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The University of Southampton

EDUC1035 Primary Education: Critical Observations

Module Overview

This module will incorporate critical observation and analysis of diverse aspects of primary education. You will develop your knowledge and understanding of the values and theories of primary education that underpin current practice. Your time in school might normally include lesson observations, discussions with teachers, meetings with staff, working with individual or small groups of pupils/students in classrooms alongside teachers/tutors, or examination of school policy documents. An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) with Child Barred List check is required for this module and must be in place before the start of the second week. PLEASE NOTE: DBS can take up to ten weeks to obtain; failure to meet this requirement will result in you having to choose an alternative module. It is your responsibility to obtain the DBS clearance at your own cost. Please contact the Education Student Office at: regarding application.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the underlying values, principles and practices relevant to primary education
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of societal and organisational structures and purposes of primary education, and the possible implications for learners and the learning process
  • Systematically analyse educational concepts, theories and issues of policy in a primary context
  • Select and apply a range of relevant theoretical and research-based evidence (primary and secondary sources) to extend your knowledge and understanding
  • Organise and articulate opinions and arguments in speech and writing using relevant specialist vocabulary


The module will incorporate critical observation and analysis of diverse aspects of primary education, locating issues in their social, cultural, historical and political contexts, with particular attention to problematizing familiar practice and exploring underlying values and associated tensions. Topics normally covered in this module will include: - The day-to-day life of a primary school setting - Current state of play in terms of the primary curriculum - Historical overview of the development of the primary curricula - Cross-cultural approaches to primary education - Significant recent legislation and its impact - Shifting values underlying primary education - Approaches to inclusion - Classroom patterns of interaction - Social contexts for learning - The positioning of children as pupils and learners - Being a primary teacher: role and identity - The role of assessment in primary school learning - Critical reflection on own educational history - Accountability structures in primary education

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module is taught through a mix of lectures and seminars along with directed reading and suggested additional research. Typically, there will be an interactive lecture and seminar each week with the exception of the weeks during your visits to a primary education setting. You will be expected to carry out critical observations in primary school settings (a minimum of 8 hours).

Independent Study118
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Cremin, T and Arthur, J (2014). Learning to teach in the Primary School. 

Children, their World, their Education. Final report andrecommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review. 



Group presentation


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s)  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase reading texts as appropriate.


You will be responsible for any travel costs. You need a Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check. You will be responsible for the associated costs of a DBS. For up to date information about DBS costs see: Please contact the Education Student Office ( as soon as possible regarding application form and further details.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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