module specification

AE5019 - From Elementary Schooling to 'Good Primary Practice' (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title From Elementary Schooling to 'Good Primary Practice'
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
222 hours Guided independent study
78 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Snapshot 1 - 1875 (500 words equiv.)
Coursework 20%   Snapshot 2 - 1925 (500 words equiv.)
Coursework 20%   Snapshot 3 - 1975 (500 words equiv.)
Coursework 20%   Snapshot 4 - 2025 (500 words equiv.)
Coursework 20%   Reflection (with portfolio)
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

The module aims:

• To offer students opportunities to understand primary education through historical themes of continuity, change and difference;
• To demonstrate the historical nature of the primary school as a commonplace phenomenon in the 21st century and thereby to suggest that it will be subject to change in the future;
• To propose a social constructionist understanding of schooling and educational institutions;
• To explore the language of pedagogical practice in relation to the goals of education and the meaning of childhood;
• To identify curriculum, pedagogy and practice as the focus for debate.


The module will address the following topics and themes:

• Precursors to the 1870 Elementary Education Act and their contribution to mass education and schooling;
• The historicality of educational provision and its relation to processes of continuity and change;
• Landmark legislation for schooling, social welfare and its constructions of the child and childhood;
• The impacts of psychology, developmentalism, ‘new’ pedagogic theories and concerns over social welfare found in McMillan, Freud, Isaacs, Piaget, Dewey, Hadow, Plowden et al on the construction and meaning of ‘good primary practice’;
• Standards, new curricula and strategic pedagogies;
• ‘race’, culture, gender, social class and difference in the primary classroom;
• Parents, governors, the market and the decline of local authority control;
• Responses to child poverty and austerity;
• Performance and international comparisons;
• The future of primary education.

The module will make full use of the built environment, museums, archives and other resources to support students’ learning and will introduce students to the use of artefacts and material contexts.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and teaching will be transacted through a blended pedagogy with an emphasis on workshop and collaborative learning in formal scheduled sessions as well as lectures and guided thematic seminars as appropriate.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will:

1. Be able to identify and articulate links between educational theory, policy, legislation and institutional practice;
2. Describe the factors that combined to construct primary education from the elementary school tradition;
3. Identify and account for the challenges faced by traditional ‘good primary practice’ and recognise that they are situated within an environment of continual change;
4. Outline a personal pedagogical position drawing on the examples and evidence explored in the module.

Assessment strategy

Taking an historical approach, students are asked to explore the emergence of Primary Education through four snapshots focusing on the lives and experience of imagined or real pupils aged 9 years and at school circa: 1875, 1925, 1975, and 2025.  They are asked to draw on the historical narrative presented across the lectures and seminars and expand upon this through the use of artefacts, visual media, documentary sources, published histories, oral history and testament.   This will be supported and informed by use of museums, archives and other appropriate resources.

Each snapshot is marked as a single item and formative feedback offered at each stage.  The first three snapshots together with snapshot four are presented (unaltered) in portfolio form with short reflection on what historical study contributes to professional understanding.


Core reading

Blundell, D., (2012), Education and Constructions of Childhood, London: Continuum
Jones, K., (2015), Education in Britain: 1944 to the present, London: Polity
Maguire, M., Wooldridge, T. and Pratt-Adams, S., (2006), The Urban Primary School, Maidenhead: Open University Press

Additional reading

Abrams, L., (2016), Oral History Theory, London: Routledge
Alexander, R. (Ed.)(2010) Children, their World, their Education: final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review, London: Routledge
Bartlett, S. and Burton, D., (2016)(Eds.), Introduction to Education Studies, London: Sage
Carroll, M. and McCulloch, M., (2014), Understanding Teaching and Learning in Primary Education, London: Sage
Cunningham, H., (2006) The Invention of Childhood, London: BBC Books
Hohenstein, J. and Moussouri, T., (2017), Museum Learning: theory and research as tools for enhancing practice, London: Routledge
King, B. and Lord, B., (2015), The Manual of Museum Learning, London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Matheson, D., (2014), An Introduction to the Study of Education, London: David Fulton
McCulloch, G., (2005), The Routledge Falmer Reader in History of Education, London: RoutledgeFalmer 
Nelson, J. and Wilkinson, R., (2016), The Historium Activity Book (Welcome to the Museum), London: Big Picture Press
Perks, R. and Thomson, A., (2015), The Oral History Reader, London: Routledge
Pratt-Adams, S., Maguire, M. and Burn, E., (2010), Changing Urban Education, London: Continuum International
Race, R., (2015), Multiculturalism and Education, London: Continuum International
Ritchie, D.A., (2014), Doing Oral History, Oxford: OUP
Stephens, K., (1994), Learning Through Art and Artefacts, London: Hodder
Thomas, G., (2013), Education: a very short introduction, Oxford: OUP