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Sex differences and variability in phonological sensitivity among primary school children

Victor Martinelli

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Sex differences in phonological sensitivity and awareness were assessed using well-established linguistic measures in translation in a two-year longitudinal study on a sample of 136 children during their first two years at school. Girls obtained significantly higher means on a number of measures of phonological sensitivity but not on tests of ability (Coloured Progressive Matrices) (Cohen’s d with Hedges adjustment for sample size = .18). The results suggest that girls possess superior phonological skills on entry to school at age 5 years, are better able to utilise their literacy learning experiences to bring them to bear on phonological awareness tasks, and have a lower variance ratio than boys do. There is some support in this study for the notion that girls have somewhat better developed phonological loop memory skills than boys do.

Educational community stakeholders’ perspectives about teachers’ responsibilities for mental health promotion in Maltese schools

Helen Askell-Williams, Carmel Cefai, Grace Skrzypiec, Mirella Wyra

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The role of school teachers in promoting students’ mental health is receiving increasing international attention. However, before venturing into schools with new initiatives such as mental health promotion, it is essential to take into account local contextual affordances and constraints. One issue is whether teachers and other school community stakeholders believe that activities related to mental health promotion are within teachers’ realms of responsibility and capabilities. This paper reports findings from two questionnaire-based studies in Malta. The first questionnaire, about teachers’ responsibilities in areas related to developing students’ positive mental health, was delivered to community stakeholders attending three public lectures. The second questionnaire asked teaching staff in seven schools about their knowledge and capabilities for teaching to promote positive mental health. Results from the two studies indicate a foundation of support for whole school approaches to mental health promotion. Teachers’ responses from the second study indicate that many teachers do not feel strongly efficacious and knowledgeable about their roles in mental health promotion. Implications for teacher professional learning are discussed.

Career decision-making skills of primary education students in Greece: planning of career guidance activities throughout the curriculum

Despina Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Katerina Argyropoulou, Nikos Drosos

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The purpose of this study was to construct a theoretically driven and psychometrically sound career decision making skills questionnaire to measure the dimensions that contribute to career decision-making of 6th grade primary education students. Principal components analyses indicated the presence of three empirically derived components that contribute to career decision making of primary education students and call for demands to develop educational activities throughout the curriculum. These career guidance activities have three main goals: (a) investigation of the world of work in relation with students’ self awareness, (b) development of simple strategies of decision making and problem solving, (c) awareness of the relationships among variables such as personal characteristics, school attendance, and life preparation. These activities can be used in school settings and have a strong effect on students’ understanding of how choices and planning affect their future.

Prefabrication, aesthetics and the welfare state: the case for the post-war British public school

Lino Bianco

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The post Second World War welfare state in Britain was based on three pillars: housing, health and education. This paper focuses on education and critically reviews the post-war school building programme in Britain during the first decade following a publication by the Royal Institute of British Architects entitled New Schools, a milestone in school design in the British Isles. Introducing prefabrication in the design of public schools was the way forward to cater for the significantly large number of school spaces required within a short timeframe. As an effective solution to meet the government’s programme, a new aesthetic emerged associated with this mode of construction. These themes are investigated in this study, successes and limitations are identified, criticism levied and final comments put forth. Post-war public schools are a further development of the typology of educational buildings in Britain, a typology which although already present in Northern Europe, left its mark on British architectural history of the twentieth century. This development is an evolution resulting from an awareness of the revolution which industrialization had brought about on war machine production coupled with the emerging political ethic.

Why do students opt not to sit for SEC examinations at the end of their compulsory education?

Maria Ali, Josette Farrugia, Gender Issues Committee of the University of Malta

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In Malta, the number of female students registering for Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examinations at the end of their compulsory schooling consistently outnumbers that of male students, a higher percentage of female students register for Matriculation Certificate Examinations and acquire the Matriculation Certificate and more female students than male students start University courses and eventually graduate per academic year. Statistics available show relatively low numbers of students, especially male students engaging in further education and this led the Gender Issues Committee of the University of Malta to ask: why do some students opt not to participate in further education but to drop out of the system at the earliest opportunity? This prompted the Gender Issues Committee to embark on research attempting to answer this question. The study carried out with school guidance teachers and students who opted not to sit for any SEC examinations also sought to determine whether there were any differences between reasons given by boys and those given by girls among other things. The results show that students who do not sit for any SEC examinations come mainly from Area Secondary Schools and the main reasons given were that the examinations are too difficult for them; that they do not like school; that they wished to stop studying; and that these students wanted seek employment. The dire necessity for higher levels of certification and the need for vocational courses at compulsory school level were among the conclusions reached through this study.

The creation of learning networks in two Spanish Public high schools

Cinta Espuny Vidal, Juan González, Luis Marqués Molías, Merce Gisbert Cervera

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This paper tries to analyse learning networks in the context of non-compulsory secondary education in the Spanish public schools, within their process of moving towards more innovative models based on progressively greater use of active learning methodologies as well as on greater and better use of ICTs. Our goal was to determine, using the SCCI (Rovai 2002), the degree of consolidation of the learning networks formed by students in the first year of non-compulsory secondary education at two quite different public high schools: one large school in an urban area (Institut Joaquín Bau in Tortosa, Tarragona, Spain) and one small school in a rural setting (Institut Els Ports in Morella, Castellón, Spain), and all for determining how important the kind of school and school environment can be when creating learning networks.