If your school has received an invitation from Imperial College to participate in SCAMP, please get in touch if you have any questions, would like more information, or have misplaced your invitation pack.
If you would like to nominate a school to take part in SCAMP, please complete the form at the bottom of this page.
The SCAMP study will follow several thousand secondary school pupils across London from Year 7 through to Year 9, to investigate whether their use of mobile phones and other wireless technologies might affect their neurocognitive or behavioural development. SCAMP will be the largest study in the world to address this important research question.
In the UK, the majority of 11-12 year olds (70%) own a mobile phone and approximately 80% of secondary schools make use of WiFi. Scientists remain uncertain as to whether children’s developing brains might be more vulnerable than adults to radio wave exposures. SCAMP will be focusing on the ongoing development of cognitive functions in the brain during adolescence. Cognition is essentially how we think; how we make decisions; and how we process and recall information. It is linked to intelligence and educational achievement and forms the building blocks of the innovative and creative potential of every individual and therefore society as a whole. Current UK health guidelines advise children under 16 to limit their mobile phone calls, but this policy has not been updated for over a decade. This advice is based on the precautionary principle, given in the absence of available evidence. The SCAMP study will provide the evidence base with which to inform policy and through which parents and their children can make informed life choices.
This research will be led by Imperial College London in collaboration with Birkbeck, University of London and the Swiss Tropical Public Health Institute.
This study is commissioned by the Department of Health via the Research Initiative on Health and Mobile Telecommunications (RIHMT), an independent programme of research that is jointly funded by government and industry, and is managed through the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme.
All research conducted will have: insurance and indemnity cover from Imperial College London; ethical approval from an independent NHS Research Ethics Committee; and oversight from an independent scientific Steering Committee.
All secondary schools across London, both state and independent, and which have a large main intake in Year 7, are being approached for participation in this research study.
All pupils who will start Year 7 in September 2014 are eligible to take part in this study. It does not matter how often or how little the pupil uses a mobile phone, it is important that all types of mobile phone users join the study.
Taking part in this research simply involves your pupils completing one web-based cognitive assessment (e.g. simple attention and memory tasks) and questionnaire in Year 7 and one in Year 9. The total assessment (cognitive assessment and questionnaire) will take approximately 55 minutes. Your school will need to facilitate the assessment on school PCs/laptops with Windows (XP or later) or Mac OSX (version 10.4 or later) and internet connection. If you agree to your school taking part, the next steps will be:
1. Written permission by the Head teacher through an Agreement to Participate form (see enclosed).
2. Schedule a 1 hour session using IT facilities for each incoming Year 7 class to complete the computer based assessment sometime between October 2014 – May 2015. Year 7 pupils will need to undertake the assessment during school hours. The assessment requires invigilation by a teacher, together with a researcher, to ensure strict exam conditions. To simplify logistics for schools all pupils will complete the assessment.
3. Assist with mailing to Parents (August – October 2014): In collaboration with schools, parents of children starting Year 7 in September 2014 will be mailed a study pack (cover letter from head teacher, introductory letter from Imperial College, and study information leaflet). We will provide to schools a cover letter template (wording/logo to be customised), and pre-stuffed envelopes containing an introductory letter from Imperial College and study information leaflet (August-September 2014). As soon as list of pupils joining Year 7 is finalised, schools to mail merge parents’ names and address onto cover letter, print, add to envelopes and mail out. One reminder letter will need to be sent to parents who have not responded. Research funds are available to assist with costs of printing supplies and postage stamps. Professional assistance with printing/mailing logistics will be available if required.
4. Logistics (September 2014 – May 2015): A visit to the school will be arranged by a member of the research team, all of whom have DBS clearance, in order to train one of the school’s teachers on the children’s assessment application, including invigilation procedures.
5. Collection of detailed information on radiofrequency exposures in a small subset of the cohort (September 2015 – July 2016): A subset (10-20%) of the cohort (now in Year 8) of contacted schools, after provision of parental consent, will be asked to carry out an exposure validation assessment.
6. Follow up computer based assessment on the full cohort of participating pupils (October 2016 – May 2017): Schools will be re-contacted in year three of the study to schedule a 1 hour session using IT facilities for the same classes (now in Year 9) to undertake a follow-up cognitive assessment.
We will collect data on the pupil’s cognitive functioning (e.g. memory, attention, language understanding), behavioural symptoms (e.g. anxiety and hyperactivity), use of mobile phones and wireless technologies, and lifestyle. We might ask schools for information from the pupil’s educational record. Imperial College will ensure the research complies fully with the Data Protection Act 1998. All individually identifiable data will be dealt with in the strictest confidence. Data will be stored long-term on a secure computer network at Imperial College. Study results will be published following independent scientific peer review but no data individually identifying pupils or their schools will ever be published.
Study findings will be published in peer reviewed scientific journals. Key findings will also be shared with pupils, parents, and schools via newsletters and the study website. At the end of the study we will hold a presentation evening of study findings for all head teachers of participating schools and stakeholders, with live video feed via the study website for parents and pupils.
What should I do if I would like my school to participate, if I have any other concerns or queries that I would like to discuss with one of the research team, or if I would like any further information?
Please contact us via one of the following:
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
School of Public Health
Faculty of Medicine
Imperial College London, St Mary’s Campus
London W2 1PG.