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Learning and teaching in the primary years

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This key introductory module covers a range of themes relating to primary education including children’s learning, inclusive education, play and creativity, home-school liaison, and the curriculum areas of English, mathematics and science. You will also develop the knowledge and skills needed to work collaboratively and equitably in a range of settings. These include evaluating and communicating information effectively to others, using digital technologies effectively for study, online collaboration and to support your continuing professional development, planning and managing time, identifying strengths and areas for development, and seeking and learning from feedback. This module will give you a sound foundation for further study relevant to a variety of roles within education.

What you will study

You will develop your understanding of the ways in which teachers teach, the curriculum that guides children’s learning, the activities that children do, and professional decision making in schools. In particular, the module will give you insights into learning and teaching in the curriculum areas of English, maths and science. However, you will also learn about approaches for supporting children’s learning across the whole primary curriculum.

Through studying the module you will acquire:

  • knowledge of the nature of primary education today
  • insights into how children learn, and what adults can do to promote their learning
  • an understanding of the principles that underpin primary education policy and classroom practice
  • an awareness of some current theories and research that support primary education
  • insights into issues relating to race equality and social inclusion and the implications for practice
  • an appreciation of the complementary nature of home and school learning and the role of parents and the family in children’s education
  • skills related to academic reading and writing, including studying effectively online
  • the ability to plan for and review your own academic and professional learning

Entry requirements

You must be 18 or over.

There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

However, we strongly advise you to arrange a practice-setting experience in a formal education setting1 for children aged between 3 and 12 – for example a school, outdoor learning centre or museum – for at least 10 days to observe learning and teaching and gain exposure to a practice context.

If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.

1Access to settings will require you to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria, in your country, to work with children. You and your setting are responsible for ensuring you meet these requirements, not the OU.

What's included

Print and online study materials including two module readers, 19 study topics presented in two books and online; a website where you can access a range of additional resources including audio-visual material, an online module guide, online forums and the module Assessment Guide.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll have a tutor who will guide you through the study materials, mark and comment on your written work, and advise and support you where necessary. If you’re new to the OU, your tutor can provide additional support with your study skills. Group tutorials that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend will be provided at points throughout the module. Where your tutorials are held, and whether they’ll be face-to-face or online, will depend on the distribution of the students taking the module in your geographic area. These will be supplemented by a dedicated tutor group forum on the module website.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E103 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Learning and teaching in the primary years starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2023.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
No examination
No residential school

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