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.
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.