Cambridge University Breakthrough -


       Cambridge University of the Brain work is sponsored by the health service. It researches children who have learning difficulties. Sue Garthacole who has recently stepped down from being head of the unit. 

      Garthcole also explains how white matter connects to the hubs of the brain where the efficiency and speed of the white matter dictate learners capabilities. She describes it as being like the flight paths arising from an airport like Heathrow. She has recently asserted that working memory cannot be improved through training.

      Working memory is the outcome of the brains activities. It is not an organ. It arises through hubs working together. It could be viewed as being like fast broadband. The shorter the white matter links in the brain are, the more efficiently will be processed.

      This research appears to prove that is beyond reasonable doubt that we cannot view children’s learning potential is no open-ended, which has been extensively argued on this website.

       Michael Thomas who reviews Professor Robert Plomin's research into genetic it the profile of populations of learners is deterministic. He argues that Pisa illustrates that the bell shaped distribution curve of children exist across the world. Some countries have higher points than other.

       Michael argues that effect that schools can have on children's attainment is not more than outside figure of 20%. It is likely to be much less. 

This means that learning success at any given level will be more difficult for certain children to achieve than others. It complements what has been known about education including the work of Plomin, geneticist.

    Sue Garthcole refers to a report that illustrated that Report on the performance of children of 13 to 19 years of age into basic skill attainment from 1949 to its publication in 2010 found that there was no change for the last 30 years. The evidence is that all the work that when on the primary numeracy and literacy hours failed to improved children’ s standards of attainment significantly. This raises the issue of the extent that standard can be improved.

        What is significant the Astle’s research that it refers to 35% of children through the world experiencing learning difficulties. This means there cannot be any evidence to suggest that in high raking P.I.S.A. that all children are achieving an equally high standard of attainment, especially in subjects like maths, which are highly depended on working memory capacity. The problem that all too often occurs in subjects like maths is low attaining children lose confidence and become demoralised, so they work less.


       The research also illustrates that conditions like dyslexia and A.D.H.D. are simply genetic variations. There are no distinct areas of deficiencies. The differences now appear to attributable to neural wiring. Each child’s problems are distinct. When children are diagnosed with these conditions there are other children who have some degree of the problems.


   The research also illustrates that there are inherent risks in making radical educational reforms because lower-achieving children are weighing down school or country performance. Dylan Wiliam (2018) quotes Pasi Salsberg the Finish Educationalist attributes children’s attainment in Finland is that Finish is an easier language to learn, it is much more regular than the English language. It is only human nature as Plomin recognises if children find things difficult they are inclined to give up.

    The research findings have relevant to Welsh Medium education in Wales. The 35% figure will refer to native English speaking children who chose to learn through Welsh to be educated through it the medium of it. It is highly questionable whether it is in their best learning interests. The 35% will apply to Welsh-speaking children. There is the issue of whether it is their best interests to exclusively be educated through the medium of Welsh.


            It is only human nature that we look down on those who are lacking in intelligence and do silly things. This report appears to set in concrete that it far harder for certain children to reach any given level of attainment than others, especially in subjects like maths and second language learning that are highly dependent on working memory.

       While children with higher learning potential are praised for their attainment those who achieve more modest levels of attainment are viewed 'needing to work harder'. The problem with 'catch up' is that children are being able to 'catch up' with those who have faster learning potential than they have. It could be argued that they should 'catch down' to help them 'catch up'. 

       There are no simple answers to these problems. Teachers and children can become complacent about low achieving children can achieve.  Children are being constantly assessed and graded. For too many children it is emphasising what they cannot do.

    There is evidence from research as Paul Howard-Davies refers to that brain efficiency is related to intelligence and the higher order thinking skills.
Astle et al. Paper

Other Relevant Viceo Evidence  
with text Summaries

Sue Gathacole -Working Memory+

 Plomin - Genetics

Neil Thomas Neuroscience in Education