Class of 76 'cleverer' than kids of today

Clever teenagers of today are not as bright as kids in the class of 1976, according to researchers.

The intellect of even the brainiest 14-year-olds has deteriorated dramatically over the decades despite an increase in the number of pupils achieving top grades in exams.

Their cognitive abilities are level with those of 12-year-olds in 1976, the study found.

The tests - designed to assess grasp of abstract scientific concepts such as volume, density, quantity and weight - found far fewer youngsters hit top scores than in 1976.

Professor Michael Shayer, who led the study, said the brainpower slump may be down to over-testing in schools.

He said: "The moment you introduce targets, people will find the most economical strategies to achieve them.

In previous research, Professor Shayer concluded that the cognitive abilities of 11-year-olds were up to three years behind where they were in 1975.