Minster commits to research ‘movement for learning’ programme offered by Innovative Clare teachers

PRESS RELEASE: July 3rd, 2018

Today (Tuesday) in Seanad Éireann the Minister for Education & Skills stated that the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) would review the benefits to child learning of a whole class ‘movement’ programme designed for primary school children. Debated by Senator Martin Conway (FG), the proposed neuro-motor movement programme for learning readiness in young children was presented to the Department of Education by two progressive Clare-based teachers, Ms. Aoife Caulfield and Ms. Judy Breen.

‘The learning readiness programme was originally developed by Ms. Sally Goddard Blythe (INPP: Institute of Neurological Physiological Psychology) in Chester (UK). These enlightened Clare-based teachers and licensed clinicians, Aoife & Judy, studied under the tutelage of Ms. Blythe’, said Senator Conway.

The developer, Sally Goddard Blythe (INPP) states “Readiness for school requires much more than a child simply reaching chronological age for school entry” (2018). ‘The presence or absence of certain primitive reflexes and postural reactions at certain key stages in a child’s development provides signposts of maturity in the functioning of the central nervous system. These reflexes and/or postural reactions can be associated with a variety of neuro-developmental problems and specific learning difficulties’.
Speaking about the learning readiness programme, local teacher and clinician, Ms. Judy Breen said ‘Gaps in early motor development may hinder children cognitively, socially and/ or emotionally. This unique movement programme develops motor skills which are crucial for the foundations of literacy and numeracy. Working on a specific set of motor skills is the ‘bottom brick’ to make learning easier for our children.

Co-Founder of Ennis Neuro-Developmental Therapies, Ms. Aoife Caulfield continued : ‘We are very excited about the breakthroughs we are seeing in the children that are attending our clinic in Ennis. Motor Developmental milestones are absolutely essential for children to pay attention, to concentrate, to sit still, to read and to write. There is a strong body of evidence correlating under-developed physical skills to lower educational achievement. In short, poor balance and lack of co-ordination make it difficult to learn with ease.

Many teachers have acknowledged the increasing numbers of children presenting with fundamental deficits in basic motor skills. Typical signs indicative of immaturity in the Central Nervous System include reading difficulties, poor pencil grip, homework frustration, emotional outbursts and social challenges. This is what the movement programme works to correct. It is a revelation to know that motor skills lay the foundation for higher order thinking and can have a positive impact on school performance. Parents are relieved to see the difference the programme can make in their children’s lives, sometimes after many years of struggle’.
In the motion Senator Conway proposed that the neuro-motor movement programme would be incorporated into all Irish Primary schools as part of in-service teacher education for primary teachers.

‘It is timely that this ‘learning readiness’ movement programme be incorporated into our schools. We are delighted that the Minister and the Department of Education has referred the programme to the National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS) to review its benefits for child learning, in the short-term. We expect that the Department of Education will see the benefits of this programme for all primary children’.

The INPP programme is already being used successfully in some schools in Ireland and training is being provided on a private basis by Ms. Aoife Caulfield and Judy Breen via the Education Centres’ network nationally. ‘It is good that we can provide it privately but we are passionate about making this movement programme available for all children. For this to happen the Department of Education needs to roll it out nationwide’.

For further information on this programme please contact Aoife or Judy at 087 792 1326 or contact Ennis Neuro Developmental Therapies.