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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. The module will give you insights into approaches for supporting children's learning across the whole primary curriculum, including the importance of play, creativity and talk. You will also focus on learning and teaching in the curriculum areas of English, maths and science.

Through studying the module you will acquire:

  • knowledge of the nature of primary education, current issues and new developments
  • 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 inclusive and anti-racist practice in schools
  • understanding of supporting wellbeing for primary staff and children
  • an appreciation of the complementary nature of home and school learning and the role of parents and the caregivers 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

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 18 study topics presented in two books and online; interactive online tasks and materials; a website to structure and guide each week of study through resources including audio-visual material, an online module guide, online forums and the module Assessment Guide.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

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. This module provides online tutorials. Each tutorial offers insight into the module content and assessment and is an opportunity for you to work with your peers. Although not compulsory, attendance at tutorials will help you consolidate your learning. 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.

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 (E103) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
No examination

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