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Academics call for neuroscience to be included in training

Teachers should be taught how children's brains develop as part of their training before they enter the classroom, according to a report by the Royal Society.

The growing area of neuroscience should play a "much greater" role in influencing education policy, says research from the eminent fellowship of scientists.

Academics say all teachers should learn how the brain works now that scientists have discovered the processes involved in becoming literate and numerate.

The report's authors, who include neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists, believe "the impacts of this emerging discipline could be highly beneficial in schools and beyond".

Neuroscience is not included in many teacher training courses. But the report, The Brain Waves Module 2, says it could "support and enhance" teachers' work.

The academics also recommend that teachers of children with special educational needs should learn about "the neurobiological basis" of learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and ADHD.

Professor Uta Frith, chair of the working group that produced the report, said: "Education is concerned with enhancing learning and neuroscience is concerned with understanding the mechanisms of learning. It seems only logical that the one should inform the other.

"Every day we are discovering more and more about how the brain works, and if this information can help us to learn more effectively or hone the skills of the workforce then we should be using it."

Professor Frith said that structures need to be put in place for developments in neuroscience to be applied to schools.

Some heads are already applying neuroscience in their schools. Paul Kelley, head of Monkseaton High in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, has a lead teacher for neuroscience. The school has experimented with later start times for pupils and "spaced learning".

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