School Research Seminar - Associations between cognitive development, socioeconomic disadvantage, and ethnicity: perspectives from the Born in Bradford cohort study

We are delighted to welcome Professor Amanda Waterman (University of Leeds) to deliver the School Research Seminar.


Born in Bradford (BIB) is a birth cohort study following over 13,500 children and their families. Working alongside schools, we collected data on key cognitive abilities that underpin learning (including working memory, inhibitory response, and fine motor skills). This information is shared with teachers, to help identify how best to support individual pupils. We have also investigated associations with sociodemographic factors. There has been debate as to whether working memory is influenced by socioeconomic position, but our results showed children from the most deprived socioeconomic group scored less well on these tasks, with the difference equivalent to at least a one year age gap. In comparison to White British children, children from several different ethnic minority groups (e.g., Pakistani, Indian, Black British) tended to score better on the working memory tasks. Comparing data from the two main ethnic groups (White British and Pakistani) showed a clear social gradient in working memory scores for White British children, such that increasing socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with decreased scores. However, this social gradient was much less pronounced for the Pakistani children. Possible explanations for this difference are being explored.

Speaker biography

Amanda Waterman is Professor of Cognitive Development in the School of Psychology at the University of Leeds. She is Academic Lead for cognitive research within the Born in Bradford longitudinal study, and sits on the Steering Committee for the Centre for Applied Education Research in the Wolfson Centre.

Event practicalities and joining details

The event will be held on Zoom, access the meeting via the link and joining details below:

Meeting ID: 889 9205 0157
Passcode: z7^hNV

No booking required.


You can read our statement on academic debate here.