A new initiative is being launched by the Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation to improve the use of neuroscience to aid teaching and learning methods.
Education and Neuroscience is a £6 million fund which has been set up to encourage an evidence-based approach to improving teaching practice.
The initiative will bring together scientists and educators to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions based on neuroscience.
An online survey conducted by the trust found that many of those in education jobs rely on the idea that children have different learning styles - that some learn 'visually', for example, and it is therefore better to encourage learning using visual material. Yet this approach may actually be detrimental to learning.
It also found that commercially-developed interventions such as Brain Gym are used by some teachers even though these products have not undergone systematic testing.
"Neuroscience is an exciting field that holds a great deal of promise both for understanding how our brains work and, through application, for improving how we learn and perform," said Dr Hilary Leevers, head of education and learning at the Wellcome Trust. "Neuroscientists and educators both recognise and wish to explore this potential. By bringing together our expertise and approaches, the Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation hope to make this possible."
Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Education Endowment Foundation and the Sutton Trust, said the research would enable people to distinguish between interventions which are beneficial and those that sound plausible but are actually ineffective. He said the research is necessary to improve the attainment of pupils from lower-income backgrounds.
The Education Endowment Foundation was established to break the connection between educational achievement and family income. It aims to identify innovations that improve the prospects of disadvantaged children and encourage the adoption of these methods by schools, government and charities.
Funding which is being made available for research projects may be spent on projects such as testing the effect of different class length times or gauging the effect of listening to music during lessons.
Posted by Theo Foulds