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Cambridge University has paid tribute to expert on play and early childhood, Dr David Whitebread, who has died.

Dr Whitebread championed learning through play and was an influential academic and researcher in developmental psychology and early childhood education. His death was announced by Cambridge University where he has worked since 1986.

Dr Whitebread, who was internationally recognised as a leading authority in the understanding of self-regulation and metacognition in young children, taught in primary schools for 12 years before joining Cambridge University.

This background in primary school teaching gave him many of his biggest professional strengths, according to Professor Susan Robertson, head of Faculty of Education at Cambridge University, as it imbued him with “a deep understanding of educational practice, wide collaboration with teachers, and a fun-loving, playful way of conducting his teaching and projects”.

She said: “David’s passing is a huge loss to the psychology and education community, and he will be hugely missed by everyone who knew him at the Faculty.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife, Linda Whitebread, their daughters Elisabeth and Sarah, and with David’s friends, former students, and colleagues.”

Iram Siraj, Professor of Child Development & Education, University of Oxford, tweeted: “I am stunned and deeply saddened to hear that Dr David Whitebread’s died this week. He was one of the best ECEC experts and a wonderful, kind and funny man. He contributed greatly to understanding of self-regulation and children’s metacognitive talk.”

Dr Whitebread was well-travelled, giving lectures and undertaking consultancies in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, China, India, Poland, Uganda, the USA, and Tanzania. He was also actively involved in research and international outreach programmes with the LEGO Foundation, establishing a long-lasting collaboration which impacted the lives of many children by providing opportunities for learning through play.

The full story, as reported by daynurseries,.co.uk, can be found here.

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