module specification

AE5019 - From Elementary Schooling to 'Good Primary Practice' (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
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
60 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
168 hours Guided independent study
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Snapshot 1 - 1870 to 1939 ( 2800 words equiv.)
Coursework 50%   Snapshot 2 - 1945 to the Present Day - ( 2800 words equiv.)
Running in 2023/24

(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 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 explore the struggle between formal and progressive educational discourses for control over curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. 

Prior learning requirements



The module will address the following topics and themes:

• Precursors to the 1870 Elementary Education Act and their contribution to mass education and schooling;

• Landmark legislation for schooling, social welfare and its constructions of the child and childhood;

• The impacts of psychology, developmentalism, ‘new’ pedagogic theories and the ‘new’ sociology of education  found in McMillan, Freud, Isaacs, Piaget, Dewey, Hadow, Plowden, Bernstein, Bourdieu  et al on the construction and meaning of ‘good primary practice’;

• The struggle between formal and progressive discourses for control over values, purposes and practices;

•  Links between inclusive practices and the orientation of the state education system towards traditional or progressive practices;

•  The impact of neoliberal ‘New Public Management’ and human capital theory on state education;

• The relationship between state education, social mobility and economics.


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:

LO 1 – Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the motivations behind the setting up of the state education system.

LO 2 – Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the emergence of two dominant educational paradigms i.e. the formal and progressive discourses.

LO 3 – Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the relationship between state education, social mobility and economic growth.

LO 4 – Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the dominant discourses currently shaping state education.

Assessment strategy

Taking an historical approach, students are asked to explore the emergence of Primary Education through two snapshots focusing on key educational reforms from 1870 to 1939 and from 1945 to the present day. The word count for these snapshots will be presented as a suggested total of 2800. Each snapshot is marked as a single item and formative feedback offered at each stage.