28th April 2016

Children with mild attention problems at the age of five could be around three months behind than their peers academically by the time they reach the end of primary school, according to new research by Durham University and the University of Nottingham.

Lead author, Dr Christine Merrell, Director of Research at the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), Durham University, said: “Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD will already receive extra support in schools. However, children with milder attention problems are not always identified but are nevertheless at risk of falling behind their peers.”

As mild attention problems can go unnoticed, it is crucial for teachers and parents to work together to identify and help children affected by such problems to manage their learning in class. The Durham researchers have produced guidance for schools on teaching and classroom management strategies which have shown to help children with attention problems as well as all children in class.

The study, one of the largest to date in this area, analysed the attainment and behaviour of 46,369 children from 1,812 primary schools in England. It also looked at the impact of hyperactivity and impulsivity – two of the other symptoms of ADHD – on children’s academic results. Hyperactivity in children did not negatively or positively influence attainment but impulsivity showed as having a small positive impact on academic progress.

The research team is continuing to track this cohort of children and will analyse their academic attainment in their GCSEs in due course.

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