May 16th saw the final three research surveys by the Cambridge-based Primary Review published. These three interim reports form part of thirty research surveys, commissioned by the Review team to be used as evidence for the final report. The Primary Review "reserves its own judgement" on any conclusions reached by the reports "pending its assessment of the full range of evidence".
The reports are entitled:
- Learning and Teaching in Primary Schools: insights from TLRP (2/4)
- Primary Schools: the built environment (6/1)
- Classes, Groups and Transitions: structures for teaching and learning (9/2)
Research Survey 2/4 is a synoptic survey of evidence from the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP), with evidence taken from nineteen projects focused on primary schools or pre-school settings. The findings are grouped into themes such as The use of ICT to enhance learning and Environments for better learning. The authors identify ten "principles for practice" that reiterate features of effective teaching and learning. These are followed by critical commentaries. They hope that "the ten principles which we have identified will be helpful in evaluating ... policy proposals. They could be applied to the policies of any government department or agency, to a school, or to a classroom". The authors also identify areas where more research needs to be done, for example in looking at the role neuroscience can play in informing understanding in these areas.
In looking at the built environment, Survey 6/2 focuses on four areas: the primary school as a built space; noise; temperature, heating, humidity, air quality and ventilation; and lighting. The authors suggest that there is insufficient research data within this area, which may be "problematic" with respect to policy and decision making, and they recognise that the built environment "has a key role in meeting several of the five Every Child Matters outcomes: be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution; achieve economic wellbeing".
Research Survey 9/2, in focusing on structures for teaching, will be of particular interest to tutors, trainees and mentors. Reviewing research mainly from the UK, the authors devote specific sections of the report to:
- Structured grouping practices
- Within-class grouping
- Transitions: pre-school to primary, transition within the primary phase and transition within the primary phase and transition from primary to secondary
- The educational effects of class size differences
They put forward a range of implications for policy and for practice. Within the classroom, for example, they suggest "varying pupil within-class grouping for different activities". With respect to class size, one suggestion is that "resources could be further targeted ... on achieving classes smaller than 25 for those children with most ground to make up in literacy".
Further details can be accessed below through the press report, the research briefings overview and the full reports. The TTRB will review many of these reports in full.