Meet The Team

BrainCanDo is run by an agile and experienced team of expert researchers and senior education professionals.   We are well-respected and well-connected in the field of educational neuroscience and we are proud to offer a comprehensive and bespoke service to our clients.   We collaborate closely with teaching professionals, combining our knowledge and their unique expertise in order to achieve the very best learning outcomes for students. 

Julia Harrington

Founder & CEO

Julia Harrington established BrainCanDo in 2013 at Queen Anne’s School in Berkshire where she is Headmistress. BrainCanDo began as a research programme and has evolved into a dynamic centre of research and collaborative excellence, providing consultancy, training and networking to teaching professionals.

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Julia Harrington established BrainCanDo in 2013 at Queen Anne’s School in Berkshire where she is Headmistress. BrainCanDo began as a research programme and has evolved into a dynamic centre of research and collaborative excellence, providing consultancy, training and networking to teaching professionals.

A charitable organisation, BrainCanDo partners with top academics to commission research into educational neuroscience and psychology. BrainCanDo then translates the results into teaching best practice designed to empower adolescent students and enrich the classroom experience and their wellbeing.

The idea for BrainCanDo came from Julia’s own fascination with neuroscience and her ongoing commitment to helping students achieve their full potential, academically and emotionally.

She recognised that adolescents face unique pressures at a time of immense brain development. By cultivating a deep understanding of how the brain learns during adolescence, she believes that we can harness the amazing potential of this exceptional stage of development. Having successfully implemented several evidence-based programmes at Queen Anne’s School, Julia and the BrainCanDo team now partner with state and independent schools, universities and research centres to embed research knowledge into the education system.

Julia herself trained as a psychodynamic counsellor before teaching history and becoming a head. Queen Anne’s School won the TES Independent Schools Award for ‘outstanding post-16 innovative provision’ for its sixth-form centre, The Space, which was designed to fulfil the philosophy behind BrainCanDo. Having had the pleasure and excitement of working closely with top psychologists and educational neuroscientists, Julia celebrated BrainCanDo’s fifth birthday by embarking on a Master’s in Educational Neuroscience at the Centre for Educational Neurosciences, based at University College London and Birkbeck College, London.

Julia is a member of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) and is the HMC representative for the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL). She is also a member of the Girls’ Schools’ Association wellbeing committee and of HMC’s communications sub-committee.

Collaborative partnerships underpin the work of BrainCanDo. Julia and the team invite you to be part of our fascinating and ambitious initiative.

Dr Amy Fancourt

Director of Research

Dr Amy Fancourt is Director of Research at BrainCanDo. As Research Lead, Amy works to facilitate collaborative research with leading academic partners and has been involved in a number of projects exploring the impact of active musical engagement over adolescence, the power of self-affirmation on cognitive performance and the role of social networks in motivation contagion.

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Prior to this, Amy completed a PhD in psychology at The University of London, Goldsmiths College, exploring the relationship between music and language cognition in children with Specific Language Impairment and retains an interest in the impact of music on child and adolescent outcomes.

Nancy Mulligan

Research Manager

Nancy Mulligan is Research Manager for BrainCanDo, working alongside the Director of Research, coordinating projects with universities and BrainCanDo clients. She has a MSc in Occupational Psychology and is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with considerable project management ​experience.

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Nancy project manages our research ​with our university collaborators and oversees the smooth implementation of our consultancy work in schools. She plays an active role in advising clients on project implementation supporting them to deliver on time, on budget and to a high standard. Nancy also helps to organise and deliver our INSET training and ​BrainCanDo conferences.

She has a particular interest in ​understanding the development of the teenage brain and how this impacts learning in adolescents. Recent projects she has enjoyed managing have included sleep hygiene and later school start times, developing resilience in teenagers and fostering gratitude within a school community. Nancy likes to work closely with schools to identify what they need and then design a bespoke project to answer a particular question, support a school embed it’s values or collate empirical data from staff or students on any specific measure such as wellbeing. Nancy offers a flexible and committed approach and enjoys working with a wide variety of schools, with both staff and pupils, supporting them in managing their own research.

Prior to working at BrainCanDo, Nancy worked in both the public and private sector as a consultant psychologist. She has extensive experience undertaking and managing ​projects, within and behalf of a number of ​world class organisations including Johnson and Johnson, The Post Office, The Employment Service, The Bank of England and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Catherine Sadler

Training & Development Manager

Catherine Sadler is currently completing her PhD in sport psychology from the University of Essex and is the Training and Development Manager for BrainCanDo, with a focus on delivering student workshops and presentations that inform students about educational neuroscience and mental tools they can use to reduce exam stress and increase confidence in the classroom.

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Prior to working on her PhD, Catherine taught Physical Education at Queen Anne’s School and worked as a Mental Health Counselling intern in New York, while completing her MSc in Clinical Mental Health Counselling.

She has also competed at a high level in sports, playing NCAA Division I basketball in the United States and competing in the highest professional basketball league in England.

Melissa Barber

Sales & Marketing Manager

Melissa Barber is our Sales and Marketing Manager at BrainCanDo. She is a CIM qualified marketer, has a BSc in Psychology and is helping BrainCanDo reach the next level in its growth, by working with the team to harness and further develop the vast interest in its research in to the teenage mind.

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Melissa supports BrainCanDo in identifying and reaching key markets and the creation of training packages for different audiences, she also helps to develop and monitor our sales pipeline. Prior to working at BrainCanDo, Melissa worked in the professional services and student recruitment marketing sectors. She is also a BACP registered Counsellor.

Susan Brock

Coordinator

Susan supports Julia Harrington’s busy BrainCanDo schedule and provides vital support to the team across all of its projects.


Associates

We work with a carefully selected group of expert researchers, speakers and training to deliver the highest quality events and trainers.

Ben Stephenson

Ben started his career as a Sports Psychology Consultant, working with a variety of athletes and teams, including the British Football Association.

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He has an MSc in Sports Psychology and quickly realised that many of the techniques used to help athletes reach peak performance could also be applied in the classroom to help students. Ben has now been teaching for over ten years and has been a director of sixth form for the past four, joining Queen Anne’s School in September 2018. Alongside this, Ben continues to deliver workshops to staff, parents and students on how to best prepare for examinations. He was a keynote speaker at the 2018 Heads of Sixth Form Conference.

Dr Iro Konstantinou

Dr Iro Konstantinou is the Head of Research Programmes at the Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning at Eton College, where she oversees various research projects on character and pedagogical developments.

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She edits the Eton Journal for Research and Innovation in Education, and oversees the Leadership Institute, an initiative between the London Academy of Excellence and Eton College. She works for Pearson, where she develops higher education (HE) modules in research methods and researches interventions to improve well-being in student transition to HE. She is also a research fellow at BrainCanDo, leading a project on resilience in year nine pupils across state and independent schools.

Dr Jonathan Beale

Dr Jonathan Beale is Researcher-in-Residence at Eton College; a Research Fellow for BrainCanDo; and Head of Public Speaking at Queen Anne’s School.

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He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is the co-editor of three books for Routledge, including The ‘BrainCanDo’ Handbook of Teaching and Learning (Routledge, 2020). He has published articles on philosophy and education in academic journals and media outlets, including the New York Times. He was Head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Queen Anne’s from 2017-19. He has lectured at the University of Reading and he was a Fellow in Philosophy at Harvard University.

Dr Laura Burgess

Dr Laura Burgess was recently awarded her PhD in psychology from the University of Reading.

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Her doctoral thesis focuses on the theme of motivation contagion within schools, looking at similarities between friends both in observable behaviour and in brain activation. She has expertise in motivation, network statistics and neuroscience and is motivated to find ways to apply these research fields to educational practice. Following the submission of her thesis, she now undertaking a postdoctoral research fellow position at the University of Reading, where she continues to work in the field of contagion in the classroom, publishing the work from her PhD in an ongoing collaboration with BrainCanDo. Alongside her research role, Laura also holds a teaching position in the Psychology department at Queen Anne’s School.