Funding award for whole-class gaming

We’re delighted to have won new funding for an innovative new project, investigating whether the uncertainty inherent in games can increase the rate at which children learn science. This will get underway in the South West thanks to a £650K funding boost. It’s one of six new projects funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to investigate a variety of ways neuroscience might improve teaching and learning in the UK. Paul Howard-Jones will be leading the project

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Congratulations to (Reader) Dr Tim Jay and all the best for Sheffield!

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Many thanks to Tim Jay, Jo Rose and Ben Simmons for a great seminar on The Everyday Maths Project yesterday – and thanks everyone for coming along. M-besc wishes Dr Tim Jay all the best for his new job (as Reader) at Sheffield University – and we’re also looking forward to carrying on working together on many projects across the internet!

Everyday Maths Project: Preliminary Findings today

29 September, 5pm – 6:30pm in room 4.10.

Dr Tim Jay, Dr Jo Rose and Dr Ben Simmons will be presenting a seminar on the content and preliminary findings of the Everyday Maths project “It’s helping your child experience the world”: How parents can use everyday activities to engage their children’s mathematical learning” on 29 September, 5pm – 6:30pm in room 4.10.

MBESC Researcher Awarded British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship

MBESC researcher Dr Ben Simmons was recently awarded a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship by the British Academy to explore the nature of social engagement for children with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). During the fellowship Ben will investigate how different educational environments (special and mainstream, from nursery to post-16) afford alternative opportunities for children with PMLD to engage in social interaction. The research will also address how such social interactions support emerging “sociability”, understood in terms of agency (intentional action), intersubjectivity (awareness of the subjectivity of others), and symbolic communication (deliberate exchange of information). The research will significantly extend Ben’s ESRC-funded doctoral work (University of Exeter 2010).

To keep up to date with Ben’s work you can follow him on Twitter, on or visit his University of Bristol homepage.

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MBESC Researcher Publishes New Book

A new book written by MBESC researcher Dr Ben Simmons and Dr Debbie Watson (School for Policy Studies) has just been published. The book, entitled “The PMLD Ambiguity”, explores novel theoretical, methodological and empirical terrain in order to develop new insights into the lived experiences and agency of children with PMLD. The book is based on Ben’s MSc and PhD work undertaken at the University of Exeter (2005-2010) and was published by Karnac (London).

To learn more about the book you can read the preface by clicking here.

To view Ben’s MBESC presentation slides please click here.

The PMLD Ambiguity (Cover)

The PMLD Ambiguity (Cover)


Genetics in Education – Kathryn Asbury and Nic Timpson

We had a fascinating debate about genetics and education last month when Kathryn (co-author of “G is for Genes”) and Nic Timpson (Reader in Genetic Epidemiology at Bristol) came to visit us. I asked Kathryn in the tea-break whether genetics had implications for education and what these might be:

I also managed to corner Nic with my camera and asked him whether there was such a thing as “genes for education”. Note that he’s talking about population studies here:

Some messages I took away were:

1. It’s a good time to start discussing genetic perspectives in relation to education.  We can benefit from understanding what we know and don’t know, and from trying to anticipate how genetics may impact on education in the future.

2. Genetics doesn’t currently help us diagnose or categorise/label children in terms of learning disorders, and isn’t likely to in the future. It supports the idea that we are all on a continuum.

3. It can help us understand the contribution of shared and non-shared environments in explaining the differences between children.

4. Preschool children appear particularly susceptible to their shared environment but, interestingly, significant shared environments are now emerging at Key Stage 4.

5. Although overall heritable effects are high, effects of individual candidate genes are very low. This makes headlines of a “gene for intelligence”, “gene for maths” etc rather misleading.

Interesting stuff……