The Duchess of Cambridge looked perfectly polished on a visit to a north London secondary school today.
Kate, 39, wore a matching £299 pink coat and £75 roll neck jumper, both from Hobbs, tailored trousers and suede pumps for the outing to Nower Hill High School in Harrow.
The Duchess joined in a science lesson where year 8 pupils learned about neuroscience and the importance of early childhood development on the brain.
The royal mother-of-three, who shared a desk with some of the pupils, said she found the children’s enthusiasm and engagement inspiring.
She tried her hand at a worksheet and asked the children whether they found the lesson ‘interesting’ and if they had covered the topic before.
Out and about: The Duchess of Cambridge went back to the classroom today to sit in on a science class discussing the effect of early childhood experiences on babies’ brains
The Duchess of Cambridge looked perfectly polished on her visit to a north London secondary school today. Kate (pictured right), 39, wore a berry coloured coat, tailored trousers and suede pumps for the outing to Nower Hill High School in Harrow
The Duchess joined in a science lesson, pictured, where year 8 pupils learned about neuroscience and the importance of early childhood development on the brain. The royal said she found the children’s enthusiasm and engagement inspiring
The science lesson focused on the neuroscience underpinning how caregiver’s behaviour is pivotal to childhood development and children’s future outcomes.
The topic is closely linked to one of the cornerstone’s of the Duchess’s royal work.
Through her work with The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, launched this summer, Kate is aiming to highlight how what we experience in early childhood shapes the developing brain, which is why positive relationships, environments and experiences during this period are so crucial.
Kate told students that she felt ‘passionate’ about the subject, telling them: ‘I was so fascinated when I first learnt about this. How babies’ brains are formed and how they developed and what this means for us when we grow up.’
The Duchess joined 27 students, aged around 13, in W8 class at the 2,000-pupil, mixed ability comprehensive school.
The pupils were recapping on the learning as part of a SEEN programme – Secondary Education around Early Neurodevelopment – run by Oxford University that looks to embed the key principles of early childhood development and neuroscience in students.
After being greeted by head Louise Voden and head of science, Zoe Watson, Kate walked through the playground to the classroom. While most students were in class, a few spotted their mystery VIP visitors and squealed with excitement through the window, prompting Kate to smile and wave.
The class was being taught by Mariam Kassir and after saying hello, Kate quietly took her seat at one of the tables.
‘It’s a great programme, isn’t it?’ she said to the four students she was sitting with. ‘The depth and the detail is amazing. Does it really resonate?’
All smiles: The royal mother-of-three couldn’t keep the smile from her face during her visit to the secondary school in London
The Duchess of Cambridge sat down at a desk alongside year 8 students to learn more about their work, pictured. The visit focused on the importance of early childhood development, which is of particular interest to the Duchess
Mower Hill headteacher Miss Voden said afterwards that it had been an ‘honour’ to have the duchess (pictured above) visit
On the projector were photographs demonstrating the neuro development of a young child’s brain.
They were also shown a video of a toddler playing by looking through a magnifying glass, and tasked with answering a series of questions including: what happens in the brain in the first five years of life and what advice would you give to a new parent.
‘Hopefully you can teach me about the things you are learning,’ said Kate, referring to the three lessons the children had already been given.
She smiled as one enthusiastic pupil told her that encouraging children to learn through play was like ‘bodybuilding, but for your brain’ and nodded encouragingly as another told her that a child’s brain grows fastest between the ages of 0-2.
‘You really are taking it on board,’ she smiled encouragingly. ‘What’s the most interesting thing you have done so far? ‘ she asked.
Showing them a picture of a young girl playing, she added: ‘What is the child thinking? She has lots of different things, doesn’t she? From your knowledge do you know what parts of the brain she might be using?
‘It’s important to understand how important play is for babies as they develop. It’s not only enjoyable but it helps them to develop. Is your school good and do they encourage you to do play a lot and to be creative? Did anyone inspire you? And why do you think learning about the brain is so important.’
The children couldn’t have been more enthusiastic, peppering her with answers.
After being greeted by head Louise Voden and head of science, Zoe Watson, Kate (pictured) walked through the playground to the classroom
The class was being taught by Mariam Kassir and after saying hello, Kate quietly took her seat at one of the tables (pictured)
As she left Kate declared herself ‘very impressed with all the knowledge in this room’ and told the class: ‘So really well done and I hope you found it interesting. It’s a real passion of mine, learning about babies’ brains and how our adult brains develop and how our early childhood influences the adult brain. Keep thinking about it, keep chatting about it with your friends. Well done, super impressed and thank you for having me.’
The SEEN research project has been commissioned and funded by Kindred2, the early years charitable foundation, and developed by the University of Oxford which tested a new science curriculum with Key Stage 3 pupils.
Over 3700 11–14-year-olds took part in three lessons which covered the neuroscience of how brains are built and how experiences – including the role of caregivers – impact brain development.
Teachers have been unanimous in their view that brain development during early childhood should be covered in school, and 91 per cent of pupils agreed that other pupils their age should be taught these science lessons.
Later the Duchess is expected to join a meeting of Chief Executives of Academy Trusts at Buckingham Palace who will have been briefed on the results of Oxford University’s research project.
The outing comes after Prince William and Kate reportedly dropped the BBC for their Christmas special after the broadcaster’s two-part series The Princes and the Press aired on Monday night.
The Christmas charity fundraiser, hosted by the Duchess with William watching on at Westminster Abbey, will instead be aired by ITV.
An industry insider said: ‘It was all arranged to be on BBC1 but it was switched in the last few days because of the terrible row over the documentary. And things are likely to get a lot worse between the Royal Family and the BBC before they get better as the second part of the documentary threatens to go further.’
MailOnline was not immediately able to confirm the Christmas special was meant to appear on the BBC or when ITV was offered the rights to air the concert.
The first episode of the two-part BBC2 series The Princes and The Press aired on Monday night and detailed media coverage of the young royals from 2012 to 2018, when Harry and Meghan became engaged.
Speaking about the decision to drop the BBC for the Christmas concert, a TV industry source told the Sun: ‘This is a real coup for ITV. It is a brand new format — the royals have never hosted a televised TV concert before. And to have the Duchess leading on it is a big deal.
‘Naturally most royal programming goes automatically to the BBC as the national broadcaster. Now it looks like they will work more with ITV in the future.’
The source said ITV was ‘surprised but delighted’ by the sudden change of plan, adding, ‘it will be a fantastic Christmas carol concert that will be TV gold for viewers at home.’ They added Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte may join their parents for filming at Westminster Abbey.
Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House last night issued an extraordinary joint statement over the documentary.
It said it was ‘disappointing’ that the BBC had chosen to air allegations surrounding Harry and Meghan’s departure from Britain and accused the broadcaster of giving credibility to ‘overblown and unfounded claims’ about the Royal Family.
Buckingham Palace earlier reportedly threatened a boycott on future projects with the BBC after courtiers were not allowed to view the controversial documentary before the first episode was aired last night.