Give young children eye tests to improve their literacy, as one in ten may have undiagnosed conditions
Preparing for Literacy, published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) today, reviews the best available research to offer early years professionals practical “do’s and don’ts” to make sure all children start school with the foundations they need to read, write and communicate well.
According to the report, around 13 per cent of children in the UK could have undiagnosed eye conditions - like short-sightedness, or astigmatism - that hold back the development of their literacy skills. For example, it is more difficult to learn to read if you can’t see well enough to discriminate the different in how letters look, or see what the teacher is pointing to. While these issues can affect all children, those from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to go without a diagnosis.
The report is urging early years professionals to make sure that all their children with possible eyesight problems are identified, and that settings ensure that children who are given glasses or other treatments use them. It notes that not being able to see well is an unnecessary barrier to making sure that all young children can access high-quality learning experiences at nursery and in reception.
The seven recommendations in today’s guidance report are each designed to support nurseries and early years settings to provide every child – but particularly those from disadvantaged homes - with a high-quality and well-rounded grounding in early literacy. Previous analysis by the EEF found there was already a 4.3 month gap between poorer pupils and their classmates before school starts.
A second recommendation focuses on the importance of high-quality interactions between adults and children to develop their communication and language skills. For example, early years professionals should make sure they talk with children – not just to them – through a wide range of approaches including shared reading and storytelling that teaches them new words.
Another recommendation suggests using a range of different activities – like singing, storytelling and nursery rhymes – to develop children’s early reading and ability to hear and manipulate sounds.
The other four recommendations are:
- Give children a wide range of opportunities to communicate through writing.
- Develop children’s abilities to manage their own behaviour and aspects of their learning.
- Support parents to make sure they know how to help their children learn at home.
- Give children who are falling behind targeted, high quality support to ensure they catch-up as quickly as possible.
Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
Making sure all young children with possible eyesight problems are identified, and those that are given glasses or other treatments use them is a cheap way of removing this unnecessary barrier to learning. It should be a no-brainer.
Our guidance report also includes a number of other recommendations to early years teachers to give young children the best possible chance of developing good language and literacy skills.
New episode of ‘Evidence into Action’ – ‘Cognitive Science in the Classroom’
Support for the design and early formative evaluation of new evidence-based programmes
Development and/or adaptation of a measure of teaching quality: call for proposals
Development of an EEF CRM system: call for proposals
New: EEF publishes evaluation of arts based education programmes
EEF blog: Planning to address scientific misconceptions
National Tutoring Programme Tuition Partners: Year 1 (2020-21) - Reflections on scaling interventions to create system change
EEF comments on delivering Year 1 of the National Tutoring Programme Tuition Partners (2020-21)
New: EEF publishes latest reports
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a new report from a study which aimed to develop a new science attainment measure, alongside an independent evaluation of EEF projects.
Year 5 science assessment
The Year 5 Science Assessment is a measure of Year 5 scientific ability, intended for pupils at the end of Year 5.
NTP year 1 evaluation
How we'll assess the impact of NTP Tuition Partners.
National Tutoring Programme Tuition Partners: Year 1 (2020-21) resources
EEF publishes new findings from reach and engagement evaluation
EEF commissioned evaluations of Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start
EEF Blog: Implementing cognitive science strategies in the classroom
EEF blog: Accelerated reader – what does the research tell us?
EEF publishes two new evaluation reports
Guest Blog: Retrieval practice - A common good or just commonplace?
New episode of ‘Evidence into Action’ – ‘Teacher Feedback to Improve Pupil Learning’
EEF Blog: Integrating evidence into mathematics teaching – Focus on feedback
New: What do we really know about cognitive science in the classroom? EEF publishes new review of the evidence
EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the classroom’ - Applying Rosenshine’s principles to remote learning
EEF Blog: New case studies - Making effective use of diagnostic assessment
EEF Blog: ECF– Exploring the Evidence: Prior knowledge and Pupil Misconceptions
EEF Blog: Three keys to unlocking positive learning behaviours
Kirsten Mould explains how schools might tackle the implementation challenge of building effective learning behaviours.
EEF Blog: ECF – Exploring the Evidence: ‘Adaptive Teaching’ and Effective Diagnostic Assessment
EEF publishes findings from ‘Big Lockdown-Learning Parent Survey’
New EEF podcast: Developing Oral Language
EEF Blog: Integrating evidence into mathematics teaching – Guiding problem solving
EEF Blog: Phonics - mastering the basics of reading
EEF Blog: Assess, adjust, adapt – what does adaptive teaching mean to you?
EEF publishes new research on the impact of the pandemic on Key Stage 1 pupils’ attainment
EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the classroom’ - Delivering feedback after exam practice
EEF Blog: Teaching reading - Embedding comprehension strategies
EEF publishes findings from systematic review of attainment measures
EEF Blog: Integrating evidence into mathematics teaching – Making use of manipulatives
How to use the Attainment Measures Database
Young Children’s Achievement Test – Second Edition
York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension – Secondary Set
York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension – Early Years Set
York Assessment of Reading for Comprehenion: Primary
Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests – Third Edition
Writing Assessment Tasks
Wide Range Achievement Test – Fifth Edition
Wide Range Achievement Test – Fourth Edition
Wide Range Achievement Test – Expanded
Word Recognition and Phonic Skills Test
The WORD Test 3 – Elementary
The WORD Test 2 – Adolescent
Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey
Word Identification and Spelling Test
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fourth UK Edition
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Third Edition
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Second UK Edition for Teachers
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Second UK Edition
White Rose Maths
Collins Maths Progress Tests for White Rose (Year 1–6/P2–7)
Writing Assessment Measure
Test of Written Spelling – Fifth Edition
Tutors’ Guild Year Six Mathematics Tutor Assessment Pack
Tutors’ Guild Year Six English Tutor Assessment Pack
Tutors’ Guild Edexcel GCSE (9-1) Mathematics Tutor Assessment Pack
Tutors’ Guild Edexcel GCSE (9-1) English Language Tutor Assessment Pack
Tutors’ Guild AQA GCSE (9-1) Mathematics Tutor Assessment Pack
Tutors’ Guild AQA GCSE (9-1) English Language Tutor Assessment Pack
The Trouble with Maths
More Trouble with Maths
Test of Written Language – Fourth Edition
Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency – Second Edition
Test of Silent Reading Efficiency and Comprehension
Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency – Second Edition
Test of Reading Comprehension – Fourth Edition
Test of Phonological Awareness – Second Edition: Plus
Test of Mathematical Abilities – Third Edition
Test of Orthographic Competence
Test of Adolescent and Adult Language – Fourth Edition
Test of Irregular Word Reading Efficiency
The Shanghai Maths Project – Practice Books For the English National Curriculum (Years 7–10)
Test of Early Written Language – Third Edition
Test of Early Reading Ability – Fourth Edition
Test of Early Mathematics Ability – Third Edition
Single Word Spelling Test
Single Word Reading Test
Spot the Word – Second Edition
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales – Fifth Edition
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales – Fifth Edition for Early Childhood
Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales
Social Skills Improvement System Performance Screening Guide
Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program
Snap Science – Years 1–6
Sigma Science Assessment
Shaywitz Dyslexia Screen
Symbol Digit Modalities Test
Scottish Heinemann Maths
Science Knowledge Questionnaire Year 4 (Pre-test) and Year 5 (Post-test)
Science Assessment Series 1 and 2 – Tailored Extracts
Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary and Middle School Students – Third Edition
Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary and Middle School Students – Second Edition
Reading Milestones Placement and Monitoring
REVISE AQA AS/A Level Biology, Chemistry and Physics Exam Skills Builder with ActiveBook
Notes to editors
- The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a grant-making charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust (now part of Impetus–The Private Equity Foundation), with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education. The EEF is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £92million to test the impact of 152 projects reaching over 9,900 schools, nurseries and colleges across England. The EEF and Sutton Trust are, together, the government-designated What Works Centre for Education.
- The full report will be available here, from 0001 on Friday.
- The NHS funds eye examinations and glasses for children and the UK National Screening Committee recommends that all children aged four should be screened for eye conditions. However, the report notes that these services vary by local area and many parents don’t take identified children to attend have a full check-up. Even in areas that do provide some screening service, it may not be comprehensive enough to identify all possible issues.
- The Department for Education recently announced a £5m home learning environment fund, run by the EEF, to give families extra support to help with children’s early language and communication skills. The funding round is open until the end of July. More information and details on how to apply can be found here.
- This guidance report draws on the best available evidence regarding the teaching of communication, language and literacy to children in the early years.
- The primary source of evidence for the recommendations is the Early Years Teaching and Learning Toolkit, which is a synthesis of international research evidence developed by Professor Steve Higgins and colleagues at the University of Durham with the support of the Sutton Trust and the EEF.
- However, the report also draws on a wide range of evidence from other studies and reviews regarding literacy development and teaching. The emphasis is on rigorous evaluations that provide reliable evidence of an impact on pupil learning outcomes. The intention is to provide a reliable foundation of what is effective, based on robust evidence.
- The report was developed over several stages. The initial stage produced a scoping document that set out the headline recommendations and supporting evidence. This was then revised with support and feedback from an advisory panel of teachers and researchers.