skip to primary navigation skip to content

Helen Demetriou


Associate Professor of Psychology and Education

Chartered Psychologist

Bye-Fellow, Undergraduate Tutor, Director of Studies in Education (Homerton College)

E-mail Address:

empathy emotion educationDeveloping Non-Academic Skills

(Briefing for Houses of Parliament)

This POST note explains what is meant by the term ‘non-academic skills’and discusses the links between these skills and life outcomes, such as employability. It describes how these skills are currently taught and reviews evidence on effective approaches to teaching them, both within and outside the education system.

Postnote PN0583 - Developing Non-Academic Skills


  • MA (Hons) Psychology (University of Dundee)
  • PhD Developmental Psychology (King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry)
  • CPsychol (Chartered Psychologist)

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • British Psychological Society (MBPsS) with Chartered status, membership of Developmental Psychology section, and Division of Academics, Researchers, and Teachers in Psychology (DARTP)
  • Editorial board for Improving Schools journal ; Social Development journal ; Educational Studies journal
  • EmpathyLab expert advisor
  • Empathy Week expert advisor
  • Houses of Parliament advisor to department of non-academic skills

Back to top


Helen obtained her PhD in developmental psychology from the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London in 1998, where she also worked at the Centre for Social, Genetic and Developmental Research. Since then, she has worked at the Faculty of Education of the University of Cambridge as Research and Teaching Associate, working with, among others, Professor Jean Rudduck.

During this time she has also lectured in developmental psychology in the Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies, was Director of Studies at Sidney Sussex College; and currently teaches at the Faculty of Education on undergraduate, masters and doctoral courses. She is also coordinator of the British Psychological Society accreditation programme for the Masters in Psychology and Education.

Helen's research at the Faculty of Education has included: Sustaining pupils’ progress at year 3 (for Ofsted); Boys’ performance in modern foreign languages (for QCA); Friendships and performance at transfer and transition (for DfES); Consulting pupils about teaching and learning (ESRC funded project); How young children talk about fairness and How pupils deal with incidents of unfairness (projects internally funded by Research and Development for Helen Demetriou); a Gatsby funded project with Elaine Wilson: Supporting opportunities for new teachers’ professional growth; and has been been part of the Kazakhstan Project, focusing on the professional development of teachers in Kazakhstan. Currently Helen is researching ways to develop creativity in the D&T classroom with Bill Nicholl.

Academic Area/Links

Pupil voice

Gatsby Technical Education Project


Attachment in parenting and teaching

Back to top

Research Topics

  • Sustaining Progress in Year 3, for OFSTED
  • Boys' Performance in Modern Foreign Languages, for QCA
  • Friendships and Performance at Transfer and Transition, for DfES
  • Consulting Pupils about Teaching and Learning, funded by the ESRC
  • How young children talk about fairness - internally funded by Research and Development
  • How pupils deal with incidents of unfairness - internally funded by Research and Development
  • Teachers' professional learning
  • Professional development of teachers in Kazakhstan
  • Creativity with empathy and autonomy in the D&T classroom
  • The effects of literature on children's empathy and wellbeing 

Back to top

Course Involvement


Tripos Leadership Team member

Education, Psychology and Learning track coordinator

Play, Creativities and Imagination paper: coordinator and examiner

Designing Educational Research: coordinator and examiner

Formal and Informal Contexts of Learning: coordinator and examiner

Masters (Psychology and Education route):

Route coordinator

British Psychological Society coordinator/tutor

PhD supervision

I currently supervise 6 PhD students

Current Research Projects

Creativity with empathy and autonomy in the D&T classroom

Empathy in education

Back to top


Demetriou, H. (2023). Empathy can be taught at school - and it can lead to more creative thinking. The Conversation, 19th April.

Demetriou, H. (2023). Learning how to recognise and share emotions. Blog for EmpathyLab: 11th April:

Demetriou, H. (2022). Remembering Professor Jean Rudduck. The Knowledge. Faculty of Education community e-newsletter, University of Cambridge. 11th February 2022, Edition 59

Demetriou, H. & Nicholl, B. (2021). Empathy is the mother of invention: emotion and cognition for creativity in the classroom. Improving Schools.

Demetriou, H. (2019). More reasons to listen: learning lessons from pupil voice for psychology and education. International Journal of Student Voice, vol 5.

Demetriou, H. (2018). Empathy, Emotion and Education. Palgrave MacMillan Press.

POSTnote (2018). Developing non-academic skills. Shipton, E., & Bermingham, R. (eds.). Houses of Parliament: Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, no. 583.

Demetriou, H. (2013) (2nd edition; 1st edition 2009). 'The case study'. In Wilson, E. (ed) School-based Research: A Guide for Education Students. London, Sage.

Demetriou, H., Wilson, E. & Winterbottom, M. (2013). 'Perfection in teaching...settling for excellence'. In M. Evans (ed.) Teacher Education and Pedagogy: Theory, Policy and Practice. Cambridge University Press. The Cambridge Teacher Series.

Demetriou, H. & Wilson, E. (2012). It's bad to be too good: the perils of striving for perfection in teacing. Procedia: Social and Behavioural Sciences, 46, 1801-1805.

Wilson, E., Demetriou, H. & Winterbottom, M. (2012). The quest for perfection in teaching, Science Teacher Education, 64, 40-52.

Demetriou, H. & Wilson, E. (2010). Children should be seen and heard: the power of student voice in sustaining new teachers. Improving Schools, 13, 54-69.

Demetriou, H. & Wilson, E. (2010). Emotion and cognition in teaching and learning: implications for new teachers. Leadership in Focus. Autumn issue.

Demetriou, H. & Wilson, E. (2010). Student voice revisited: its power in sustaining new teachers. Schools Research News. Department for Childtren, Schools and Families (February issue).

Wilson, E., Demetriou, H. & Winterbottom, M. (2010) Climate change: what needs to be done in order to motivate and sustain new science teachers, Science Teacher Education 57, 22-27.

Demetriou, H. (2009). ‘Accessing students’ perspectives through three forms of consultation’ (chapter 6). In Cook Sather, A. (ed) Learning from the Student’s Perspective: A Sourcebook for Effective Teaching. Paradigm Publishers.

Demetriou, H., Wilson, E. & Winterbottom, M. (2009). The role of emotion in teaching: Are there differences between male and female newly qualified teachers’ approaches to teaching? Educational Studies, 35, 449-473.

Demetriou, H. & Wilson, E. (2008). The psychology of teaching: a return to the use of emotion and reflection in the classroom. The Psychologist, 21 (11) 938-940. The British Psychological Society. (November issue)

Demetriou, H. & Wilson, E. (2008). Synthesising affect and cognition in teaching and learning. Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal, 12, 213-232. Published online-first, and can be viewed at the journals website:

Demetriou, H. & Hopper, B. (2007). ‘Some things are fair, some things are not fair and some things are not, NOT fair’: young children’s experiences of ‘unfairness’ in school (p. 167-192). In Thiessen, D. & Cook-Sather, A. (eds.) The International Handbook of Student Experience of Elementary and Secondary School. Springer Science.

Wilson, E. & Demetriou, H. (2007) New teacher learning: substantive knowledge and contextual factors. The Curriculum Journal, 18, 213-229.

Demetriou, H. & Hay, D. (2004). Toddlers’ reactions to the distress of familiar peers: the importance of context. Infancy, 6, 299-318.

Demetriou, H. & Rudduck, J. (2004). Pupils as researchers: the importance of using their research evidence. Primary Leadership Paper: Teaching as a research informed profession, 11, 31-34. For the National Association of Head Teachers.

Demetriou, H. (2003). Pupils’ views about friendships and schoolwork. Improving Schools, 6, 10-19.

Rudduck, J. & Demetriou, H. (2003). Student perspectives and teacher practices: the transformative potential. McGill Journal of Education, 38, 274-288.

MacBeath, J. Demetriou, H., Rudduck, J. & Myers, K. (2003). Consulting pupils: A toolkit for teachers. Pearson Publishing.

Demetriou, H. & Rudduck, J. (2001). Transforming our perceptions of pupils. ESRC/TLRP Newsletter, schools edition.

Doddington, C., Bearne, E., Demetriou, H. & Flutter, J. (2001). ‘Testing, testing, testing...can you hear me?’ Can year 3 pupils tell us anything we don’t know already about assessment? Education 3-13 The Professional Journal for Primary Education, 29, 43-46.

MacBeath, J., Myers, K. & Demetriou, H. (2001). Supporting teachers in consulting pupils about aspects of teaching and learning, and evaluating impact. Forum, 43, 78-82.

Jones, B., Jones, G., Demetriou, H., Downes, P. & Rudduck, J. (2001). Boys’ performance in modern foreign languages – listening to learners. London: CILT.

Demetriou, H., Goalen, P. & Rudduck, J. (2000). Academic performance, transfer, transition and friendship: listening to the student voice. International Journal of Educational Research, 33, 425-441.

Dunn, J., Cutting, A.L. & Demetriou, H. (2000). Moral sensibility, understanding others, and children’s friendship interactions in the preschool period. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 18, 159-177.

Hay, D.F., Castle, J., Davies, L., Demetriou, H. & Stimson, C.A. (1999). Prosocial action in very early childhood: links with gender and problematic behaviour. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 40, 905-916.

Hay, D.F. & Demetriou, H. (1998). ‘The developmental origins of social understanding’. In A. Campbell & S. Muncer (eds.), The Social Child. Psychology Press.

Selected Conference Proceedings

Demetriou, H. (2012). Presented a paper entitled: It's bad to be too good: the perils of striving for perfection in teaching at the 4th World Conference on Educational Sciences (WCES-2012) in Barcelona 2nd-5th February as part of ongoing research with Elaine Wilson on sustaining new teachers, funded by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Gatsby Technical Education Projects: Supporting Opportunities for New Teachers’ Professional Growth.

Cook-Sather, A., Demetriou, H. & Flutter, J. (2010) Book Launch: Learning from the Student’s Perspective: A Sourcebook for Effective Teaching, dedicated to Professor Jean Rudduck.

Wilson, E. & Demetriou, H. (2006). New teachers' perspectives on their early years of teaching. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Warwick, September.

Macbeath, J., Demetriou, H., Rudduck, J. & Myers, K. (2005). Promoting and sustaining a culture of students as researchers Poster presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Glamorgan.

Rudduck, J., Arnot, M., Bragg, S., Demetriou, H., Fielding, M., Flutter, J., MacBeath, J., McIntyre, D., Myers, K., Pedder, D., Reay, D. & Wang, B. (2005). Consulting pupils about teaching and learning. Research Briefing 5, (London, TLRP).

Demetriou H. (1994, 1996, 1998). Paper and poster presentations at Annual Developmental Psychology conferences of the British Psychological Society.

Findings from research projects discussed, on request, with ‘Teachers’ TV’, schools and parents.

Helen Demetriou

image of staff member