The Latest Research

Behavioural and Cognitive behavioural Group-based Parenting Programmes for Early-Onset Conduct Problems in Children Aged 3 to 12 Years (2012)

What? This new systematic review assesses the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting programmes for improving child conduct problems, parental mental health and parenting skills. The review, which was produced for the Cochrane Collaboration, involved more than 1,000 participants, and included 13 trials (10 randomised controlled trials and three quasi-randomised trials) of behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting interventions for parents of children aged 3 to 12 years with conduct problems. The results of the review demonstrate that group-based parenting programmes improve children’s behaviour problems in the short-term, as well as developing positive parenting skills and reducing parental anxiety, stress, and depression. The evidence collected also shows that these programmes are cost effective and achieve good results at a cost of approximately £1,712 per family. These costs are modest when compared with the long-term social, educational, and legal costs associated with childhood conduct problems. Further research, however, is needed on the long-term assessment of outcomes.

Where? The report is available through the Cochrane Library

Writing to Read: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Writing and Writing Instruction on Reading (2011)

What? A recent meta-analysis published in the Harvard Educational Review has shown that writing about something they have read improves pupils’ understanding of the text, as well as their reading fluency and word reading; and increasing how much they write enhances their reading comprehension. This was seen to be true for pupils in general and pupils who were less able readers or writers in particular. It also applied across descriptive and narrative writing as well as in subject areas. In particular, the study found four types of writing activities to be effective: extended writing, summary writing, note taking, and answering or generating questions. To reach this conclusion, the authors reviewed findings from 92 studies on the topic. They focused on studies that: had an experimental or quasi-experimental design; involved a treatment group that wrote about what they read, were taught to write, or increased how much they wrote; and included at least one reading measure that assessed the impact of the writing treatment or condition. Their findings provide empirical support for long-standing beliefs about the power of writing to facilitate reading.

Where: The report was published in the Harvard Educational Review, 81(4),

Supplementing Literacy Instruction with a Media-rich Intervention: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial (2012)

What? This study tested whether a literacy curriculum supplement integrated with media can improve literacy outcomes for young children. The curriculum supplement incorporated video clips from programmes such as Sesame Street as well as online games, hands-on activities and professional development. Findings showed that the supplement had positive impacts on children’s ability to recognise letters, sounds of letters and initial sounds of words, and children’s concepts of story and print.

Where? The report was published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(1)

The impact of an integrated approach to science and literacy in elementary school classrooms (2012)

What? A study, published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching tested the effects of an integrated science and literacy approach in 94 fourth-grade (Year 5) classrooms in one US Southern state. Half of the teachers in the study taught an integrated science and literacy unit on light and energy. This was designed using a curriculum model that engages pupils in reading text, writing notes and reports, conducting first-hand investigations, and frequently discussing key concepts and processes to acquire inquiry skills and knowledge about science concepts. The other half of the teachers taught a content-comparable science-only unit on light and energy, and provided their regular literacy teaching. Results of the study showed that pupils in the integrated science and literacy group made significantly greater improvement in science understanding, science vocabulary, and science writing. Pupils in both groups made comparable improvements in science reading.

Where? This report was published in Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49 (5)

Review of Early Education and Childcare Qualifications: Interim Report (2012)

What? This interim report, commissioned by the government and led by Professor Cathy Nutbrown, explores how best to help people working in early y ears education and childcare to improve their skills, knowledge and development. It considers how to strengthen qualifications and career pathways of those entering, or already employed in the early years education and childcare sector. In order to gather evidence for the review Professor Nutbrown conducted a large-scale public consultation, which included 982 written responses, five regional consultation events, a larger consultation event for stakeholders in Solihull, and an online survey of parents. The consultation raised concerns about the quality of tuition, the standard of qualifications, recruitment and retention, and career progression. Professor Nutbrown is considering these issues as she develops her recommendations for government and her final report is expected later in 2012.


Early Intervention: Informing Local Practice (2012)

What? Researchers from NFER (the National Foundation for Educational Research) have been looking at early intervention, that is, approaches delivered “early in the life of a problem, or when children are younger”. This report is the fourth in a series for the Local Government Association that is designed to help local authorities and their partners in their decision making and planning on early interventions. The report reviewed previously published literature on the impact of early intervention on outcomes for children, young people and families to provide a summary of examples and further evidence of early intervention approaches shown to improve outcomes, and information on the financial costs involved. From the evidence reviewed, the researchers found that early intervention approaches can have greater benefits in the long term and therefore be more cost effective. But it highlighted the need for programmes to be evidence-based, and for these to be delivered with fidelity to the programme’s design. The research also identified the need for a workforce that is knowledgeable and skilful in identifying families in need, and that is equipped to support them to access appropriate service provision. The report sets out a number of recommendations for policy makers, local authority managers and practitioners, but the authors emphasise that more work is needed to improve the evidence that is available, especially information about cost-effectiveness.

Where? The report is available through the NFER website,

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February 2013