UCL academics join expert group to advise Princess of Wales’ work on early childhood

Profs Eamon McCrory and Peter Fonagy with the Princess of Wales in 2018 - The DuProfs Eamon McCrory and Peter Fonagy with the Princess of Wales in 2018 - The Duchess of Cambridge in conversation with Professors Eamon McCrory (left) and Peter Fonagy while  visiting campus in November 2018
Two UCL professors have been appointed to offer strategic advice to The Princess of Wales and provide oversight of the work of her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

Professors Peter Fonagy and Eamon McCrory (both UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) are among eight experts from across academia, science and the early years sector in the new Advisory Group, who met with Her Royal Highness for the first time at Windsor Castle on Wednesday 25 January.

They will go on to support The Princess and the Centre as work is accelerated to promote the fundamental importance of the first five years of a child’s life.  

Several of those involved have already played a pivotal role in the work The Princess of Wales has been pursuing for more than a decade in this field, helping her to shape her work on the issue and adding to her determination to help change the way people think about early childhood.

The group will support the delivery of the Centre’s work in commissioning new research, learning from best practice in the UK and globally, and raising awareness of the extraordinary impact the first five years of life have on future outcomes. Advisory Group members have been chosen for their deep expertise in a range of areas including neuroscience, psychology, perinatal psychiatry, early years services and policy development.

Professor Fonagy, Head of UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, said: "Professor McCrory and I have supported Her Royal Highness and the Royal Foundation on this journey for some time and it is gratifying to see the attention to developmental neuroscience and evidence-based practice which is shaping the Princess of Wales’ important initiative. It continues to be a privilege to be involved with this movement to draw attention to the importance of emotional development in the earliest years."

Professor McCrory, Co-Director of the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit at UCL, said: "In recent years Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales, has spearheaded a drive to increase public awareness of the first five years of life as a crucial period in development. She recognises the potential value of developmental neuroscience, and research more broadly, in helping to transform societal understanding and priorities around early childhood. This is particularly important if we are to shift to a prevention based model, and make a step-change in improving the physical and mental health of the next generation."

Amanda Berry, Chief Executive of The Royal Foundation, said: "Working with such an eminent group of people is an absolute privilege. I know their advice and experience is hugely valued by The Princess, and the whole Centre for Early Childhood team, as we continue to drive awareness of, and action on, the transformative impact of the early years."