Quality of life for children and young people

Many children and young people in our society face severe challenges affecting their health, development and wellbeing. Oxford Brookes is spearheading important work across a number of specific areas to understand these complex challenges and to ensure that the right knowledge and support is in place to enable them and their families to thrive.

Quality of life for children and young people

Our progress so far

We are leading the way in a number of important areas in this field.

We are at the centre of an international drive to determine the genetic cause of babies being born with serious eye abnormalities. Our researchers have discovered many of the genes responsible, leading to clearer diagnosis and accurate genetic counselling for families.

Brookes is already making big improvements in quality of life for children with neurological conditions and other movement disorders. We have successfully piloted a scheme - the CLEAR (Clinical Exercise and Rehabilitation Unit) club - where children with these conditions take part in fun activities with trained exercise professionals to boost their confidence and skills.

We have significant research expertise in child development, from understanding typical and atypical development in young children to preventing unhealthy behaviours, for instance, drug and alcohol consumption in teenagers. Our research informs best practice guidelines used in schools, hospitals and social care environments.

Our ambitions


Through their investigations, Oxford Brookes researchers aim to find out what therapeutic actions can be undertaken to help families affected by these problems.  Five years ago, we were aware of 10-20 genes known to be responsible for eye abnormalities. Today there are 200 potential known genes, each of which forms a separate study. There is an urgent need to bring these studies together in a new phase and to carefully manage and support the families involved.


We want to ensure that there is better access to affordable, sustainable activities for every child with a long term condition across Oxfordshire and to fund new, important research in the field of rehabilitation. In addition, by improving the facilities and research equipment at our rehabilitation unit, we will be able to expand our research opportunities and bring vital support to young people whose movement abilities are so restricted.

Working with the children has been a real eye opener into how low self esteem and confidence levels can really affect someone. In CLEAR club, we have been able to help kids with their confidence so that they actually enjoy exercise and can see that they are capable of tasks that they didn’t think they would be able to perform.

Hannah Roper, CLEAR assistant, Oxford Brookes University.


Our children and families research has already produced practical tools for assessing children’s development, understanding and preventing unhealthy behaviours and enabling children to reach their potential.  By expanding our research we will be able to address new areas of concern and provide practical support in areas such as: health and well-being in pregnancy; safeguarding children; and whether dyslexia has an impact on writing composition.

How you can help

If you are motivated to help us improve the quality of life for children and young people, donations of all sizes will help to make this a reality. By supporting our Health Fund, your gift will make a difference to babies born with eye abnormalities, young people who struggle every day from long-term movement restrictions and children who suffer from development disorders such as dyslexia.

Case study

Twelve-year old Jane has Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).  In the classroom she has enormous difficulty keeping up with practical and written tasks. In particular, her handwriting is very slow, untidy and hard to read.  Jane is a bright girl, high achieving in some areas. However, she is ashamed by her poor handwriting.  She is also frustrated at not being able to easily and quickly communicate her ideas, sometimes leading to poor grades at school. 

Concerned about her daughter's progress and low self-esteem, Jane's mother decided to take part in a research study at Oxford Brookes University to assess motor competence and handwriting skills in children.  Advice was passed on to Jane's teachers to help them provide more support for her at school, including extra time in written examinations to help Jane demonstrate her knowledge and ideas. With the extra understanding and support at school, Jane is now blossoming and beginning to show her real potential.