty difficult to get a clear understanding of what is and isn't legal according to copyright law in the UK. The College's Code of Practice on Plagiarism is available in the
student handbook, but clear advice on copyright matters is hard to find. The articles listed here - A Students' Guide to Copyright (courtesy of Staffordshire University) and Copyright and the Internet: Myth and Reality - should raise your awareness on some of the issues involved, but if you still have doubts about any items you're using then speak to your subject librarian and we'll help as best we can.

Academic staff can also have concerns about reusing materials for lectures; if you're in this position try looking at the newly-launched and interactive Online Copyright Activity from JISC, which uses scenarios to explain what is and isn't legal. For more detailed advice on copyright matters,
JiscLegal offer a free information service for staff working in both further and higher education.

My Turn

I am often reminded of the fears that young children have about new experiences. One of my granddaughters recently had oral surgery and lots of discussion had to happen before the event to dispel some of her fears. I never have and still don't like going to the dentist. I remember my mother holding my hand and reassuring me as I went to visit the town dentist. Even with reassurance, it still hurt. I had a role reversal this week. My mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's, had to have some teeth removed. I was trying to reassure her, prior to going in, that everything would be fine. I don't think she totally understood, but during a lucid moment she said, "I still don't like the idea." It was much like reassuring a child. It was my turn. I am sure it still hurt.


A worrying story from the BBC website suggests that the problem of cyberbullying has taken a new twist with teachers now also becoming victims.

As a relatively new phenomenon, there currently appears to be little available research in this area; to date, cyberbullying research has focused on cases where children are the victims. In July last year the Anti-Bullying Alliance published An Investigation Into Cyberbullying, which is possibly the first major UK study to look in detail at the problem.

In response the DfES has issued a set of guidelines to help schools, parents and pupils prevent and tackle cyberbullying. A free information sheet with similar tips is also available from the Anti-Bullying Network, while if you're completely new to the subject then Becta's article What is Online Bullying? should bring you quickly up to speed.

Early Childhood Education: An International Encyclopedia

This blog doesn't usually announce announce additions to the library's book stock, but today is an exception. We recently took delivery of Early Childhood Education: An International Encyclopedia, a four volume collection with entries on over 300 topics. Although a little US-centric, the content of the Encyclopedia is excellent with information on early years theorists, child development, child health, education systems around the globe and much more, as well as suggestions for further reading. As a starting point for finding out about a topic that is new to you, this comes highly recommended.

Creativity in Education

A couple of weeks ago I attended an interesting talk by one of our students about the importance of allowing children to express themselves creatively; now the latest issue of Education 3-13 brings together a collection of articles on the same topic. So what resources are available for the researcher in this area?

The answer is 'quite a few'! It's probably sensible to start with a look at All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education, the 1999 report which continues to be influential on subsequent efforts to promote creativity in education. Two years later the author Anna Craft produced An Analysis of Research and Literature on Creativity in Education, which is an excellent introduction for those who are new to the subject. 2003 then saw the publication of Ofsted's Expecting the Unexpected: Developing Creativity in Primary and Secondary Schools.

Clearly all of these reports have had an impact, as there are now two excellent websites which are dedicated to promoting creativity in education. Creativity: Find It, Promote It contains a mass of information including a database of useful documents, while Creativity in Education is a Scottish site with links to useful research and information about policy developments. Two further reports published last year - Nurturing Creativity in Young People and Emerging Good Practice in Promoting Creativity - should help to complete the picture.

School Dinners

Chips, pizza, lumpy custard... Everyone has their own memories of school dinners, but since Jamie Oliver's efforts to improve the standard of meals available for children, there has been a sense among legislators and campaign groups that 'something must be done.' This has led to a string of reports and initiatives from various bodies, all of them looking at how improvements can be made to existing school food provision.

The immediate response from the DfES was to set up the School Food Trust; their website is a fantastic source of information with up-to-date news, plus facts for both staff and parents, as well as detailed research reports. The Caroline Walker Trust is another group with an interest in this area (although their remit is broader than just school food).

For a really detailed research report on the subject, try reading School Meals in Primary Schools in England or Turning the Tables: Transforming School Food. Or for a study of how nutrition can be linked to children's educational achievements, take a look at this document from 2006: What is the Relationship between Child Nutrition and School Outcomes?

Boys and Reading

A joint initiative between the DfES and the School Library Association will see secondary schools in England receive free books to encourage teenage boys to read. To read more about the scheme, and see a list of the titles available to schools, take a look at Boys into Books.

The initiative is the latest in a line of attempts to address the achievement gap between boys and girls in school. A detailed investigation into the factors behind this gap entitled Raising Boys' Achievement was published by the DfES in 2005. Or for more information about the reading habits of children of both genders, two reports from the National Literacy Trust - Young People and Reading and Children’s and Young People’s Reading Habits and Preferences - are good sources of information.

Violence Against Children

UNICEF and the Inter-Parliamentary Union have collaborated on a new handbook aimed at legislators around the world. Eliminating Violence Against Children is online now, and is designed to tackle the issues of child protection and exploitation. The report also contains an impressive list of other resources within this area.

Children & Alcohol

A new survey has concluded that teenagers are less likely to binge drink if they are first introduced to small amounts of alcohol in the company of their parents. 10,000 questionnaires were distributed to 15 and 16 year old children in the North-West of England, and the responses to these form the basis of the results. The findings from the survey are interesting given that Alcohol Concern have recently called for parents who give alcohol to under-15s to be prosecuted.

A useful research report entitled Underage 'Risky' Drinking, which looks at this topic in some depth, is available from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website. You can also look at how the government is tackling the issue via the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy For England, while a summary of what's legal where children and alcohol are concerned is available from the BBC.

Mother's Day

I remember all the years of teaching school and wondering if I should have the children do a project for Mother's Day. I did, of course, so the child could begin the process of feeling gratitude. I recently came across a Mother's Day gift I made in grade school for my mother. I found it when I was going through her things. It is now priceless as my mother suffers from Alzheimer's and has risen to another plane. I hope all mothers get lots of mementos from their little ones this week. Perhaps they will save them and end up giving them back at some future day. I'm happy my mother saved mine as a reminder of her love.

Early Talk

Today sees the launch of a collaborative project between the DfES and children's charity I CAN to extend the reach of the Early Talk programme into around 200 children's centres across England. The programme gives early years practitioners access to information and resources that help them to support the development of communication skills in young children.

Anyone with a particular interest in this topic may also find the Talk To Your Baby website worth visiting. The site is hosted by the National Literacy Trust, and contains a useful collection of research and resources.

Home Education

Home Education is back on the agenda, after the DfES has issued a set of guidelines on the subject. There will now be a consultation period until 31 July to allow interested parties to comment, with a view to achieving a balance between the rights of parents to choose this option, and the responsibilities of local authorities to ensure that all home-schooled children receive a good education. The guidelines can be accessed here.

Children & The Media

It looks like all those blissful hours watching Camberwick Green may not have done me any good after all; according to a story in today's Telegraph, a new study has concluded that too much television exposure for toddlers can lead them to become aggressive and can also affect their attention span.

The subject of television's effects on children has been explored before; Television and Language Development in the Early Years is just one report which has looked at this topic. In recent years however, research has tended to focus on the wider range of media which children are now often exposed to in their daily lives. In 2002 the ITC published Striking A Balance: The Control of Children's Media Consumption, while more recently Ofcom was responsible for commissioning The Media Literacy of Children and Young People. On a different note, this Home Office report from 2001 looks at The Effects of Computer Games on Young Children.

But if, like me, you still have a sneaking affection for the TV of your youth, then perhaps this historical tour of children's television from the BFI will be of interest.

Inspecting the Inspectors

A new report has turned the tables on Ofsted, by examining how effective the organisation's inspections are in terms of raising standards in schools. The main conclusions from the NFER report are that schools are broadly satisfied with how inspections are carried out, although some critics argue that Ofsted reports merely highlight issues that staff are already aware of - Impact of Section 5 Inspections is now available online. Ofsted have also just published Review of the Impact of Inspection, a self-assessment document produced with regard to the NFER's research.


School-Aid is a charity which seeks to improve the educational opportunities of children in Africa by donating used resources from UK schools - altogether, schools in six African countries receive materials from the organisation.

School-Aid's work is particularly relevant in the light of a new report from the Global Campaign for Education, that criticises the levels of aid which developed nations are currently providing to fund education in poorer countries. The report - Class of 2007: Not Up to Scratch - was released ahead of yesterday's Keeping Our Promises on Education conference which brought together international ministers to debate these issues.

In-depth information on education around the world can be found on the website of the International Bureau of Education; the Country Dossiers are particularly useful, as they provide detailed descriptions of the educational systems of almost 200 countries.

Be Alert!

Today's entry is a plug for the NFER's OnTheWeb service. This is a monthly round-up with direct links to new educational reports and research which have just been published. There is also an option to sign up to receive an email alert whenever the latest newsletter is ready.

Here are just some of the new publications which were included in the latest issue: a report on poverty and social exclusion in the UK; an Ofsted document on the inspection of children's services; a Becta report on teaching e-safety at Key Stages 1 & 2; a guide from the School Food Trust on the Government's new standards for school lunches.

You can sign up to a similar service from Childlink via Athens, which will email you once a week with details of news stories, reports, research and statistics. Alerting services such as these are a fantastic way of staying abreast of your topic.

Evaluation Time

As we reach the end of the traditional school year, many teachers take time to assess where each child is functioning. It is appropriate to report to parents the progress their child made during the school year. I think it is also critical to share with parents the developmental continuum of progress. Sharing information about skills that are appropriate for a child's age level is useful information for parents. It helps them understand where their child is functioning on the developmental road map. It also helps parents who have unrealistic expectations for their child. As long as it is done appropriately, tracking a child's progress is critical to helping a child succeed.

Libraries Are Still Important!

As it's been a quiet few days on the news front, this entry deals with a subject in which I have a personal stake. Basically, I want to draw readers' attention to an article entitled 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important.

Obviously as a librarian myself I have a vested interest in this topic, but I would recommend that you take a look at the article as it raises valuable issues relating to study skills, different information sources and the reliability of the internet.