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Reports and briefings

The Educated Brain at School: Late Childhood and Adolescence

A Policy Brief relating to the ESRC Seminar Series, The Educated Brain


This Policy Brief relates to the second seminar in a series of three around the theme of ‘The Educated Brain’, where education, psychology and neuroscience researchers come together to better understand how we learn, and how we can promote learning across the lifespan through policy and practice. The series is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The report summarises each of the academic presentations, focusing on how they are relevant to policy and practice in relation to school years education. Presentations covered: inequalities in educational outcomes, researching the adolescent brain, the role of rhythm in cognitive development, transition to secondary school and bilingualism. The keynote lecture delivered by Professor Charles Nelson reported on a body of work investigating the impact of early neglect on children and institutional care.

The seminar also included roundtable discussions with researchers and practitioners to discuss the implications of the morning’s talks. A summary of action points and next steps on how to build better links between researchers, policy makers and practitioners is provided in the report.


The date of the third and final research seminar in The Educated Brain series, will be announced shortly. 

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What is the value of languages in the UK?

CPP report


The role and contribution of language to the UK economy and society is both rich and varied. It stretches from enabling economic growth and prosperity through the language and communication skills required to enable UK business to participate in the global market place; to the ‘soft power’ and diplomatic skills through which the UK’s role and authority in foreign policy is manifested; to enhancing the cultural capital, educational attainment and social cohesion within England and the devolved communities of the UK both now and in the future.

A new report by Cambridge Public Policy draws on discussions held at a workshop in Cambridge in October 2015 to discuss strategic issues in which languages play a part: national security, diplomacy and conflict resolution, community and social cohesion, migration and identity.

Representatives from government departments and bodies included: Ministry of Defence, UK Trade and Investment, Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure Northern Ireland, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ofsted.

Where we are now

  • Language contributes to UK prosperity: languages are a ‘value-added’ skill
  • Language learning forms part of ‘cultural agility’ from knowing other languages and cultures
  • Languages provide value-added skills across a range of occupations
  • There is increasing understanding of the personal and societal benefits of bilingualism
  • Recognized importance of ‘soft power’ and language skills in conflict areas

 Key concerns 

  • Business lost to UK companies through lack of language skills
  • Gaps in detecting incidence and spread of disease outbreaks and other health and security threats
  • Loss of language departments and degree courses in UK higher education
  • Lack of native English speakers in translating and interpreting departments of EU and UN
  • Inadequate language services in courts and healthcare.



Improving support for pupils with English as an additional language

EAL report


A new report on UK school pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL) argues that their progression in English language proficiency, academic achievement and social integration is closely linked and that a strong professional knowledge base is needed in schools to support the pupils. The authors also argue that parents are an ‘untapped resource’ for support and social integration. The report makes a series of policy recommendations.

The report identifies opportunities to target outreach to parents of EAL pupils, and develop frameworks and qualifications for English language support specialists to enable better assessment of language proficiency among pupils.
The researchers, from the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, were commissioned by the Bell Foundation to conduct a two-year longitudinal study of secondary schools in the East of England between 2013 and 2015. 




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Global approaches to multilingualism and standardisation

Apr 16, 2018

Murray Edwards College

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