Explaining the science of learning to teachers

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Date published 01 November 2019

Harry Fletcher-Wood introduces The Learning Curriculum 2.0 – a revised version of his guide for teacher educators on how to teach teachers the science of learning.

Professionals have specialist knowledge. Pilots must understand the physics and mechanics of flight; doctors must know the biology and chemistry of the body; teachers must know how students learn.

Those who teach these professionals must have similar – deeper – knowledge and must also be able to make it comprehensible and useful to the professionals they support.

Two years ago, the pilot cohort of our Teacher Education Fellows programme faced a problem. They found clear explanations of student learning – from Deans for Impact and from my colleague Peps McCrea – but they lacked equivalent guidance about how to teach teachers these principles.

They asked:

  • How we should sequence learning about these principles?
  • How we could evidence and illustrate these principles accessibly yet defensibly?
  • How we could check teachers’ understanding?

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Together, we codified our experiences and ideas into The Learning Curriculum: a guide for teacher educators teaching teachers the science of learning. Rob Coe called it “really useful”, Dylan Wiliam described it as “very important” and teacher educators told us they found it invaluable in planning professional learning within schools.

Yet it was a first draft, and we knew we would want to revise it. We can now share the revised version, which reflects the continued experimentation of the Pilot Cohort of Teacher Educator Fellows, the insights and suggestions of Fellows in Cohort 1, and expert advice from Oliver Caviglioli, Efrat Furst, Peps McCrea, Nick Rose and Amber Walraven.

Download The Learning Curriculum 2.0 >

Our aim is unchanged: to provide teacher educators with the guidance and resources they need to teach teachers the science of learning.

We structure Version 2.0 around five principles of learning:

  1. How can teachers help students to attend to learning?
  2. How can teachers help students focus on what matters?
  3. How can teachers help students encode information in long-term memory?
  4. How can teachers find out what students already know?
  5. How can teachers help students to remember what they learn?

The document clarifies and exemplifies each principle, and offers questions to check teachers’ understanding. Additionally, we’ve sought to make this version more useful and usable by including:

  • Practical demonstrations illustrating the principles
  • Refined assessment questions
  • A glossary of key terms
  • Exemplar professional development session plans


Many colleagues and friends shared wisdom and advice which improved this version; in particular, we thank Oliver Caviglioli, who drew characteristically elegant diagrams to convey the key ideas, and Efrat Furst, who generously shared examples of her own practice and helped us clarify our thinking and explanations throughout the document. All errors remain our own.

We hope you find the second edition more useful than the first; we look forward to making the third edition even better, with your help.

Download The Learning Curriculum 2.0 >

Find out more about our Teacher Education Fellows >

See the full list of Ambition Institute programmes to find out more, or fill out our quick enquiry form and we will be in touch.

Harry Fletcher-Wood
Harry Fletcher-Wood
Associate Dean of Learning Design, Ambition Institute

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