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this is for general information - so that everyone knows what is coming... we are currently at Tranche 1, Stage 1

In high level elite sport, every tiny detail is optimised - consider cycling, or skiing. Together these details offer an aggregation of marginal gains to ensure that everyone performs and achieves to their greatest potential.

Yet when it comes to learning, and perhaps especially high stakes testing - which hundreds of millions of children worldwide attempt each year - we are a very long way from vouchsaving their greatest potential performance. We know much more now about the science of learning spaces (see for example) and about revision strategies, deep learning, longer term memories, but it is impossible to imagine an Olympic athlete attempting to excel in their event's final, but not knowing what to eat for breakfast, for dinner the night before, or indeed over the preceeding 4 years!

So we are trying to offer progress in food for learners. Please note, this is complex, learning and exams are not the same, wellbeing and health may also be different - although a heatlthy learner is desirable. But the same might be said of sport: sprinting is not the marathon...

Our initial Tranche 1 research has four stages (see below) followed by a second more rigorous Tranche 2.

There will be activities you can try along with yourselves too.But this is early research, there is no certainty, so don't try ideas on the-most-important-test-of-your-life yet. Some details are very clear already: no breakfast is worse for examination performance that having a breakfast for example.

At some stage we will be asking you for feedback - there will be a survey to simplify that.

Tranche 1: initial four stages of our research

stage one: a literature survey - this is not about diet and well-being, which is covered well elsewhere - it is about diet and success in the exam room, together with by diet and more general success in Learning. At this date, Spring 2018 , we have completed this stage. The literature is disappointingly thin, but we have enough information to proceed.

stage two: from the literature survey, we will have identified ingredients that we think would be useful to include in meals the night before, and on the morning of, your exam. We are beginning to trial these with some rigour, on a small group of controlled volunteers - all in existing school provision - but also looking at factors like sleep and exercise; we have surveyed our initial group. We are confident that their learning will not get worse, but we want to see where and how it gets better.

stage three: then we will be asking a number of people, experts in diet and food (for example a Michelin star chef, a school caterer, a grandmother) to create recipes for your pre-exam dinner and your pre exam breakfast - and maybe for snacks too. We will try these out, formally on our research population.

stage four: finally and some way off yet, we will be asking you to try these out, and then to answer the short survey posted here - self reporting and specific entries will be anonymous, but we will mail contibutors the initial findings; obviously, we will repect your privacy, always.

Tranche 2: full and detailed research

Our intention in Tranche 2 is to produce a more detailed, controlled, larger scale trial of the ingredients / nutrients insights that emerge from tranche 1 of work - as usual, proper science.

Watch this space for 2018/19...


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posted here for your information, to let you know what is coming as we get further into the work

this page last edited Monday, March 26, 2018 11:13 AM - by Prof Stephen Heppell