The Children Learning Research group investigates how children learn literacy and mathematics in and out of school.

Its innovative and influential research is recognised worldwide as outstanding for its theoretical advances, methodological rigour and applications to education. Our research bridges the gap between theory and practice because it is focused on questions that matter to schools and children. Our pioneering theoretical insights break new grounds in promoting children’s learning with understanding. Our work synthesizes cognitive and cultural trends in the study of children’s learning and redefines traditional oppositions in the teaching of literacy and mathematics to bring out their complementarity. In the last three years our interventions or assessments were used in over 400 schools across England. Our publications appear in academic journals to report the cutting edge findings, chapters and books that synthesize our research for non-specialists and teachers, conference proceedings to reach a larger audience, and research briefings written for teachers who are part of the research, to support their efforts in trying out our novel ideas in their classrooms.

Selected Publications

Books & monographs

Nunes, T., Dorneles, B. V., Lin, P-J, Shuhua, A. (2016). Teaching and learning about whole numbers in primary school. Hamburg: Springer. (ISBN: 978-3-319-45112-1)

Journal articles

Pittas, E. & Nunes, T. (2018). Children’s early performance in Dialect Awareness predicts later achievement in reading and spelling. Learning and Instruction, 53, 1-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2017.07.002

Ching, B. H.-H., & Nunes, T. (2017). Children’s understanding of the commutativity and complement principles: A latent profile analysis. Learning and Instruction, 47, 65-79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2016.10.008

Ching, B. H.-H., & Nunes, T. (2017). The Importance of Additive Reasoning in

Children’s Mathematical Achievement: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109 (4), 477-508.  DOI: 10.1037/edu0000154

Nunes, T. & Vargas, R. (2016). Um instrumento para a avaliação formativa de textos produzidos por usuários de LIBRAS (A new assessment for the evaluation of deaf children’s texts). Educar em Revista, 62, Curitiba, Brasil, 125-141.

Ching, B. H-H., & Nunes, T. (2015). Concurrent Correlates of Chinese Word Recognition in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 5, 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/env003

Nunes, T., Bryant, P., Evans, D., & Barros, R. (2015). Assessing quantitative reasoning in young children. Mathematics Teaching and Learning, 17:2-3, 178-196, DOI:


Book chapters

Nunes, T. (2016). Teaching literacy to English children: Policy and practice. In V. Cook & D. Ryan (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of the English writing system (pp. 205-222). London: Routledge.

Nunes, T. (2016). What is involved in modeling the world with mathematics. In A. Anderson, J. Anderson, J. Hare & M. McTavish (Eds.), Language, learning, and culture in early childhood. Home, school, and community contexts (pp. 180-196). New York: Routledge.

Nunes, T., & Bryant, P. (2015). The development of quantitative reasoning. In L. S. Liben & U. Müller (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (7th ed., Vol. 2. Cognitive Process, pp. 715-764). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Study with us

Taught courses

Examples of current DPhil projects

  • Lauren Burton: Teaching meaning requires intervening: teaching children morphological spelling rules
  • Yu Chan: Cross-linguistic transfer of phonological awareness in Chinese children receiving English instruction: an intervention study
  • Philea Chim: An intervention study on the structure of the Chinese writing system for L2 learners of Chinese
  • Mariana Simoes: Brazilian pre-schoolers knowledge of mathematical reasoning
  • Tinya Yu: Bridging the gap for Hong Kong Chinese students of English: From learning to read to reading to learn
  • Zhen Zheng: The Role of Oral Form, Written Form, and Meaning in Chinese Children’s Learning of English Vocabulary

Examples of past DPhil projects

  • Boby Ho-Hong Ching: The Importance of Additive Reasoning in Children’s Mathematical Achievement: A Longitudinal Study. Awarded the prize for the best thesis by the Jean Piaget Society, USA
  • Evdokia Pittas: Predicting Greek Cypriot children’s reading and spelling from morphological and dialect awareness
  • Hashemiah Al-Musawi: The Role of Phonology, Morphology and Dialect in Reading Arabic among Hearing and Deaf Children
  • Jeanne Erickson: The Education Experiences of Eight American Adolescents In Cancer Survivorship
  • Laura Gottardis: Deaf primary school children’s achievement in mathematics
  • Yuka K. Seljegard: The effect of long-term tracheostomy on language and social development of young children
  • Sarah Walter: One for you, one for me. Quantitative sharing in young children.
  • Megan Patrick: Box not bocks, socks not sox: how children learn morphological spellings


Research conducted by this group on the ‘Reasoning First’ programmes have been taken up by more schools in the last year and continue to have an impact through the National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching (NCETM).

The NCETM was a partner the one of the group’s previous EEF grants to assess the effectiveness of the programme Mathematical Reasoning in Year 2; 160 schools participated in this project and used the programme. The NCETM is now using it as a preparation for their Mastery Teaching in Mathematics. This approach will be tested in 50 schools this year.

Further information can be included if there is interest -please contact the group convenor. Presently access is still restricted and some of the materials are not yet open.