Neuroscience course to fill 'gap' in teacher training

Pilot course in educational neuroscience for qualified teachers will look at how children’s brains develop

Amy Gibbons

How do pupils brains work? A new course is being launched to help teachers apply neuroscience in the classroom

A headteacher is piloting a new course in educational neuroscience, designed to fill a perceived "gap" in conventional teacher training.

The Neuroscience for Teachers course, which will recruit up to 30 qualified teachers from state and independent secondary schools, will focus on how children’s brains develop throughout the teenage years.

Julia Harrington, head of Queen Anne’s School in Caversham, Berkshire, has commissioned Professor Patricia Riddell, a neuroscience specialist at the University of Reading, to design the course, which will be piloted in 2020-21.

Neuroscientist: What teachers need to know about the teenage brain

Watch: How teenagers' brains work

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The free course will involve six interactive days of workshops across the next academic year, on topics including motivation and engagement; learning and technology; memory; decision-making and leadership; mental health and wellbeing; and action research project planning.

Neuroscience in the classroom

There has been rising interest in recent years in the way neuroscience can be applied in the classroom.

However, some academics doubt that meaningful links can be drawn between neuroscience and education.

Ms Harrington said the application of educational neuroscience and cognitive psychology at her own school had led to improved emotional wellbeing and academic performance.

She added: "I believe that learning to become a teacher is incomplete without some understanding of what’s happening in the teenage brain.

"So I asked Professor Patricia Riddell to design a completely new course to fill that gap in conventional teacher training."

Teachers wishing to take part must have between three and five years’ experience, and will also need the support of their school head.

They will be recruited over the spring and summer of 2020 to take part in the pilot, which will start in September 2020 and finish in June 2021.

The course will be free to participants as training costs will be covered by Ms Harrington's research centre BrainCanDo.

Professor Riddell said: "I am very excited to be given this opportunity by Julia and BrainCanDo to bring my expertise to the educational sector.

"There is so much that we now know about how children’s brains develop that can help teachers, both by designing teaching and learning which works with our brains and increasing motivation in children to learn."

Ms Harrington added: "We used to think that the brain stopped developing at age 11 but we now know that it continues to adapt well into adolescence.

"It’s obvious to me that both classroom teaching and pastoral care need to reflect this aspect of children’s growth."

Headteachers interested in nominating a teacher to take part in the pilot should contact

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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