EEF and Wellcome Trust collaborate on neuroscience and education

The Education Endowment Foundation and Wellcome Trust are working together to build research expertise and knowledge at the interface between neuroscience and education.

The potential for neuroscience research to influence education is well recognised and both neuroscientists and teachers are excited by the prospect. Despite this enthusiasm neuroscience has not had a significant positive impact on learning and some “neuromyths” have gained in popularity within education. It is hoped that our current work will be of use to teachers and neuroscientists, presenting the evidence about different approaches that teachers could take and highlighting areas of future potential.

The work we are currently undertaking includes a literature review, examining the impact of educational interventions that are, or claim to be, based on neuroscience; a review of neuroscience research to identify areas that have the potential to be useful within education; and a survey of teachers, parents and students to find out what activities are already happening in schools and homes that are believed to be based on neuroscience.

Results from this work will be published in autumn 2013.

EEF Chief Executive Kevan Collins said:

“Neuroscience is an exciting and fast-moving field, but to date it has not had a significant impact on pupils’ learning. It’s crucial that we build the research expertise and knowledge in this area, to increase our understanding of how the brain can or does affect classroom practice. I am delighted that we are partnering with The Wellcome Trust to ensure we can offer schools the best possible guidance to make their own choices to help increase the attainment of pupils, especially those from low-income backgrounds.”

The Wellcome Trust’s Head of Education and Learning, Hillary Leevers said:

"We are very happy to be working on this important area with the Education Endowment Foundation. To enable neuroscience to have a positive impact on education a collaborative approach is needed, supporting teachers to distinguish neuro-fact from neuro-myth and supporting neuroscientists to explore whether their findings can benefit learning. The work we have undertaken aims to look at the issue from these different perspectives and we hope that this collaboration is the first of many within the area of neuroscience and education."