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Fact: The Wellcome Trust and Education Endowment Foundation has put forward £6 million towards researching how students’ brains process learning. 

The Foundation has expressed concerns that many of the interventions and practices used in schools are either non-research based, or based on questionable research. It has cited certain brain training programs as an example. These kinds of programs may work, but they are untested; the Foundation grant aims to remedy that.

Possible research topics include:

  • the effect of sleep on knowledge acquisition
  • playing music while learning
  • drinking lots of water
  • Saturday morning classes
  • timetabling issues
  • length of school day
  • computer-based interventions

Many of the literacy interventions used in schools around the world are actually untested, or have used non-scientific research trials, or even have research which has yielded ambivalent results.

By contrast, the Open University has just wrapped up a randomized control trial of the Easyread System, which tested regular use of the program with 100 children who were on average 2 years behind reading expectation. The Easyread Group reached a normal reading level for their age after doing around 120 lessons. Meanwhile the majority of the Control Group continued to fall behind, but later caught up in an equivalent time frame once they started Easyread.

Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for Morgan Learning, makers of the Easyread System. Easyread is a literacy intervention for children struggling with patterns of guessing in their reading and spelling. Find out more at