Sharing the Science evaluation

Publication date 2021

Building a shared understanding of child brain development between professionals and families

Sharing the Science (now known as Sharing the Brain Story) is a programme that aims to help professionals and families understand child brain development and how it can be affected by early adversity.

The programme uses six metaphors to explain key aspects of early child development, the impact of adversity, and the factors that can lead to abuse and neglect.

We evaluated a programme pilot conducted in Glasgow to understand professionals’ experiences of attending a Sharing the Science workshop and using the Sharing the Science metaphors in practice.

We also conducted focus groups with parents, carers and young people to explore their responses to the Sharing the Science metaphors.

Authors: Emma Moore, Emily Robson Brown and Gill Churchill
Published: 2021

Download Formative Evaluation of Sharing the Science
Download the report (PDF)

Key finding

A trauma-informed approach should be taken if sharing the metaphors with a wider audience

Parents, carers and young people felt that sharing the metaphors widely was important for improving understanding of early child development, and for helping parents to do the best for their children. However, desire for universal sharing needs to be balanced with being trauma-informed and making sure that support is available, as the metaphors have the potential to cause distress to individuals who have experienced trauma or abuse.

Other findings include:

Participants felt the metaphors increased their knowledge and awareness

The Sharing the Science metaphors were perceived to increase knowledge of the six concepts they explain and were felt to be helpful for raising awareness of the impact of trauma and abuse on child brain development.

The metaphors are relevant to people’s lives and can evoke discussions about personal experiences

The metaphors led to discussions about personal experiences, indicating that they may be a helpful tool for professionals to use to facilitate conversations in therapeutic work with children and families.

Strong emotions and judgements about different parenting practices can arise from viewing the metaphor videos

Watching the metaphor videos led to the expression of feelings of blame and failure from parents/carers whose child had experienced adversity, as well as judgements about the acceptability of different parenting practices. It is therefore important to emphasise that recovery is always possible when raising awareness about the impact of adversity.


What children and professionals told us

“The materials, e.g. videos and handouts of information from trainers, were of a high-quality standard to equip me well to build the metaphors into my practice.”

“Yeah, I think it’s good for the age that they’re [the NSPCC] going for, just because if they [children and young people] ever do think of having kids, they know what to do to make them grow and be the best that they can be.”

Young person

Moore, E., Robson Brown, E. and Churchill, G. (2021) Formative evaluation of Sharing the Science: building a shared understanding of child brain development and the impact of early adversity. London: NSPCC.

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