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Ipswich team helps launch mobile app amid fears children starting schools without key skills

PUBLISHED: 07:30 20 February 2020

Half of UK 10-year-olds have their own smartphone

Half of UK 10-year-olds have their own smartphone

Getty Images/iStockphoto

A new mobile app has been launched in Ipswich amid fears local children are starting school with poor literacy, numeracy and communication skills.

The new app, named Tig, has been jointly commissioned by the Ipswich Opportunity Area alongside the Behavioural Insights Team in a bid to tackle what they claim to be an issue not getting the attention it deserves.

Its development comes after government statistics revealed 31% of schoolchildren aged five to seven did not meet expected writing standards, while 25% and 24% did not meet standards for reading and maths respectively.

It is hoped the mobile app - targeted towards families with children aged zero to five - will help parents create a learning environment for their children at home, with lesson activities in the app including everyday tasks like preparing dinner, getting ready for bed and doing the laundry.

By completing the tasks with their child, developers aim to see parents create new games and activities and tasks with their children, while gaining an idea of what other parents are thinking and doing.

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Parents are also prompted to answer a question twice a week, such as "what is your favourite activity to do with your child?", which unlocks another activity for them to do with their child at home.

At the end of each day, parents can see aggregated results from all parents who answered the same question.

Also working on the app were professor Gaia Scerif a the University of Oxford and Dr Rebecca Merkley at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Fionnuala O'Reilly, Senior Advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team, said the app had been designed to be an enjoyable way for parents to interact with their children on a regular basis to develop important skills that would give them a good start when they begin formal education.

She added that the quality of the home learning environment in the early years was a key predictor of a child's future success at school and beyond.

This is not the first time local developers have come together to create a mobile app aimed at helping children, with the University of Suffolk and Orbital Media of Stowmarket teaming up to create the MySpira app to teach children with asthma how to use their inhalers.


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