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Supporting learning in primary schools

This OU level 1 module is appropriate for teaching and classroom assistants (paid or voluntary) working alongside teachers in primary schools, or if you’re working in a special school, hospital educational unit, or pupil referral unit where primary-aged children follow the National Curriculum. You’ll cover a range of themes including: the study of children’s learning; inclusive education; play and creativity; and English, maths and science. You’ll acquire a good knowledge of primary education, learn to work productively with teachers as team colleagues, and develop your ability to support children’s learning effectively.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

A thoroughly useful course covering all aspects of supporting children's learning. Being practice based makes it easier to see the...
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I enjoyed this course thoroughly particularly as it is based around specific activities in school which I found helped to...
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What you will study

This module 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 how best to support learning in the curriculum areas of English, maths and science. However, the module will introduce approaches that can be used to enhance learning across the whole curriculum. It will also help you to develop suitable practices when working with children as individuals, in small or large groups.

Through studying the module you should acquire:

  • knowledge of the nature of today’s primary schools and the structure and content of the curriculum
  • insights into the ways in which 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
  • academic skills related to writing, study and the presentation of an argument using appropriate forms of evidence
  • an ability to review your own academic and professional learning and be able to take steps to meet identified training and study needs.

Vocational relevance

This module is for teaching assistants and similar learning support staff (including volunteers) working in primary schools throughout the UK. Its content is directly relevant to learning and teaching in primary schools.

This module is a compulsory OU level 1 module in the OU Foundation Degree in Primary Teaching and Learning. This qualification will extend your skills in the classroom, develop your professional knowledge and expertise, and boost your career opportunities. Headteachers and teachers of schools where OU students have been based whilst studying this module speak highly of the knowledge, understandings and new skills that it provides.

Outside the UK

This module will be appropriate if you are working in a British Forces primary school or other primary school in Europe which follows a UK National Curriculum and uses English as the language of tuition.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will 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 are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor will be particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. Group tutorials that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend will be provided at points throughout the module. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of the students taking the module in your geographic area. These will be supplemented by a dedicated tutor group online forum on the 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).

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015 when it will be available for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning to help you progress to modules at OU level 2. You must be over the age of eighteen years at module start date.

Prior to beginning the module, it is desirable that you gain some experience of supporting primary-aged children (aged 4–11 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and aged 4–12 in Scotland) with their school learning. You also need to have some knowledge of how schools for primary-aged children work. Whilst studying the module you must be based in, or have weekly access to, a primary school or closely related setting, either as an employed teaching assistant or a volunteer helper working alongside teachers and supporting children’s learning in classrooms. This should be the equivalent of at least five hours per week. If you are in a nursery setting then you must work with children who are aged four years or above for this required minimum time during the week. You must have the agreement and support of your head teacher before embarking on this module as you will need to access school policies, be able to observe children, and have some involvement in planning activities for children with a teacher. It is important to make sure that you will be able to do these things,  especially if you are a volunteer. If you have any questions about the level of study, or access to a school which is required, please see our Frequently asked questions or speak to an adviser.

To work in a primary school or related setting you will need to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria and obtain the necessary criminal record clearance required for the setting and country in which you are working. It is the responsibility of you and your employer to ensure you meet these requirements, and not The Open University’s. You should contact the relevant agency in your country for more information if you are in doubt about your eligibility, or to find out more. Please see our Criminal record clearance document to find out who to contact in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact us.

Preparatory work

It is important that you have some experience of how UK primary schools function. This may have been acquired from work as a teaching assistant or through being a school governor, lunch time supervisor, a volunteer helper, or parent of a child attending a primary school. It is also desirable that you have experience of supporting primary-aged children with their learning, preferably as a teaching assistant but this may have been acquired through being a parent and supporting your own child’s home and school learning.

In order to work in a primary school you must meet the 'fit person' criteria mentioned in the Entry section above. Before registering, as stated above, you should also discuss your intention to study the module with your headteacher to seek agreement that you will be able to integrate the requirements of the module into your ongoing work. This module has been written with the knowledge of what most teaching assistants do in schools so it is designed to minimise any disruption to your normal school and classroom duties.

There is no essential preparatory work before the module starts. However, it is suggested that you become familiar with some or all of the policy documents for your school.  You could look at the educational supplements of daily newspapers like The Guardian and The Independent. You could also browse through the Times Educational Supplement which will help you to become acquainted with current issues in primary education. Many primary school staff rooms will contain these and other relevant publications.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £2700.00

Registration closes 17/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

October 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 29/07/2015.

What's included

Two module readers, written study materials including 14 study topics presented in two books and a website where you can access a range of resources including five online study topics, online audio-visual material, an online module guide, online forums and the Assessment Guide.

You will need

You will need an internet connection to use the website, access the Assessment Guide and participate in online forums. Discussions with other students and your tutor through the online forums are a very important form of additional support so everyone is strongly encouraged to participate.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available. For this module you will also need to install software provided by the OU on a disk or USB stick.

A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. You will be required to install Microsoft Windows specific software.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

We will take full account of your needs and make sure suitable choices of materials are available. The study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be difficult to read in this way.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.