The learning success blog

Picture of Peter Barnes

Peter Barnes

Peter Barnes has diverse background and experience that ranges from adult education & training in a human resources context, through learning & business innovation, to the leadership of large organisations. He has also worked in finance journalism, accountancy, and digital marketing.

Peter has been involved with the LearnFast Group since 2003, when he joined his wife, Devon, to help her manage the growth in the numbers of schools and individuals using LearnFast’s educational software programs to address language and literacy challenges for learners of all ages.

Peter is a passionate snow skier and has a wide range of interests – from mirror neurons, to American politics (and many others!). Peter has a vision for improving the education of future generations through the innovative and creative use of emerging technologies.

How You Can Spot Weak Cognitive Skills in Your Classroom

What’s happening in your students’ brains when they can’t follow your classroom instructions? What if a student doesn’t want to answer your question? And why do some students struggle to tell a story?

These are all signs that a student may have a weakness in one or more key cognitive skills. Skills essential for learning.

As well as language skills, we all need four key thinking skills for effective learning. They are: memory, attention, processing, and sequencing.

Here are some behaviours you might notice if your students have a weakness in these skills:

Read More

25% improvement in writing skills in 11 weeks using Fast ForWord123

25 university students who had Fast ForWord123 training for 11 weeks boosted their writing skills 25%.

This compares with a control group of 28 students at the same university who did not receive the training, and who showed no improvement over the same 11 week period.

Because no explicit practice with writing is included in the training program, the results of this study demonstrate that training in basic cognitive, listening, and reading skills generalise to improved writing ability.

Read More

Fast ForWord: How Much Evidence is Enough? Science & Real World

A school principal recently said to me, “I’ve heard of Fast ForWord but there is no evidence that it works, is there?”

That wasn’t the first time I had heard that.

I’m always amazed when people say there is no evidence of Fast ForWord’s effectiveness. If they only looked, they would find hundreds of journal articles and school case studies with many examples of the success of over 2.5 million individuals who have done Fast ForWord over the last 20 years.

Read More

250 Research Studies Published on Fast ForWord & Reading Assistant


How do you usually make decisions when you are thinking about an important purchase such as a car or a large household item like a refrigerator or washing machine?

Do you base your decisions on:

  1. How you feel (“I really like it”)?
  2. What others say about it?
  3. Comparisons of facts and data (fuel consumption, energy efficiency, reports by independent consumer organisations)?
  4. A combination of all of these.

Decisions about educational software

Read More

Double " teaching as usual" reading gain - 146 NSW primary students

Here is how a primary school achieved double the reading gain one would normally expect.

Picture this:  Following a half day professional development session, "Glasses for the Ears" where the teachers discovered how their students could become better learners by using neuroscience, students of all abilities from Grades 2 to 6 were enrolled in the Fast ForWord neuroscience-based program.

The teachers who volunteered to implement the program received more detailed ongoing training and support.

Read More

How Poverty & Disadvantage Impacts Learning for 730,000 Children

More than 730,000 children in Australia are living below the poverty line.

These disadvantaged children are at risk of having their learning compromised.

The Poverty in Australia 2016 Report, released last week, found the number of children living in poverty is increasing.

The report was written by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) in collaboration with the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

Find out how poverty and disadvantage can disrupt learning – see this infographic (courtesy of We Are Teachers and Scientific Learning Corporation).

Read More

3 Famous Neuroscientists: How Brain Plasticity Helps Human Potential

“The science of neuroplasticity is slowly but surely transforming how we think about ourselves and our brains, and how we can build a stronger brain that provides us with a better life,” said Dr Michael Merzenich.

He was speaking in a roundtable discussion with Professors Eve Marder and Carla Shatz following the trio’s receipt of the $1million 2016 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience.

The three scientists discussed how their work disrupted a central dogma of neuroscience and how it offers the promise of plasticity-based treatments for people who are struggling to learn, have brain damage or who have brains at risk of mental illness or dementia.

Read More

What is Neuroplasticity & How Does It Impact Education?  (Infographic)

“Everything having to do with human training and education has to be re-examined in light of neuroplasticity". (Norman Doidge, author of "The Brain That Changes Itself”).

What is neuroplasticity? It is the understanding that experiences are able to change our brains, and that our brain’s structure and capacity are not fixed. The eminent neuroscientist, Dr Michael Merzenich, widely known as “the father of neuroplasticity”, recently shared the $1million Kavli Prize for his contribution to this understanding.

Neuroplasticity offers the prospect of new ways to improve learning and education, physical rehabilitation, mental illnesses and addiction.

An excellent infographic explaining neuroplasticity has been produced by Alta Mira, a San Francisco rehabilitation and recovery centre.  

 The infographic includes this comment about education:

Read More

Fast ForWord Neuroscience Programs a Success at Covenant College

“I’ve too many good results here with a range of children to not give all the kids an opportunity to do it”.

That's how Bruce Horman, Head of Junior School at Covenant College explained why he decided to have all children in Grade Three participate in the neuroscience-based Fast ForWord program in 2015.

Covenant College is a K -12 school with 540 students in Geelong, Victoria.

For the previous three years Covenant College had focussed the program on students from various grades who were presenting with a range of learning difficulties. They also included some students who were achieving in the mid range of their cohort, but had potential to do better.

Bruce commented, “I've seen that bright kids also benefit from Fast ForWord. It's not just for those kids who are really struggling”.

Read More

Dawson Now Loves to Read, Thanks to 6 Weeks of Fast ForWord

This is a personal story. It’s about my grandson Dawson.

He’s in grade 4 at school. Dawson is a bright boy. Intelligence testing has put him in the 90th percentile in overall cognitive ability. But his language skills were tested as relatively weak.

He had no trouble learning to read, and he was able to understand what he read. But he wasn’t a big reader.  He would read reluctantly and did not seem to get a lot of enjoyment from it.

Earlier this year his teacher reported that Dawson was reading at a level between year 3 and year 4.

Read More