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.
Systematic review of evidence on Continuing Professional Development: call for proposalsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Assessing learning in the new academic year (Part 2 of 2) – how school leaders can best support pupils to regain lost learning
Prof. Rob Coe looks at the role of quality assessment in helping teachers understand how best to help your pupils regain any learning lost during Covid-19 school closures.Download PDF get_app
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion monitoring form
The EEF is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our work.Download PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Assessing learning in the new academic year (Part 1 of 2) – three key questions for school leaders to consider
Prof. Rob Coe, looks at the different purposes of assessment to help teachers and school leaders think through what you want to put in place for the autumn.Download PDF get_app
Chief Executive’s Letter: The National Tutoring Programme is a huge opportunity to support schools and pupilsDownload PDF get_app
Covid-19 support guide for schools
Guide designed to help teachers and school leaders support their pupilsDownload PDF get_app
£350m National Tutoring Programme launched to support pupils in schools across EnglandDownload PDF get_app
National Tutoring Programme FAQs
National Tutoring Programme: FAQsDownload PDF get_app
National Tutoring Programme
Supporting schools to address the impact of Covid-19 closures on pupils’ learningDownload PDF get_app
Guest Blog: How can we support social and emotional learning during school closures?Download PDF get_app
Chief Executive’s Letter: Covid-19 has created the test of a generationDownload PDF get_app
Online tuition pilot launched as new EEF analysis finds school closures could undo recent progress on closing the attainment gapDownload PDF get_app
Best evidence on impact of school closures on the attainment gap
Rapid evidence assessment examining the potential impact of school closures on the attainment gap.Download PDF get_app
EEF publishes new evaluation reports, including pilot of early years app and school improvement programmeDownload PDF get_app
The EEF’s evaluation of Achievement for All: answers to key questions for teachers and school leadersDownload PDF get_app
Supporting schools with evidence – EEF timelineDownload PDF get_app
Using meta-analysis to explore the transferability of education mid-range theories to Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and NigerDownload PDF get_app
New evaluation reports: catch-up programme boosts young children’s language skills by +3 monthsDownload PDF get_app
Blog: Help with home learning - Talk with TRUSTDownload PDF get_app
Chief Executive’s Letter: Practical and evidence-based - our new tools to support schools and parents through the Covid-19 crisisDownload PDF get_app
Blog: Supporting the learning of mathematics at homeDownload PDF get_app
Blog: What learning should we be promoting for home during school closures?Download PDF get_app
Blog: Supporting parents to undertake brilliant book talkDownload PDF get_app
Blog: Four tips for a smooth home learning routineDownload PDF get_app
Remote schooling: new EEF evidence review highlights core features that can unlock its potentialDownload PDF get_app
Additional resources to support schools and parents.Download PDF get_app
Best evidence on supporting students to learn remotely
Rapid evidence assessment examining the existing research to support the remote learning of pupils.Download PDF get_app
Support resources to share with parents
Resources to share with parents on how to support home routines.Download PDF get_app
Support resources for schools
Tools for schools to help support home learning and maximise the impact of work set.Download PDF get_app
Cornwall Teaching Schools Together – a Partnership with EEF and the Research School networkDownload PDF get_app
Tameside Metropolitan Council and Oldham Research SchoolDownload PDF get_app
Chief Executive’s Letter: School closures - the disadvantage gap may widen, but there are practical steps we can take to minimise itDownload PDF get_app
Supporting schools through the Covid-19 crisis - EEF and Sunday Times launch new appealDownload PDF get_app
Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools
Five recommendations on special education needs in mainstream schoolsDownload PDF get_app
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)Download PDF get_app
Complement high quality teaching with carefully selected small-group and one-to-one interventionsDownload PDF get_app
Ensure all pupils have access to high quality teachingDownload PDF get_app
Build an ongoing, holistic understanding of your pupils and their needsDownload PDF get_app
Create a positive and supportive environment for all pupils without exceptionDownload PDF get_app
Guest Blog: How our school leadership became more evidence informedDownload PDF get_app
See full evidence reviews underpinning EEF guidance reportsDownload PDF get_app
Guest Blog: Top 7 Tips for Researchers Working with SchoolsDownload PDF get_app
Chief Executive’s Letter: What does R&R mean to the EEF?Download PDF get_app
EEF Blog: What can 63 EEF trials tell us about closing the attainment gap for young people with social care experience?Download PDF get_app
Systematic review of evidence on feedback: call for proposals (closed)Download PDF get_app
Can teaching GCSEs over three years help boost grades? New EEF grant to find outDownload PDF get_app
What works at Key Stage 4, two or three years of study?Download PDF get_app
New EEF grants announced, including three focusing on maths from the early years through to GCSEDownload PDF get_app
TEEM UP: Teaching Effective Early Mathematical Understanding in Primary SchoolsDownload PDF get_app
Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (second re-grant)Download PDF get_app
EEF announces expansion of Research Schools NetworkDownload PDF get_app
Becky Francis: “Surface-level compliance is the biggest threat to any change in education”Download PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Reading aloud with your class – what does the research say?Download PDF get_app
Guidance on data protection for grantees delivering or evaluating an EEF-funded projectDownload PDF get_app
Guidance on data protection for schools and settings involved in an EEF-funded projectDownload PDF get_app
Privacy notice for identified potential or current supportersDownload PDF get_app
Privacy notice for those attending an EEF-organised eventDownload PDF get_app
Privacy notice - information that we need to tell everyoneDownload PDF get_app
Chief Executive’s Letter: The EEF’s is a story of two gapsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: Improving mathematics - why starting early is crucialDownload PDF get_app
New EEF guidance published with 5 recommendations to improve early mathsDownload PDF get_app
Improving Mathematics in the Early Years and Key Stage 1
Five recommendations to support practitioners in developing the maths skills of 3-7 year-oldsDownload PDF get_app
‘The 7 things 100 RCTs tell us about the attainment gap’Download PDF get_app
Use high quality targeted support to help all children learn mathematicsDownload PDF get_app
Ensure that teaching builds on what children already knowDownload PDF get_app
Use manipulatives and representations to develop understandingDownload PDF get_app
Dedicate time for children to learn mathematics and integrate mathematics throughout the dayDownload PDF get_app
Develop practitioners’ understanding of how children learn mathematicsDownload PDF get_app
EEF Blog: The Voices informing Teacher ChoicesDownload PDF get_app
Social and Emotional Learning Evidence ReviewsDownload PDF get_app
Invitation for expressions of interest to be a peer reviewer (closed)Download PDF get_app
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.