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PYP early years education promotes school readiness

In a study conducted by researchers at Deakin University, the learning processes and outcomes at four Early Years PYP schools were evaluated. The researchers examined student literacy rates and school readiness skills at two schools in Australia and two schools in Singapore.  Qualitative data was collected to evaluate the perspectives of teachers, students, and parents. Overall, the study found that students in the PYP at all four schools demonstrated the appropriate level of literacy skills, and these students showed higher rates of school readiness than their peers not enrolled in the PYP.

School characteristics


International School of Hilversum

Of the two schools in Australia (A1, A2) and the two in Singapore (S1, S2), three of the schools (A1, A2, S1) offered programmes consistent with the learning profile, such as incorporating inquiry-led learning and a play-based approached. The fourth school (S2) had just recently moved to the PYP, and appeared to still be adjusting to the demands of the played-based and inquiry-led educational approach.

The three schools (A1, A2, S1) also exhibited an emphasis on relationships, with attributes such as showing care and respect and using collaborative skills. Furthermore, the learning environments  shared commonalities such as encouraging artistic expression, allowing children to have a sense of ownership, emphasizing a play-based curriculum, and incorporating both indoor and outdoor space for learning.

Literacy and school readiness

The research team utilized the Early Literacy in English Tools (ELET) and the Who am I? assessment tool [1]  to measure the literacy and school readiness skills of the students at the four schools, and compared these rates across the four sites and also at the national level.  At each of the four schools, the students’ literacy skills were fairly developed, with scores either at or above what would be expected. As for school readiness levels, all four schools scored at or above the anticipated level of development.

Teacher, student, and parent perspectives

The teachers at the four sites all valued inquiry-based learning techniques, and felt they were supporting the learning profile. Children at the Singapore schools were asked what they enjoyed most about the PYP, the answers between the two schools varied. Children at school S1 really enjoyed the learning activities embedded in the program while students at S2 commented most positively about play.

Overall, parents were pleased with the PYP programme,  felt that it was preparing their children for school, and appreciated the individualized approach.  Some parents were concerned about how a play-based approach would help students develop literacy and numeracy skills, but the quantitative data suggests that these students are well prepared in those areas.

Conclusion and recommendations

The researchers concluded that students in the PYP at all four schools demonstrated the appropriate level of literacy skills, and for school readiness skills, PYP students scored higher in this area than their non-PYP peers.

Based on these conclusions, the researchers offer suggestions for improving the PYP.  First on the list of recommendations was to ensure that staff members are adequately trained in the PYP and receive professional development. Additionally, the the researchers suggest minimizing avoidable reporting requirements relating to the PYP and local regulations, and increasing coordination with early childhood professionals.

For more information, please see the research summary or full report.

[1] de Lemos, M and Doig, B. 1999. Who Am I?: Developmental Assessment. Melbourne, Australia. Australian Council for Educational Research.

Contributing author Kari Lorentson is writing about the experience of IB graduates at universities around the world. Lorentson studies at American University and previously attended Fishers High School. Contact her at [email protected].