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The Brain, Learning, and Behaviour

Created byAlison Waterhouse

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Research clearly highlights that supporting both staff and children and young people (CYP) to understand how the brain triggers our emotions and how it affects learning, creates deeper understanding of our emotions and behaviours. This is turn supports CYP’s ability to manage stress, regulate emotions, and understand responses to situations more clearly. Knowing and understanding about how the brain works can empower people to choose to transform their lives and move towards greater health and wellbeing.

The Brain, Learning, and Behaviour course looks at a range of areas that have been shown to make a difference to the learning and wellbeing and mental health of CYP. They include: the impact of early experiences on brain growth and development; how to make the most of the learning relationship; learning and the brain; the stress response; adverse childhood experiences; positive childhood experiences; trauma and its impact on the brain; and trauma sensitive schools.

The latest research highlights the fact that mental health problems are both increasing in our CYP and appearing at a much earlier age. The course is for all those practitioners who want to support CYP in understanding how their minds work and give them strategies to cope with stress, self-regulation, learning, and relationships.

Who this course is for

  • Teachers
  • Emotional literacy support assistants
  • Teaching assistants
  • Learning mentors
  • Higher level teaching assistants
  • Others working with young people

What you'll learn

  • How the brain influences our behaviour and learning and how this can impact on our mental health and wellbeing
  • The concept of ‘The Learning Relationship’ and how it affects learning
  • The impact of Trauma on brain development
  • How trauma can affect learning and behaviour
  • What is needed to become a more Trauma Sensitive Practitioner
  • The knowledge and understanding to develop a Trauma Sensitive School
  • Introduction to the Brain, Learning, and Behaviour

  • Relationships and the Brain

  • Learning and the Brain

  • Trauma

  • Trauma and Schools

  • End of Course Tasks

The Brain and Learning: Supporting Emotional Health and Wellbeing in School


One of the five books in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Toolkit, this practical resource is designed to help young children understand how the brain affects ways we see and interpret the world. The book offers research-driven, practical strategies, resources, and lesson plans to support educators and health professionals. Key sections include ‘How the brain develops’, ‘Dealing with the inner critic’, and ‘Strategies that can help us manage strong emotions’.

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Your tutor

Avatar of Alison Waterhouse

Alison Waterhouse

Educational Psychotherapist and Founder of the Circles for Learning Project

Alison Waterhouse has worked in mainstream, special education, and the independent sector for the past 30 years, specialising in working with children with Additional Educational Needs (AEN) including Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Alison set up and developed an Independent Therapeutic Special School in Kent. She then moved into mainstream schools where she worked as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and Inclusion Manager. Alison then went on to develop an innovative role in mainstream schools, titled, 'Teacher in Charge of Social and Emotional Wellbeing of the Whole School Community’.

Alison has worked with the Anna Freud Centre, Young Minds, and Optimus training staff in schools on topics including  attachment, emotional barriers to learning, mental health and wellbeing, and becoming a trauma sensitive school. She now works as an Independent Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Mental Health and Wellbeing Adviser. Alison is also a qualified Educational Psychotherapist and has her own practice in East Sussex.

Alison has spent the past 8 years developing the ‘Circles for Learning’ project in schools. Circles for Learning trains and then supports teachers to bring a parent and young child into the classroom (at the KS1 - KS3 level) once a month for a year. This amazing experience allows children to observe the development of relationships, watch learning unfold, understand how our sense of self develops, and observe and understand emotions and the ways in which they impact on our behaviour. With the guidance and support of their teacher they explore and think about what they have seen and how this may link to their own development, learning, thinking, behaviour, and ways of interacting with others. These parent young child observation visits are the provocation or stimulus to follow up work led by the teacher exploring each of the five essential elements that form the foundations for positive mental health and wellbeing.

Alison has undertaken primary research project and a Masters looking at the impact of the project on children and young people (CYP) within schools. Whilst developing the project she has assorted the knowledge into five resource books which have been published by Routledge. They make up the Mental Health and Wellbeing Teachers Toolkit.

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