Research round-up: January 2020

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

SecEd's January research round-up includes managing risks related to knife crime, social mobility in higher education and a link between anxiety and eating disorders in girls...

Knife crime

Pupils aged 12 and 13 should be given lessons on how to manage anger in a bid to reduce knife crime.

A report by the Innovation Unit, an independent think-tank, highlights the fact that some young people are growing up in “chaotic” environments where conflict and violence are “normalised”.

It recommends that single-sex PSHE resources should be developed to help year 8 students (girls as well as boys) become “more risk-aware” and better able to manage aggression, hostility and conflict.

As well as interviewing 350 young people, parents, adult offenders and youth and faith leaders, the authors spoke to 326 primary and secondary teachers in Greater Manchester, where knife crime increased by 89 per cent between 2015 and 2018.

More than a fifth of the teachers said violence had grown in schools during that time; 23 per cent said physical attacks against them had increased and 26 per cent said verbal attacks against them had risen.

The teachers said some youngsters felt unsafe in school and on the way to and from school while parents expressed concern that exclusions – whether fixed term or permanent – made at-risk young people “more vulnerable to criminal recruitment and activity”.

“We’ve talked to teachers who want to improve students’ anger and emotional management and want police in schools to support pupils

in making good life choices,” said Matthew Horne, deputy director of the Innovation Unit.

The report, Community views on violence affecting young people in Greater Manchester, was published last month.

Random offers

Highly selective universities should consider offering places at random to students who achieve the minimum academic threshold, a think-tank has said.

Research by the Higher Education Policy Unit found that it will take nearly a century for elite universities in England to raise the participation rate of young people from the least advantaged areas to the existing participation rate of those from the most advantaged areas.

“Current progress on fairer access to our most selective universities is glacially slow,” said the report’s lead author, Professor Lee Elliot Major of the University of Exeter.

“The time has come for a simpler, more transparent, consistent and honest system of university admissions, recognising that A level grades and our system of predicted grades are no longer the gold standard of entry.”

The report, Social mobility and elite universities, was published last month.

Eating disorder warning

Teenage girls with anxiety could be at greater risk of eating disorders, according to research by University College London and the University of Bristol.

The study – Anxiety disorders predict fasting to control weight – published in the European Eating Disorders Review in December, looked at data from 2,406 teenage girls who took part in Bristol’s Children of the 90s study. This showed that the risk of regular fasting in girls with an anxiety disorder was twice that of girls who did not have an anxiety disorder.

“While we have known there is a link between anxiety disorders and anorexia nervosa for some time, these new findings support anxiety preceding the onset of severe restrictive eating,” said lead author Dr Caitlin Lloyd, senior research associate in public health at the Bristol Medical School.


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