Research round-up: November 2019

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

SecEd's research round-up for November 2019 includes studies into the impact that guest speakers can have in schools and for careers education, the impact of exercise on pupil performance, and the impact that body image anxiety is having on young girls.

Guest speakers

Outside speakers who visit secondary schools to share their expertise and talk about their lives and careers make a big difference to pupils.

Research published by two charities – Education and Employers and Speakers for Schools – found that the majority of young people are positive about the benefits of guest speakers. Youngsters said outside speakers are motivating, help their understanding of careers and encourage self-belief. Nearly 90 per cent said the talks enable them to overcome setbacks.

Attitudes and motivation improved most for pupils who had been to more talks and for students on free school meals.
Teachers saw the benefits of outside speakers too. Ninety-three per cent said that they broaden pupils’ aspirations about potential jobs, 87 per cent said they tackle stereotyping about jobs and careers, and 80 per cent reckon they motivate pupils to study harder.

“I have seen first-hand the positive impact visiting speakers can have on young people,” said Education and Employers CEO Nick Chambers. “It helps excite them about the subjects they are studying, broadens their horizons, raises their aspirations and shows them the range of jobs and career routes open to them.”


Body image

One in six girls in the UK has missed school or work in the last year due to worries about their appearance, a study by global children’s charity Plan International UK has revealed.

The poll of more than 1,000 14 to 21-year-old girls and young women found 89 per cent felt pressure to fit an “ideal” face or body type, while a quarter felt “ashamed or disgusted” by their body.

“Girls and young women experience huge pressure on their body image in every area of life, from the images they see in the media to hurtful comments at school,” said Rose Caldwell, CEO of Plan International UK.

“These statistics show this is having a frightening impact on their futures, affecting their ability to take advantage of opportunities and in some cases preventing them from their basic rights to access education and earn a living.”


Star jumps in lessons?

Pupils who run on the spot or do star jumps in lessons do better than peers who stick to sedentary learning, research has found.
An analysis of 42 studies from around the world, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, concluded that incorporating physical activity into academic classes has a significant effect on educational outcomes during the lesson as well as increasing students’ overall levels of physical exercise.

Typical activities include jumping on the spot a certain number of times to answer a maths question or using movement to signal whether a fact is true or false.

“Physical activity is good for children’s health and the biggest contributor of sedentary time in children’s lives is the seven or eight hours a day they spend in classrooms,” said lead author Dr Emma Norris of UCL. “Our study shows that physically active lessons are a useful addition to the curriculum.”



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