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Research Summary

The effects of the primary movement programme on the academic performance of children attending ordinary primary school
Jordan-Black J-A Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 2005; 5(3): 101-111


The present study investigated the prevalence of a primary reflex (the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex) in children attending ordinary primary school and how this related to attainments in a number of academic areas. The effectiveness of a specific movement intervention programme in reducing primary reflex persistence and improving academic attainment was also evaluated.


A comparitive study of the progress of 683 children over a two-year period from Years 3 and 5, who completed an intervention programme know as Primary Movement, was carried out using the relative attainments of children at the same schools and standardised scores as baseline and follow-up measures. A second, quasi-experimental study followed the progress of four parallel groups in each of two large schools with the experimental side completing the movement intervention programme while the other side acted as the control.


It was found that ATNR persistence was significantly associated with level of attainments in reading, spelling and mathematics and that boys were more at risk than girls for ATNR persistence. In both studies, it was found that the movement intervention programme had a very significant impact on reducing the levels of ATNR persistence in children and that this was associated with very significant improvements in reading and mathematics, in particular.


This research provides further evidence of a link between the attainments of core educational skills and the interference that may result from an underlying developmental deficit. The effectivenesss of the intervention programme in reducing ATNR persistence and in increasing academic attainments sugests that this programme could be used to complement other strategies that have been shown to have a positive effect on children's learning.