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'Lego Professor of Play' appointed by Cambridge University

Intricate Lego building has taken off in recent years, pictured, but can Professor Paul Ramchandani, inset, discover the secrets of the brick? Credit: Morris Zwi/ Davor Puklavec/ PA

Lego may have originally been designed for kids but these days the intricate art of building with these colourful little bricks is far from child's play.

Don't believe us? Then just ask Cambridge University who have just appointed a new 'Lego Professor of Play'.

Announcing Professor Paul Ramchandani had bagged the 'dream job' , the university said the child psychiatry expert will lead a team "examining the importance of play in education globally".

The team will be setting up a long-term study looking at how children are encouraged to play at home and school and how this benefits them Credit: Carmen Jaspersen/DPA

Professor Ramchandani is expected to take up his role at Cambridge's centre for research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (Pedal) in January 2018.

But despite his quirky title it won't all be fun and games for the professor as his research - funded by a £4 million grant from the Lego Foundation - will have a very serious aim.

The intention of the role is to explore how the brick can play a role in ensuring "children are equipped with 21st century skills like problem-solving, team work and self-control".

Examining the importance of play in education globally the team will work to devise and evaluate play-based teaching approaches.

They will also set up a long-term study looking at how children are encouraged to play at home and school and how this benefits them.

Professor Ramchandani said: "Everyone has an opinion about what role play should have in early education and there is some wonderful research, but there are also big gaps in our knowledge.

"We need the best evidence possible in order to inform the vital decisions that are made about children's education and development and I look forward to taking that work forward together with colleagues at Cambridge."

Professor Ramchandani currently leads the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research Unit at Imperial College, London.