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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Christine Merrell

Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2006). The impact of screening and advice on inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive children. European Journal of Special Needs Education 21(3): 321-337.

Author(s) from Durham


Severely inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive children fall behind their peers and can be difficult for teachers. What impact do screening and/or advice have? Interventions were randomly assigned to 2040 schools and 24 local education authorities in England. School‐level interventions involved naming pupils with ADHD‐like behaviour, or providing evidence‐based advice for teachers about how to teach pupils with ADHD‐like behaviour, or both. The LEA interventions involved providing evidence‐based advice on how to teach children with ADHD‐like behaviour to key personnel. One treatment group received this advice with a supporting conference, the second received advice only. Pupils' reading and mathematics were assessed at the start and end of their first year at school and again at age 6-7 years. Their behaviour was assessed at the end of the first year and once again at age 6-7 years. The interventions were implemented during the second year of schooling. There was no impact from LEA‐level interventions. For school‐level interventions, advice had a significant positive effect on the attitudes and behaviour of pupils with ADHD characteristics but not on their attainment levels. It also had a positive impact on teachers' quality of life. Identifying children in the absence of advice had no impact. A combination of identification and advice had a positive impact on reading across the full sample, but a negative impact on the progress of pupils with ADHD characteristics. It is concluded that this research did not support a screening programme for ADHD in which the results are fed back to schools. On the other hand, the advice to teachers had a small impact, and it was very cheap. It was calculated that providing schools with research‐based advice on how to work with inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive pupils in the first two years of schooling is cost‐effective and could be beneficially used on a wide scale.