Not playing around: Cambridge University has appointed a Lego professor of play

Anna Schaverien
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No, it's not him
No, it's not him (Source: Getty)

Professor of play sounds like a child’s dream job, but thanks to Lego, an academic has landed the role at the University of Cambridge.

One of the UK’s top universities today announced Professor Paul Ramchandani as its new professor of play.

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Professor Ramchandani will head up the university’s research centre on play in education, development and learning, which was set up in 2015 after the Lego Foundation helpfully gave a £4m grant.

The Lego Foundation’s global head of research, Bo Stjerne Thomsen, said: “We’re excited that Professor Ramchandani will be taking the helm and join the efforts to underscore the importance of children’s learning through play.”

Getting the dream job is not child’s play

When the job was first suggested in 2015, there were more than a few people interested in taking up the exciting role, including a 10-year-old boy.

What made the position even more attractive was the average annual salary of £83,981 at the fourth best university in the world, according to the 2016 Times Higher Education rankings.

But applicants were warned that the ideal candidate needed an "outstanding research record of international stature and the vision, leadership, experience and enthusiasm".

Professor Ramchandani has spent 15 years researching child development and currently leads Imperial College’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research Unit.

Making policy through play

Despite the job’s amusing name, there’s a real gap in scientific research about how play fits in with a child’s early life and education.

Professor Ramchandani, who will be making the move from London to Cambridge in January, said: “We need the best evidence possible in order to inform the vital decisions that are made about children’s education and development.”

Cambridge’s newest professor will be sharing the centre’s research with international and national policymakers to ensure they take into account children’s right to play.

Professor of play isn’t the first of the Cambridge’s odd job titles: it has also advertised for a professor of innovation, and a doctor of chocolate.

Read more: Here's how Lego is threatening Christmas

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