All-Party Parliamentary Group on Scientific Research in Learning and Education
Co-chairs: Baroness Susan Greenfield, Baroness Estelle Morris, James Arbuthnot MP.
To find out more about the APPG, become more involved or make suggestions for future events, please contact Ruth Arnell, Ellie Dommett and Professor Clive Coen (the APPG co-ordination team) at:
The overarching goal of the APPG on Scientific Research in Learning and Education is:
‘To consider how to effectively incorporate the growing body of scientific knowledge on learning and development into evidence-informed education policy and practice. A crucial area is the role of information and communication technologies in influencing the way that young people, think, learn and behave’.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Scientific Research in Learning and Education was established in Autumn 2006 following a Lord’s debate. We are committed to providing a non-party political context in which to learn and debate about key concerns impacting on young people’s learning and education. We hold meetings at the House of Lords into the topical issues, inviting expert speakers to explain their views to us. The group attracts broad cross-party support and the meetings provide a unique opportunity for parliamentarians to meet with scientists, teachers, parents and charities.
The APPG on Scientific Research in Learning and Education is a formally registered group on the approved list of All-Party Parliamentary Groups. Meetings generally include presentations on a theme followed by a debate. Topics have included:
- The impact of technology on the brain
- ADHD (including the use of cognitive enhancing drugs)
- Well-being in the classroom
- Brain-science in the classroom
We try to identify themes where there are disjoins between evidence and policy, provide strategic direction for the group, build and maintain collaborations, organise seminars and lever on the outcomes of the meetings to shape policy. A significant achievement of the group has been in engaging a broad constituency of stakeholders throughout education policy, reform and practice. In doing so, the All-Party Group is providing a unique forum, worldwide, for educationalists, scientists, politicians and policy-makers to engage with issues around the 'science of learning' and develop joined-up policy initiatives. The APPG is already supporting and advising existing initiatives, and making recommendations, in ways that carry considerable weight, both scientifically and politically. Current collaborations include those with:
- government (DCSF Technology Futures Unit and Children and Families Directorate. Prime Minister's Strategy Unit)
- curriculum and assessment agencies (QCA, AQA)
- teacher training agencies(TDA)
- research and funding bodies (ESRC, TLRP)
- teacher and academic groups
- other related NGOs (Innovation Unit, CfBT)
ARCHVE OF PREVIOUS MEETINGS
'The School of the Future'- 24th November 2011
The meeting chaired by Baroness Greenfield and heard from four experts in the field of education, who considered how well scientific research into learning and education is being reflected in the classroom and what more can be achieved.
Mr Richard Churches, Principal Consultant for Learning and Teaching Consultancy at CfBT Education Trust. To see Mr Churches' presentation, click here.
Dr Paul Howard- Jones, Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. To see Dr Howard-Jones' presentation, click here.
Professor David Reynolds, Southampton University and Dr Paul Kelley, Monkseaton High School
Background material for Mr Richard Churches' talk:
Research report: Training in influencing skills from neuro-linguistic programming (modelled from hypnosis and family therapy), in combination with innovative more collaborative maths pedagogy, raises maths attainment in adult numeracy learners.
Background material for Professor David Reynolds and Dr Paul Kelley's talk: “Applying Scientific Research to create a school of the future: start times, methods of learning, technologies, and The Open University”
Spaced Learning, developed by Monkseaton High School, is a method of embedding information in to long-term memory very quickly.
Hamilton Project publication:Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, Brian A. Jacob and Jonah E. Rockoff. September 2011.
USA House Concurrent Resolution 176 111th Congress: Expressing the sense of the Congress that secondary schools should begin the school day no earlier than 9:00 in the morning. July 2009.
Professor Russell Foster’s overview of the current state of play on circadian rhythms published in The Guardian, 13 July 2011:Bring back the night - your health and wellbeing depend on it
School finds secret of exam success: Let teenagers have a lie-in. Article by Hannah Devlin published in The Times, 27 August 2011.
'Autism: Difference of Disorder’- Winter 2010
Autism is characterised by social and communication problems along with restrictive or repetitive behaviour and interests. It is thought to affect about 1% of the population and can be divided into high- and low-functioning Autism, which are marked by impaired language development and differentiated by IQ, and Asperger’s Syndrome in which language development and IQ are may be normal but social and communications problems persist.
Guest Speakers Professor Simon Baron-Cohen (Cambridge University) and Professor Patricia Howlin (Institute of Psychiatry, London) debated whether Autism should be regarded as a difference rather than a disorder and the implications for access to suport services. The meeting was chaired by Baroness Warnock and Baroness Greenfield.
Download 'Autism: Difference or Disorder' Transcript (pdf, 0.9 MB)
Science in Parliament Magazine
Article ‘Autism: Difference or Disorder - Implications for access to services’ [pdf]
‘Potential Impact of Technology’- Spring 2010
Media technology has become an indispensable element of life for people in the 21st Century, and children are not excluded. This seminar discussed the impact of media technology on the mind and brain by evaluating the scientific evidence we have to date. The effect of technology on children has brought both concerns and praises. However, in the midst of rapid technological advances, we know that whatever impact technology has on our children now, is what will shape society's future generations. Guest speakers: Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield, University of Oxford & Dr Vaughan Bell, University of Antioquia.
Download 'Potential Impact of Technology' Transcript (pdf, 2.4 MB)
Science in Parliament Magazine
Article ‘Debating the impact of technology on the brain’ [pdf]
The Times, Eureka magazine
Article ‘Is screen culture damaging our children’s brains?’ [pdf]
This seminar considered the efficacy of Ritalin for ADHD from a medical view and also discussed the ethics of chemical cognitive enhancement for the healthy from a philosophical viewpoint. Guest speakers: Professor Peter Hill, Great Ormond Street Hospital & Professor John Harris, University of Manchester.
Download 'ADHD: The Efficacy of Ritalin' Transcript (pdf, 1.5 MB)
'Dyslexia’ – Spring 2009
This seminar debated whether dyslexia is a diagnosable condition or term of convenience. It explored causes, treatments and the importance of diagnosis as well as whether the term ‘dyslexia’ is useful or even accurate. Guest speakers: Professor John Stein, University of Oxford & Professor Julian Elliott, Durham University.
Apologies but no transcript is available for this seminar.
'Well-being in the classroom' – Autumn 2007
This seminar considered how the growing scientific understandings of well-being can be used more effectively to support the well-being agenda in education. Current government programmes to improve child well-being (e.g. SEAL) were discussed and a number of emerging ideas and initiatives were presented.
The Institute for the Future of the Mind is currently working with the QCA to explore how they can develop a framework that incorporates the scope of ideas and initiatives that were raised at the seminar, and develop a more coherent overall approach.
'Brain-science in the Classroom' – Spring 2007
This series of seminars considered the scientific and educational rationale behind current practices in education that claim to be based on brain-science research. It also explored how we generate collaborative brain, mind and education research and provide widespread access to educationally relevant understandings. The seminar also saw the launch of the TLRP commentary, [['Neuroscience in the classroom: Issues and Opportunities']]. In the six months since the launch, over 110,000 copies of the report have been downloaded.
This seminar has lead to a consideration of how government presents current 'brain-based' products and policies that claim to be informed by neuroscience research (BrainGym, VAK learning styles etc). The seminar is also acting as a springboard for reshaping the research agenda between brain, mind and education. A cross-council funding initiative is currently being developed for a programme of collaborative, educational-neuroscience research.
Download 'Brain-science in the Classroom' Transcript (3.74 MB, pdf)
Download 'Neuroscience and Education' Commentary (external link, pdf)
'Inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group' – Autumn 2006
This meeting set out the overarching aims and strategies for the All-Party Parliamentary Group
Download Inaugural Meeting Transcript (1MB, pdf)