Subject to change: should primary schools structure learning around subjects or themes?

This report poses three questions:

• Do all the most successful primary schools structure learning around traditional subject disciplines?
• Should primary schools set aside their natural enthusiasm for thematic approaches, and focus instead on strong, subject-based teaching?
• Should we be exerting top-down pressure on primary schools to deliver learning in this way?

It examines evidence from recent reviews into primary education, from the
growing body of research on what works in curriculum development, and from
case studies of high performing schools and school systems.

Read the full report.

The presentation by Julie McCulloch, Policy Manager at the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning and author of the report, can be viewed here and the videos are below and photos from the event can be found here.

3 case studies to stimulate your own thinking and reflection about science learning in your school.

The Science Leaders Innovation Cluster in Stockport provide insight into enriching the primary science curriculum. Read 3 case studies of the impact of outdoors, responsive assessment and developing personal capabilities on children’s learning in science.

How can we encourage the development of scientific enquiry skills in primary schools?
Stockport CS All Saints.pdf

If we focus on improving personal skills in science lessons, will it improve learning outcome?
Stockport CS Orrishmore & Bradshaw.pdf

What does a responsive, child-focused planning and assessment framework for Primary Science look like?
Stockport Great Moor Infants School.pdf

An A – Z Guide to Primary Science Active Teaching And Learning Approaches In Science

by Dr Lynne Bianchi & Rosemary Feasey
Sheffield Hallam University – Centre for Science Education

This booklet has been produced to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the original Active Teaching and Learning Project (ATLAS) which drew upon the expertise, experience and advice of teachers and educators from around the country in 1986. Much has changed in science education since then, yet many things have stayed the same.

Click here to preview

To obtain a full copy please e-mail Dr. Bianchi –

Poulner Infant School

Poulner Infant School has been developing it’s learning to learn strategies
over the last three years.  The staff have poulnerbeen inspired by INSET with Guy Claxton and attended courses on ‘Building Learning Power’.  As a direct result the school has created the unique Poulner Learning Heroes.  They have been designed to encourage pupils to develop skills for life. The learning heroes are interactive characters that demonstrate the learning habits of independence (Incy Independent), co-operation (Team Bee), problem solving (Solver Snail) and reflection (Better Beetle).  They are shared with the children through puppets, stories, real-life situations and celebrated weekly.
The learning heroes are part of the fabric of the school and are fundamental to the schools vision, which states ‘ Great Learning is at the heart of who we are, what we do and what we strive to achieve’

Poulner Infant School has recently joined the Expansive Education Network to develop teacher’s professional learning and research skills.  The teachers have developed individual small-scale enquiries, enabling them to explore issues, which will have a positive impact on the learners in their class.

Some of the projects are based around the following questions;

•    If children are challenged to try a new activity will it improve their ability to seek, enjoy and persevere at new experiences?

•    If teachers model the key vocabulary and language of initiating play and sharing will the children be able to use these skills during child initiated play?

•    If children are given a self-evaluation tool to assess their writing will they be more able to identify their strengths and weaknesses as a writer and set their own targets for development?

•    If children are taught a strategy to ‘look away’ during thinking time will it help improve the quality and quantity of responses to questions?

Many of the projects are works in progress and the impact is being monitored  with a variety of tools such as questionnaires, attitude surveys, observation forms and work samples. The research will be written up and shared within  and beyond the school community.
The school recognises that everyone is a learner.

The school website can be accessed at