Resources on Independent Learning

How to Promote Independent Learning in the Primary Classroom

Dana Tuffelmire

Allowing students to take ownership and initiative in their learning gives them the confidence needed to succeed as lifelong learners. Creating independent learners requires a structured classroom with clear expectations, routines and procedures. The teacher must create an atmosphere where children feel confident as learners, secure enough in their environment to take risks and comfortable enough with routines to work independently and help others. Children in the primary classroom can actually handle a lot of responsibility if they are explicitly taught what to do and when to do it.

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Teachers TV: Independent Learners: Primary by Teachers TV – Teaching Resources – TES 

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What is independent learning and what are the benefits for students? – paper

Bill Meyer, Naomi Haywood, Darshan Sachdev and Sally Faraday (2008)  London: Department for Children, Schools and Families Research Report 051.

How is independent learning viewed by teachers?

‘Independent Learning’ is often linked with other approaches to learning such as ‘personalisation’, ‘student-centred learning’ and ‘ownership’ of learning. Discussion of independent learning frequently arises in the context of important issues such as student-teacher roles and relationships, and the role of information and communications technology (ICT) in learning.

The aim of this literature review was to identify reliable, robust and relevant research to provide a detailed picture of independent learning and its possible impact on students. The review found a number of different terms to describe independent learning, the most common reflecting the idea of ‘self-regulated learning’. The review highlighted some evidence of benefits to students particularly in the form of improved motivation and better management of their learning. The authors of the review emphasised that independent learning does not merely involve students working alone and stressed the important role teachers can play in enabling and supporting independent learning.

Read in full here:

Click to access Whatisindependentlearningandwhatarethebenefits.pdf

Promoting Independent Learning In The Primary Classroom 

Wiliams, J. (2003) Buckingham: Open University Press.

From birth, human beings are striving to make sense of the world. They learn through interaction, modelling first hand experience and independent action. Most children arrive at school with the notion that being independent and having the desire to take responsibility has been seen, in their homes, as a good thing. However, what often happens is that responsibility may be denied them in school and further bids for independence are viewed as negative behaviour. This book argues that independence in the classroom should be seen as beneficial for learners and also for teachers. Jill Williams makes a compelling case for a climate in which decision making is valued, where children are enabled to solve problems and where children and adults respect each others point of view, arguing that this will be a climate in which independence flourishes. In turn the benefits in terms of teaching and learning will be apparent for both the children and the teachers.

Webinar: What is Character Education? Bill Lucas

In the first of a series of webinars creator of the Expansive Education Network Professor Bill Lucas asks and answers these questions.


CIRL Webinar – Schools in England Today – A Health Check

On Tuesday 5 May, a few days before the Election, Professor Bill Lucas led a discussion about what children should be learning at school.

What should an educated 19 year old be able to do and know?

Drawing on the argument of his recent book with Guy Claxton –Educating Ruby: what children need to learn – Bill will argue that we have become too focused on tests and not left enough space for the development of character.
He was joined by Mike Grenier of the Slow Education movement; James Stanforth, Head of Digital Education at Eton College’s Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning; and Jonnie Noakes, Director of the Centre.

The link below contains a file that you can download. The video file is around 250mb in size. Please be aware the recording quality is quite poor

CIRL Webinar – Schools in England Today – A Health Check

Austin’s Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work – Models, Critique, and Descriptive Feedback

Ron Berger from Expeditionary Learning demonstrates the transformational power of models, critique, and descriptive feedback to improve student work. Here he tells the story of Austin’s Butterfly. 1st grade students at ANSER Charter School in Boise, ID, helped Austin take a scientific illustration of a butterfly through multiple drafts toward a high-quality final product.

This video is one of 27 videos that accompany Expeditionary Learning’s new book, Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-Engaged Assessment. For more information visit:


Learning through Landscapes: Basic Need

The Basic Need for School Places challenge is one that is currently affecting a large number of schools across England and has the potential to affect school across the UK. For those schools that already have restricted space, the practicalities of taking on more pupils becomes an even harder and more complex one.

At LTL we are particularly concerned that many schools will feel that the only option they have is to place additional permanent or temporary classroom buildings onto their school play grounds or playing fields. This solution, whilst alleviating the capacity issue, means that many children are left with little or no space in which to learn and play outdoors.

With the help of our patron and supporter Sir David Attenborough we are looking to help schools find innovative solutions without reducing the footprint of the school’s outside spaces.

We have created guidance and support documents to help all those affected by these issues.


Video: Action research – School Matters series

Three case studies reveal the growing use of action research, a process where teachers assess teaching and learning to improve both teacher and student learning, in this whole-school video for primary and secondary teachers.

Each of these case studies highlights the way in which action research projects can work within a school and provides a valuable insight into the problems that various schools have faced.

St George’s Primary School in Birmingham started an action research project due to the high level of newly arrived children at the school. Their research led to the development of a welcome pack that gave children a defined focus for action.

At Colmore Infant and Nursery School in south Birimingham, reading at KS1 had been identified as a development priority for teachers. Their research project led to the introduction of a succesful bookmark scheme that encouraged more reading at home.

At Douay Martyrs School in Middlesex, head of Year 11 Simon Cheale is engaged in action research as part of his school-based MA in education. His research is centred on a motivational scheme for improving boys’ performance at GCSE level. – free login required to view