Cooper & Elton-Chalcraft: Professional Studies in Primary Education, 3e

The following chapters have supplementory information, click on the topic to reveal the information.

Chapter 1: History of Education

This chapter extension provides further details on key education policy legislation.

Key legislation for classroom practice

Beginnings of State Education

Before 1870 there had only been slow growth in formal education. Education was mainly a private activity, with wealthy parents sending their children to fee-paying schools. Others used whatever local teaching was made available. A Committee of the Privy Council was appointed in 1839 to supervise the distribution of government grants for education. From 1857 to 1902 the Vice-President of the Committee of the Council on Education, the equivalent of the Secretary of State for Education today, led educational policy.


The ‘Balfour’ Education Act 1902: Local Education Authorities

By the end of the 19th century, the number of radical political movements had increased. These took education seriously and real debates about schooling in Britain started to happen. The ‘Balfour’ Education Act 1902 saw the creation of Local Education Authorities (LEAs). They took on the responsibility for elementary and secondary schools as well as the maintenance of board and voluntary schools. This included responsibility for the secular curriculum.


The Fisher Act 1918: education until 14

The Fisher Act, in the Lewis Report of 1917, proposed that the school leaving age be raised to 14, with attendance for a minimum of 8 hours a week. It was not until the Act of 1918 that the recommendations where partially acted upon and the school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14. There was also the opportunity for education by day release.


The Hadow Reports, 1923 to 1931: primary education

Sir Henry Hadow produced six reports between 1923 and 1931:

  • The Differentiation of the Curriculum (1923)
  • Psychological Tests of Educable Capacity (1924)
  • The Education of the Adolescent (1926)
  • Books in Public Elementary Schools (1928)
  • The Primary School (1931)
  • Infant and Nursery Schools (1933)

The Education of the Adolescent (Hadow 1926) recommended school transfer at age 11 and led to the establishment of primary schools for children aged 5–11. Despite this being put forward in the 1920s, it was not until the 1944 Education Act that this happened in reality. The Hadow reports on The Primary School (1931) and Infant and Nursery Schools (1933) started to consider what primary education should be. Unfortunately, at that time, it was seen ‘in terms of cheapness, economy, large classes, obsolete, ancient and inadequate buildings, and so on’ (Galton et al. 1980 p. 33), rather than focusing on an educational system aiming to benefit young children. However, there was a feeling that the importance of child development was becoming recognised. Nevertheless, the recommendation for similar funding for primary and secondary schools has still not been implemented.


The Butler Act of 1944

It was actually the Norwood Report of 1943 that put forward the notion of three types of secondary school and the tripartite system, which was embedded in the 1944 Education Act. Rab Butler, President of the Board of Education, was a radical reformer of education and managed to shake up the whole of the education system with his Education Act of 1944. Discussions had taken place between the government, church, all political parties and educationalists. However, Labour won a landslide election victory in the post-war election and it was Clement Attlee’s Labour government, not Rab Butler, who was left to implement this far-ranging Act.


The Cambridge Review

The Cambridge Primary Review is the first comprehensive review of English primary education for 40 years, written over six years, and is based on extensive consultation and analysis of research evidence. As a result, it makes radical suggestions about how all aspects of primary education might be changed. It is intended to be a discussion document to inform future developments. To what extent new governments will respond to these recommendations we shall see but the engagement with them will keep discussion alive. A recent government promise to replace centralisation with self-determination does not bode well for nuanced, informed and in-depth debate. And the concentration of power at the centre for 20 years cannot easily be unpicked.

Centrally determined versions of primary education may be all that many teachers know. Yet education is full of polarised dichotomies: the child/the subject, skills/ knowledge, standards/breadth, government/local education authorities/schools, what children learn/how children learn. They are all important, but how do we weight them?

Part 1 of the Cambridge Review is based on a huge survey of what members of society think about current primary education and what they would like in the future. Part 2 is based on 31 research papers and makes recommendations on the purposes and values of education, the curriculum and the learning environment. It did not give a prescriptive curriculum as the National Curriculum had, but suggested eight domains which would embrace national and local components, designed to give schools more flexibility.


The Rose Review

The Rose Review was more of a government report. The key features of the new curriculum were to be:

recognising the continuing importance of subjects and the essential knowledge, skills and understanding of them, providing a stronger focus on curriculum progression, ensuring that by the age of 7 children have a secure grasp of literacy and numeracy skills, strengthening the teaching and learning of information and communication technology (ICT), providing greater emphasis on personal development through a more integrated and simpler framework, building stronger links between the Early Years and the Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1, and between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3, offering exciting opportunities for learning languages for 7–11-year-olds. The Rose Review had six areas of learning, which developed from the EYFS areas and led into Key Stage 3. Schools would have control over teaching methods and pedagogy; teaching content additional to the statutory National Curriculum; how the curriculum is organised and described, for example as subjects, topics or themes; time allocated to each subject and the length of each lesson and assessment for learning, and over assessments and tests. (DFCPS 2009)

Neither of these Reviews was adopted. The Rose Review was due to be implemented by September 2011; as Labour lost the election of 2010, the Conservative–Liberal coalition government has reverted back to the National Curriculum until it introduces and makes statutory its own education policies.

Implications of legislation for classroom practice: an overview (1820 to the present)

Classroom practicalities

The classroom environment has moved a long way from chalk and slate in the 1800s. Gone too are the philosophy and strategies and classroom organisation of the 1950s when pupils sat in rows, often in order from 1 to 40 – or more – based on periodic teachers’ tests, often in classes which were ‘streamed’ by ability.

The Plowden Report (1967) talked about ‘integrated’ and ‘blocked’ periods and the choices the teacher had about when to teach the whole class, groups or individuals. No longer did teachers stand in front of a blackboard or teach pupils from behind a central desk. Children no longer sat in silence all day. Teachers were encouraged to interact with the pupils. By the 1980s, teachers’ desks were out of fashion and put to one side in the classroom rather like a base, or even removed.

The choices are still there, with interactive whiteboards, carpet areas, choice of teaching style – all of which form the personalised and rich philosophy of individual teachers.

Reports, reviews and education Acts had demanded that teachers be flexible and adapt their philosophy. However, the pressure of the National Curriculum has, arguably, imposed constraints. Worrying about league tables has, for many teachers, diminished creativity. But, as teachers, we have a wealth of experience and views as to what works and does not and this liberates us, in spite of constraints, to develop into the teachers we personally want to be.


Reflective task: Central control or free schools?

Put a tape across the room marked at 1-metre intervals. Label one end ‘centralised education’ and the other ‘free schools’. Take it in turns to make a statement about the degree of state control of education you think there should be and why, then stand on the appropriate place along the continuum line. After each statement, anyone on the line may move in either direction if their opinion has changed.



Barnard, H. (1961) A History of English Education from 1760. London: University of London Press. Available at:

David, M.E., Fergusson, R. and Meighan, R. (1985) Review of Green Paper: Parental Influence at School (Cmnd 9242). British Journal of Sociology of Education 6(2): 231–42.

Dent, H.C. (1968) The Education Act, 1944: Provisions, Regulations, Circulars, Later Acts, 12th edn. London: University of London Press.

Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) (2009) Independent Review of Primary Curriculum Final Report. Nottingham: DCSF.

Galton, M., Simon, P., and Croll, P. (1980) Inside the Primary Classroom. London: Routledge.

Gillard, D. (2007) Education in England: A Brief History. Available at:

Gordon, P. (1991) Education and Policy in England in the Twentieth Century. London: Woburn Press.

Morris, M. (ed.) (1988) Education – the Wasted Years? 1973–1986. London: Falmer Press.

O’Day, R. (1982) Education and Society, 1500–1800: The Social Foundations of Education. London: Longman.

Sallis, J. (1994) Free for All? A Brief History of State Education. Campaign for State Education,

Stephens, W.B. and Brewer, W. (1998) Education in Britain, 1750–1914. Basingstoke: Macmillan.


Chapter 2: Philosophy of Education and Theories of Learning: Supplementary material on neuropsychology

Material related to cognitive neuroscience


This section aims to give you a flavour of the emerging discipline of cognitive neuroscience, what it involves, what it aims to do, what it has achieved and its potential for contributing to our understanding of teaching and learning in the future.

Neuroscience is a relatively new discipline encompassing neurology, psychology and biology. Neuroimaging measures electrical changes in the brain when someone is thinking. This is deepening our understanding of very complex processes underpinning speech and language, thinking and reasoning, reading and mathematics and will, with time, help us identify and analyse successful pedagogy, to design educational curricula and explore the processes of teaching and learning.

Cognitive neuroscience may make possible the early identification of special needs and assess the delivery of education for special needs, compare the effects of different kinds of educational input on learning and lead to an increased understanding of individual differences in learners. However, it is important to be aware that current brain science technologies complement rather than replace traditional methods of enquiry. Further information about neuroscience in education can be found at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, ( Neuroscience uses a variety of techniques, such as event related potentials (ERPs) to measure changes in children’s brain activity. ERPS are tiny variations in electricity measurable from the scalp to monitor timing in brain activity and interactions among mental processes, when someone is thinking or processing information. Further, fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), which is being increasingly used with children, makes it possible to study the location of activity in different parts of the brain. However, such techniques only show us the biological changes taking place in the brain. (We cannot ‘see thinking’.) So we need a psychological model to help us to relate the biological processes to the thinking processes.

In 2000 Uta Frith and Sarah-Jayne Blakemore reviewed the neuroscientific findings which might be of use to education as a first step to defining interdisciplinary research areas of collaboration with educationalists (Teaching and Learning Research Programme [TLRP] directed by Andrew Pollard). In 1999 an international project on Learning Sciences and Brain Research was also launched at the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This aimed to review the implications of recent brain research for policy. In 2002–2006, this project focused on literacy, numeracy and lifelong learning.

Possible implications for classroom practice

The implications of neuroscience research into the effects of learning for classroom practice are in their infancy but here are examples of some thought-provoking early findings.


This is a difficulty in understanding simple number concepts and problems in learning number facts and procedures. Tests for dyscalculia do not rely on a child’s educational experience as standardised arithmetic tests do, but on, for example, measuring the time taken to count objects or to order numbers. Neuroscience suggests that dyscalculia is caused by abnormalities in the parietal lobe. It seems that formal mathematics relies on our ability to understand rules and procedures, linked to language abilities. However, a different part of the brain, connected with a more ancient ability shared with animals enables us, from six months, to differentiate between large and small numbers of items. This may underpin our ability to formally grasp exact differences and procedures. Dyscalculia may be linked to these pre-mathematical abilities. Insights from brain imaging research are already leading to interventions into how we develop our mathematical ability.

Other studies have found that calculation abilities appear to be related to non-numerical skills including visual-spatial cognition and language. A deeper understanding of the inter-play between numerical and spatial cognition will probably influence teaching methods in the future.


Mathematics and memory

‘Working memory’ refers to our capacity to hold a limited set of information in our attention while we are processing it. Neuroscience makes brain activities while working on mathematical procedures visible. For example, when a group of adults started to learn long multiplication, the areas of the brain being used changed during the calculation. At first, the area associated with working memory was used as students explicitly followed the processes they were learning but after practice this activity was replaced by activity in another brain area as processes became more automatic. This finding resonates with classroom observations of the difficulties learners have when faced with new problems. In this case, it is helpful for pupils to ‘show their working’ as this lessens the demand made on working memory. Understanding the processes involved in new learning in a subject may help us to develop new approaches in other subjects.



Dyslexic children typically have phonological deficits (the ability to recognise and manipulate component sounds in words) which predicts reading acquisition. Phonological awareness appears to be focused in the same part of the brain as the part which supports letter-to-sound recoding and is implicated in spelling disorders. Dyslexic children show reduced brain activity in this area, for example when deciding whether different letters rhyme. Targeted reading remediation increases activity in this area. Recordings of event-related magnetic fields (MEG) in dyslexic children suggest that there is atypical organisation of the right hemisphere. ERPs also suggest that the phonological system of a dyslexic child is immature rather than deviant.


Creativity and drama

A study with trainee teachers showed that producing a story that includes the words ‘dolphin’, ‘jewel’ and ‘print’ produced more activity in the areas of the brain associated with creative effort than ‘artist’, ‘brushes’ and ‘paint’. The stories using the unconnected words were judged better than the second set of words. The teacher trainers and students then considered implications for classroom practice. This is a good example of collaboration between neuroscience, psychology and education.

Beware of ‘neuromyths’

Scientific findings can easily be translated into misinformation. Here are some examples:

Left brain/right brain differences

There is some hemispheric specialisation. For example, aspects of language processing generally take part in the left hemisphere. But there are massive cross-hemisphere connections and both hemispheres work together in every cognitive task so far explored with neuro-imaging.


‘Brain Gym’

This suggests that neural mechanisms can be influenced by specific physical exercises. For example, if children put pressure on their ‘brain buttons’ between their first and second ribs, they can re-establish the brain organisation required for reading and writing. Or ‘cross crawl’, promoted to activate left/right brain function. These exercises may appear to work, but if so we need to know how and why.



It is important to be aware of developments in neuroscience and of their implications for education, teachers and pedagogical research. But it is also important to remember that many factors influence successful learning. These include teachers, the curriculum, the school, families, homes and communities. This will always be true.


Additional reflective task

In groups or individually, decide on a metaphor for a school, which reflects your philosophy of education (e.g. a school is a department store). Develop the metaphor as a concept map or spidergram. Share and discuss your metaphors.


Cambridge Centre for Neuroscience in Education:

Neuroscience and Education: Issues and Opportunities – A Commentary, the Teaching, Learning and Research programme:

Further reading

Carr, W. (ed.) (2005) The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Philosophy of Education. London: Routledge.

This discusses what is meant by the philosophy of education and what it tries to achieve, provides some understanding of the kinds of questions that constitute current philosophy of education and how these questions are being addressed by leading educational philosophers.

Curran, R. (ed.) (2007) Philosophy of Education: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.

This is an excellent collection of readings on fundamental questions of educational practice and policy and current debates about education, which underpin Professional Studies in Primary Education.

Daniels, H. and Edwards, A. (2003) in The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Psychology of Education. London: Routledge.

Davies, I., Gregory, I. and McGuinn, N. (2002) Key Debates in Education. London: Continuum.

This gives case studies which illustrate debate about current issues between educational philosophers, aiming to include readers in the debates.

Flavell, J. (1963) The Developmental Psychology of Jean Piaget. Princeton, NJ, Toronto and London: D. Van Nostrand.

This is an excellent synopsis of the work of Jean Piaget.

O’Connor, D.J. (1957) An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

This is a short classic, illustrating the philosophy of education of the 1950s and examining the links between philosophy and theory.


Journal articles

Several studies (e.g. Kirk and Wall 2010) have explored ways in which teachers have negotiated the radical changes in the profession in recent years through the notion of ‘teacher resilience’. Teachers have attempted to retain the characteristics of caring, vocation and ‘child-centredness’ in primary education which were developed by academics and practitioners as the most effective way to educate children, following the Plowden Report (1967) and which have been gradually eroded since the 1980s by political policy initiatives from central government, which profoundly contradicted established ways of working: an emphasis on valuing teachers based on ‘competencies’; an insistent emphasis on quantitative measurement of results for teachers and pupils; and the increasing bureaucratic and commodified nature of education.

Kirk, J. and Wall, C. (2010) ‘Resilience and loss in work identities: a narrative analysis of some retired teachers’ work–life histories’, British Educational Research Journal 36(4): 627–41.

Other studies (Swann et al. 2010) have explored what teachers understand by their professionalism, their philosophy of education. They suggest that, while coherent thinking about the work of teachers is clearly desirable, teachers’ professionalism should not be and is not a simple, unitary concept but overlaps concepts of diversity and complexity.

They have found that expertise is not simply based on knowledge of educational theory, but on theoretical knowledge applied to practice and reflection on that practice. Recent prescription of the content, organisation and processes of teaching and learning and political vision of what works for all children and teachers rather than teachers’ own enquiry into their practice has treated theory as definite and conclusive rather than provisional and cumulative. Reforms have shut down the spaces in which teachers can think for themselves, to theorise and generate their own practice.

Swann, M., McIntyre, D., Pell, T., Hargreaves, L. and Cunningham, M. (2010) ‘Teachers’ conceptions of teacher professionalism in England in 2003 and 2006’, British Educational Research Journal 36(4): 549–71.



Frith, U. and Blakemore, S.-J. (2000) The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education. Oxford: Blackwell.


Chapter 7: Reflective Practice in the Early Years: Provision for 3- to 5-Year-Olds in School

The issues discussed in Chapter 7 can often be observed in practice by watching video clips available via the internet. Here we recommend some particular videos, to exemplify points raised in the chapter.

'Too Much Too Soon'

Watch the video clip entitled ‘Too Much Too Soon’ (

What are the main points of contention raised by this video? Are you in support of this position or do you disagree? What are the reasons for your position?

Other websites, which are of interest as they advocate for children, include:

Early Years Provision in Sweden

The following clip demonstrates the approach taken to early years provision in Sweden:

Make a list of the similarities and differences you can see between this and English provision.

Attempt to Raise Ofsted Grade

Watch this reception teacher, who has been identified as ‘Good’ by Ofsted, as she attempts to raise her grade to ‘Outstanding’. In particular, listen to the advice she receives from the experts:

Look back at the task in Chapter 7, which asks you to draw a diagram showing the dominance of the three cultures of home, early years provision and primary school culture. Draw a diagram about this video, showing how you witness these three cultures in action.

European Approaches

Watch this video clip about European approaches:

What are the important messages about theory, practice and research included in this clip? Have you been influenced by these approaches? If so, how would you develop ideas from this video in your own practice?

Learning and Development

Watch this video clip:

What are children learning about school that may affect their attitude and disposition to learning? What have the adults had to do in order to deliver this high-quality practice?

Developing Transitions

Watch the following video clip about supporting young children and their families through transitions:

What skills do the practitioners exhibit in supporting children and families in this video? Reflect on the skills that you can bring to this professional area of your work.


Chapter 13

A list of stories which raise thinking questions for use in stimulating classroom dialogue





Thinking questions


Black Beauty

Sewell, A.


A story told through the eyes of a horse.

Do animals really think? Should we put animals before ourselves?

Goodbye Mog

Kerr, J.


An old cat dies and a new kitten arrives.

What is death? Do pets have rights?


Browne, A.


A family takes a trip to the zoo.

Do animals have feelings? What is a boring animal?


The Hungry Caterpillar

Carle, E.


A caterpillar eats junk food and feels ill.

What do we need to live? What is beauty?

The Most Wonderful Egg in the World

Heine, H.


Three hens quarrel over who is the most beautiful.

What does beautiful mean? Is it a physical feature – or personality?

Sleeping Beauty

Grimm, J.


A princess sleeps for 100 years.

Are all princesses/royalty beautiful?

The Ugly Duckling

Lane, S. and Kemp, M.


A cygnet thinks he is an ugly duckling.

What is beauty?


Napoli, D.J.


A modern adaptation of The Ugly Duckling.

What is beauty? What is acceptance?


Island of the Skog

Kellogg, S.


Mice sail to Skog to escape cats and dogs but they become the predators.

What does freedom mean? Is home the same for everyone?

The Lion and the Mouse

Orgell, D.


A mouse saves the life of a lion.

Bullying, helping people

Is it Because?

Ross, T.


A story which asks questions throughout.

Why do people bully? Is jealousy linked to bullying?

Willy the Champ

Browne, A.


A gorilla is bullied because he is no good at anything.

What is bullying?

Is it okay to fight?


Where the Wild Things Are

Sendak, M.


A boy’s adventures in a ‘wild place’ and the effects on him.

Is time always the same?

Why are we nasty to people we love?


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Dahl, R.


Charlie wins a ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Can you love an object?

Is life a competition?

Why does there have to be a winner?


Bill’s New Frock

Fine, A.


A boy wakes up one morning to find he is a girl.

Are boys and girls treated differently?

Do adults have different expectations for boys and girls?

Caterpillar’s Wish

Murphy, M.


A caterpillar wishes he could fly.

Is it good we are all different?

Do we always want what others have?

Disney’s Brother Bear

Randall, R.


Two communities each believe the other is ‘wrong’.

Race, religion.

A need to be understood


McKee, D.


A multi-coloured elephant doesn’t want to ‘stand out’.

Is it OK to be different?

Do looks matter?

Emma – Understanding her Wheelchair World

Wright, C.


This book is about a child called Emma, who is a fun-loving girl who enjoys teasing her dad, going swimming with her brother Andy and playing chasing games. The only different thing about Emma is that she has Spina Bifida and moves around in a wheelchair.

Are disabled people different from non-disabled people?

Is it fair to be disabled?

Is it OK to be Different?

Mckee, D.


Elmer is a patchwork elephant.

Is it alright to be different?

Should we judge someone by appearance?

One Dad, Two Dads

Valentine, J.


Two children compare notes about their dads, one of whom is homosexual.

Should we be excluded for being different?

What does friendship mean to us?

Something Else

Cave, K.


A creature is isolated because he looks different.

What does it feel like not to have an identity?

The Blue-Haired Boy

Toye, N. and Prendiville, F.


A new boy at school refuses to take his hat off.

Should everyone be different?

If we were all the same, would life progress?

The Rainbow Fish

Pfistern, M.


A fish is different because he has beautiful shiny scales. Eventually he gives some of these away to the other fishes.

Difference, beauty, friendship

Threadbear (Kipper Stories)

Inkpen, M.


A teddy bear feels unloved because he has too much stuffing and his squeaker doesn’t squeak.

Should we celebrate being different?

Do people still love us even if we aren’t perfect?

What am I?

Carter, N. and D.


A mouse tries to work out just what he is.

Is it okay to be different?

Tiger Pig at the Circus

Ryan, J.


A hybrid tiger/pig is shunned at the circus.

Can we celebrate differences?

Can being different be a good thing?


The House that Crack Built

Taylor, C.


This book introduces children to the topic of drugs.

What drives young people to drugs?

What gives people the right to force drugs on young ones?


Five Little Fiends

Dyer, S.


This is a story about five fiends who live in statues.

Can we survive without some elements – of the environment, for example?


Baker, J.


A series of pictures of an outdoor scene, showing changes taking place.

Why should we care what happens in the future?

(We’ll be gone.)



Browne, A.


Mrs Piggott does everything for her family, until they realise they are too dependent.

Can we all be equal?

Do families work as a team?

Why is the woman portrayed as running the house?


Tig and Tag’s Island

Blathwayt, B.


Two sheep run away from a farm at shearing time.

What makes some people do something they know they shouldn’t?


Bad Habits

Cole, B.


This book is based on a young girl who has a number of bad habits. These habits disgust other parents and embarrass her own. When she has a party, monsters mess up the house and eat all the food.

Is it wrong to have bad habits?

Do these make you a bad person?

Badger’s Parting Gifts

Varley, S.


An old, much-loved badger dies.

How do memories influence the way we feel?

What makes us special to others?

Don’t be Scared, Barnaby Bear

Dematons, C.


A little bear finds himself in a new environment.

What makes us feel good?

Five Minutes Peace

Murphy, J.


This story focuses on a family of elephants, the mother of which wants ‘five minutes peace from you lot’.

What is peace?

Is peace a state of mind?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Rowling, J.K.


How Harry feels at Hogwarts.

Is fame a good thing?

What is difference?

The Huge Bag of Worries

Ironside, V.


A young girl carries all her worries around with her in a big bag.

Does everybody have worries?

Should you always talk about your worries?

Nobody Likes Me!

Weldon, F.


A young boy has a bad temper and people don’t like him.

Emotions, feelings

Sophie and the New Baby

Anholt, L.


A new baby is due.

Where do babies come from?

Why do they get all the attention?

The Wonderful Journey

Geraghty, P.


Sam and his Grandma make imaginary journeys.

Can memories keep someone alive?

The Other Facts of Life

Gleitzman, M.


A 12-year-old boy cares about issues no one else seems to care about.

Why do people want to ignore such ‘big’ issues?


After the Storm

Butterworth, N.


An oak tree is blown down, destroying animal homes.

What makes a friend?

Why do natural disasters happen?

How is a community created?

English Roses



Three friends are nasty to the new girl in school.

What is friendship?

Should we judge on looks?

Can we love our friends?

Handa’s Surprise

Browne, E.


An African girl takes fruit to her friend but it is stolen.

Why do we need friends?

Would you steal from someone?

Kensuke’s Kingdom

Morpurgo, M.


A man is afraid to go home after WW2 in case his family is dead.

What is a true friend?

Should we judge someone before we get to know them?

Laura’s Star

Baumgra, K.


A little girl longs for a friend to share her secrets with.

Why do we need friends?

The Fight (from Thinking Stories 3)

Cam, P.


This story is about Joshua and his friend Neil. Neil often gets into trouble and Joshua gets drawn in, although he doesn’t enjoy it.

What should he do?

Does what other people think matter?

Was Joshua right to help his friend?

The Little Prince

De St. Exupery, A.


An airman, forced down in the Sahara Desert, encounters a little prince from a small planet.

What’s the difference between reality and make-believe?

Can we learn from a make-believe story?

The Lonely Scarecrow

Preston, T.


A scarecrow is sad because animals don’t want to come near him.

Are things that look scary necessarily unfriendly or unkind?

The Pain and the Great One

Blume, J.


The conflict between a brother and sister.

Do we sometimes dislike people we love?

Does fair treatment mean treating everyone the same?

Voices in the Park

Browne, A.


We see an event through four different people’s eyes.

Should we judge by appearance/social class?

What is a friend?

What are Friends For?

Grindley, S.


A fox asks his friend what friends are for.

Do we need friends?

Your Place or Mine

Cam, P. (ed.)


A bear and a fish become friends in spite of the problems.

Can very different people be friends?


The Big Concrete Lorry

Hughes, S.


A family build an extension with the help of their neighbours.

Is it right to want more when others have less?

The Glass Cupboard

Jones, T.


A story about a magic cupboard, from which you can get anything – but you have to put something back.

Why was it not used to help people?

Why do people want to be rich?

The Smartest Giant in Town

Donaldson, J.


A giant gives his clothes away to others who need them.

Do we get more pleasure from giving or receiving?

Why do we help others?

The Three Robbers

Ungerer, T.


Three robbers steal a child but eventually build a castle for unwanted children.

Why do people steal things?

How do we know someone cares for us?


Hamish and the Missing Teddy

Munro, M.


Hamish and Finn are friends but Finn flattens Hamish’s cake and runs away.

Should we always be honest?

Should we run away from our troubles?


An Angel Just Like Me

Hoffman, M.


An Afro-American boy wonders why all angels are blonde with pink skin.

Diversity/A desire to be like others


Browne, A.


How a boy sees the world and perceives ‘change’.

What does change mean to you?

Does everyone see things in the same way?

Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthlets

Wilson, J. and Ross, T.


Aliens learn what baby humans (earthlets) are like.

What defines humans?

How would we define ourselves?

Fantastic Mr Fox

Dahl, R.


A fox loses his tail.

What is ‘myself’?

Where is the ‘I’ located?

Halibut Jackson

Lucas, D.


A little boy suffers from extreme shyness.

Is being shy a good or a bad thing?

Is it wrong to be different?

The Little Red Hen

Bryant, S.C.


A hen asks her friends to help make bread but no one wants to play.

Is it okay to be selfish sometimes?

Should we always help our friends?

Willy the Wimp

Browne, A.


Willy hates being afraid of everything.

Can we change who we are?

Why do some people bully others?

You are Special

Lucado, M.


Punchinello is sad because the Wemmicks tease him.

Why do people hurt others?



Hughes, S.


A child is heartbroken when he loses his beloved toy, ‘Dogger’.

Why do we get jealous?

Why do we become attached to something?

John Browne,

Rose and the

Midnight Cat

Wagner, J.


A child’s relationship with animals.

Do we have a right to be jealous?


Little Red Riding Hood

Wilson, D.


This version of the story is told from the wolf’s point of view.

Should we judge by appearances?

Do we think we know the truth – so never ask?

Albert Le Blanc

Butterworth, N.


A bear is new to the toy shop and everyone thinks he looks sad.

Should we judge people by how they look?

How can we tell how people are feeling?

Is listening important?

Paper Bag Princess

Munsch, R.


Two children are betrothed until things go wrong.

What is evil?

What makes someone a hero?

the Bear

Lewis, K.


No one buys a bear in a toy shop. (

Should you try to change to make people like you?


Not Now Bernard

McKee, D.


A child feels ignored.

How does it feel to be ignored or neglected?

The Big Box

Morrison, T.


Three children are put in a box with things adults think they will like.

Should you have the freedom to be yourself?

What makes us happy?

What is freedom?

The Red Tree

Tan, S.


A day in the life of a small, anonymous child.

Are we in control of our own destiny?

Does anyone really listen to children?


Barnaby’s Surprise

Currey, A.


Feeling alone but then discovering you have friends and family.

Loneliness, friendship


Deacon, A.


An alien feels he doesn’t belong on Earth.

What makes someone lonely?

What makes someone different?

Daddy Will You Miss Me?

McCormick, W. and Eachus, J.


A young boy’s father moves away to Africa to work.

Do we ever stop missing someone?

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

The Lonely Tree

Halliday, N.


A new tree is lonely when its friend, the old oak, dies.

Where do we go when we die?

Can a new life ever replace an old one?


Browne, A.


A toy gorilla becomes real.

Is work important?

What is important in life?

The Selfish Giant

Wilde, O.


A selfish giant eventually relents.

Selfishness, death, loneliness

Little Teddy Left Behind

Mangan, A.


A teddy is left behind when the family move.

What is happiness?

What is loneliness?


I’ll Always Love You

Lewis, P.


A bear breaks his mother’s bowl.

What is love?

Does love ever run out?

Mama, Do You Love Me?

Joosse, B.M.


A young girl questions how much her mother loves her.

What is love?

Can love stop?

What makes us sad?

No Matter What

Gliori, D.


A story about unconditional love.

Does love last forever?



Coleman, M.


A young tortoise doesn’t want to hibernate.

Why do other people’s opinions bother us?

What is normal?


Don’t Worry William

Morton, C.


A young bear wakes up and decides to be naughty.

Can familiar places become unfamiliar?

Can place affect feelings?


Francis the Scaredy Cat

Boxall, E.


A cat is scared of the dark.

What are you scared of?

Is it okay to be scared?

I am Not Going to School Today

Harris, R.H.


A boy is scared of going to school because he doesn’t know anyone. His mother lets him take his teddy and he feels better.

Why is it scary to be alone?

How do teddies make you happy?

The Park in the Dark  Waddell, M.  1996 The park becomes frightening at night. 

What makes us feel safe?

What is fear? 


The Two Giants

Foreman, M.


Friendship and conflict between two giants.

Why is it important to share?

Why do people act violently when angry or upset?

Dinner Ladies Don’t Count

Ashley, B.


A little boy confides in a dinner lady.

Is it better to talk about your problems?


If I Wasn’t So Small

Simon, C.


A song from Piglet’s Big Movie.

What is small?

Do you have to be noticed to be helpful?

The Snail and the Whale

Donaldson, J.


A snail hitches a ride on a whale.

How big (important) are we?


Come On, Daisy!

Simmons, J.


A duckling finds himself lost.

Is talking to strangers OK?

Should you always listen?

Elmer and the Stranger

McKee, D.


A child meets a stranger.

Who or what is a stranger?

When does a stranger become a friend?


The Borrowers

Norton, M.


A tiny family live under the floorboards and ‘borrow’ what they need to live from the owners of the house.

What does it mean to own something?

Can we steal something that isn’t owned?

The Teddy Robber

Beck, I.


A giant steals teddies from children.

Is it right to steal?

Do people steal for different reasons?


Who’s at the Door?

Allen. J.


A retelling of the three little pigs.



Chicken Licken



A Chicken Licken tells his friends the sky has fallen on him and leads them all into trouble.

Is it acceptable to lie?

Should we believe everything we’re told?

The Gruffalo

Donaldson, J.


A mouse meets a ‘Gruffalo’.

Is it right to lie?

Do you have to look mean to be mean?

Are all lies bad?

The Gruffalo’s Child

Donaldson, J.


A sequel to The Gruffalo.

Should you confront your fears?

Should you believe what people tell you?


Chapter 14: Using persona dolls and 'The Island' by Armin Greder

KS1 and Early Years Foundation Stage: Using Persona Dolls

Following on from the initial session, introducing Jeetinder the Sikh Persona Doll, this lesson focuses on religious and cultural ceremonies.

Naming Ceremony

In this session the focus is the story of the Naming ceremony of Jeetinder’s cousin. Jeetinder explains that at the Gurdwara last Sunday his cousin Amanpreet’s baby sister was named.

Everyone crowded into the Gurdwara – it was very exciting because Manjit, Tejpreet and I had new clothes for the ceremony. My aunty Aneet Kaur and my Uncle Raminder were very proud and Amanpreet had a smile which filled up the whole of her face. She was wearing a lovely new green shalwar and kameez. (Ask what these words mean – tunic and trousers.) What do you wear for special occasions?

The Guru Granth Sahib was opened and we all held our breath in anticipation as whispered rumours spread through the hall that the first letter of the baby’s name was to begin with ‘A’! It was amazing, the same letter as her sister. Uncle Raminder said he knew exactly what name to give the baby – Amritpal because he’d wanted that for Amanpreet but aunty Aneet had said she wanted Amanpreet.

Sometimes parents can’t think of a name straight away so they go away and decide later but Amanpreet’s new sister was called Amritpal straightaway. We sang some songs at the Gurdwara and I prayed to God that Amritpal would grow up to be a good friend to me and Amanpreet – I’m looking forward to when she’s 2 because they get interesting at that stage. I don’t like it when they’re babies, they just have smelly nappies and are sick! I think Amritpal’s a good name. After that we had a big party with lots of food. Do you have parties when your babies are named? (Class talk about different naming ceremonies, e.g. christenings, dedication ceremonies, etc.)

Note: most Sikhs do use their caste surnames like Nijar, Mann, Atwal or Grewal as well as the Singh and Kaur denoting male and female. Where is your family name from?

Amrit ceremony-initiation into the Khalsa

My sister and her friends went through the Amrit ceremony last month. My cousin Jagdeep didn’t want to go through Amrit; I think because his dad didn’t. But they are still Sikh. You can tell because if you’ve gone through Amrit then you have to keep the promises; for example, uncut hair. Jagdeep and his dad cut their hair. Manjit, my sister and her friends all decided they wanted to. They went into a big tent and received some sugar and water.

What do the class know about different initiation ceremonies and what rights and responsibilities do they bring? Again, ensure the RE focus is kept – Learning ‘about’ and Learning ‘from’. (QCA 2004)


[Especially suitable for KS2 children.] My aunty Aneet and uncle Raminder like to tell us of their wedding day. They hardly knew each other at all before the wedding day but in our culture many Sikhs say it’s more like the marriage of two families. Families are really important to many Sikhs. Aunty Aneet says it was the marriage of two families: my uncle Raminder’s family and my dad’s and her family. Aneet is my dad’s sister. My dad met Raminder and his parents and he thought he’d make a really good husband for Aneet. Aunty Aneet is Dad’s favourite sister so he would never have encouraged someone horrible to marry her.

Uncle Raminder and his family are really nice. They own a shop like we do and so Aunty Aneet and Raminder have something in common! Manjit, my sister was worried about having a husband chosen for her who she didn’t know; she wanted to marry someone she fell in love with. But Aneet told her that our mum and dad love her so much and would choose someone they thought was right for her and she and Raminder grew to love each other. Anyway lots of Sikh girls and boys have a big say in who they marry.

I was only little but I just remember Aneet and Raminder’s wedding. They walked around the Guru Granth Sahib four times. I prayed that they would have a happy life together. And they are certainly having that – they’ve got Amanpreet and Amritpal who are my two lovely cousins! Have any of you been to a wedding? What happened?

At the end of the lesson, ensure there is a plenary which brings together all the AT 1 learning ‘about’ and some of the AT 2 learning ‘from’ religion (QCA 2004), which the children have been engaged in. Think about how Persona Dolls could be used further, to stimulate enthusiasm for a particular topic and combat racism.

In Early Years Foundation Stage and KS1 use a Reception-aged doll, like Amanpreet Kaur (Jeetinder’s cousin who is 4 and a half, she has a new baby sister – Amritpal).

For KS2 use Jeetinder aged 8 and talk more about his elder brother Tejpreet and his elder sister Manjit. Persona Dolls should only be used at upper KS2 if the children have been used to them in KS1 or lower KS2.

Ideas for continuing sessions

  • Learn about Sikhism – ask Jeetinder to bring in artefacts from home.
  • Perhaps other ‘real life Sikhs’ in the school might be willing to share what they believe or parents might be invited into the classroom.
  • Check what is in the RE Agreed syllabus and use this as a guide. Especially learn about the 5 Ks (uncut hair is one) because this was the problem Jeetinder expressed.
  • If there is not a Sikh in the class or school look on the Internet or visit a gurdwara to ask a Sikh visitor from a nearby community into school.
  • Present some aspects of the work in a school assembly.
  • Make links with PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) and other curriculum areas as much as possible.


The point of this session is for the children to see Jeetinder as a child ‘just like them’ who likes playing on playgrounds, gets up in the morning and washes and gets ready for school, and likes chips. BUT Jeetinder is a Sikh who worships God and takes his religion very seriously.

It is a good idea to supplement the Persona Doll sessions with other resources, such as Poster Packs, audio and visual resources and artefacts.

Further reading

Elton-Chalcraft, S. (2005) ‘Anti-racism: an attainment target for RE’, RE Today Spring pp. 28–29.

Elton-Chalcraft, S. (2010) ITE Sessions Using Persona Dolls. Available at:

Persona Doll Training (2010) available at (accessed 2.9.10).


QCA (2004) Religious Education: The Non-statutory National Framework. London: QCA.


KS2: ‘The Island’: A text to promote racial and cultural understanding


A lost and desperate man is washed up on an island where he is confronted by forbidding walls and hostile islanders. He is allowed to stay but because he is different he is treated as an outcast. He is finally set adrift, in his burning raft. The islanders return to their heavily fortified, narrow existence.


  • Racial and cultural difference
  • Racism
  • Effect of immigration, including refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Human responses and role of community

English & ICT Links

  • Using talk to initiate and extend thinking
  • Using reading to evaluate and critique
  • ICT – communicate, collaborate and share information using online technologies with people and audiences within and beyond the school. Each page of the story could be scanned onto a computer, so that it can be projected onto a large screen.

Personalised Learning

For children with EAL, encourage use of first language, particularly in small-group work, to support understanding of the learning outcomes. This will be most effective in the first two sessions which use talk to underpin the learning.

For children with specific learning needs, some lesson objectives may need to be adjusted; however the activities use inclusive approaches, like talk, group work and computer technologies, to ensure high-quality learning for all children.

Preparatory Activities

Ask children to think of 2–4 aspects of their lives at home, school and in their communities that they really like and wouldn’t want to be changed by anyone new coming in. Provide them with ‘bricks’ made from brown sugar paper, to write their ideas on. Stick the bricks on a large mobile display board, or hang from a line suspended across the room, to symbolise a wall.

Learning objectives

Whole-class activities

Small-group activities

Outcome and assessment opportunities

Clearly convey ideas to others; listen and act on what has been discussed.

Discuss the front cover; ask for predictions. Read the first part of the story and discuss initial feelings. In pairs children discuss the man and his feelings. Write these on one side of the wall.

Use drama activities to explore the actions and motives of the villagers.

Freeze frames – children adopt pose of a villager.

Hot-seating – teacher adopts role of man, taking questions from villagers.

Link responses back to the wall emphasising that although these are natural responses, they are not positive and supportive.

Understand that acceptance of difference and compassion overcome fear and hatred.

Discuss and take predictions about the ending of the story.

Use appropriate drama methods to understand differences between people and develop compassionate attitudes.

Give each group a photocopy of a double-page spread so that, in total, only half of the story will have been told.

Ask them to circle language, facial expressions and gestures by the villagers, which express fear, dislike, anger.

Using their pages, each group dramatises their part of the story.

Stop the drama to read the end of the story. How could the story end more positively? What would each villager need to do? How could they act together?

Groups discuss then write positive suggestions on their pages. Decide how to put their ideas together to create a joint class ending.

Understand that acceptance of difference and compassion overcome fear and hatred.

Link back to the wall, explaining that our thoughts and feelings may stay the same but we need to ensure our actions are positive.

What changed your thoughts and feelings? What effect did it have on the man?

Read and evaluate stories of racial and ethnic diversity.

Understand the importance of knowing personal identity.

Introduce the notion of diversity, emphasising that the UK has many different racial and ethnic peoples. Use a video story to discuss identity and diversity. E.g. Yonis’s story will highlight key areas of family, school, faith/values and personal hopes, 

In pairs children re-visit Yonis’s story to identify similarities and differences to their own culture and ethnicity. Some children could follow the simpler format in Amber’s story. 

 Plan own identity stories to include: family, school, faith/values and personal hopes.

Value own and others’ identities, recognising that diversity is part of a positive and healthy school and wider community.

Homework: Children gather information and write identity stories.

Synthesise ideas, using ICT, by combining a variety of information.

Children share identity story plans and organise into appropriate pairs for recording.

Pairs support each other to tell stories using one or more of the following technologies: Digital cameras to take portrait photos, attached to their stories written via e-mail. Video or Webcam.

Take steps to promote understanding, equality and co-operation.

Share a few of the digital stories and evaluate how the activity affected their self-esteem. Add these positive ideas to the wall.

Communicate and collaborate with others using appropriate ICT.

Use one of the children’s digital stories to discuss the importance of identity, self-esteem, racial and cultural diversity, leading to positive co-operation. Link to The Island.

Children are supported in sharing their stories with others by e-mail to another class, or to another school, if such a partnership has been set up. Use of a webcam will enable live stories to be told.

Using the PowerPoint program, place all the children’s contributions on a continuous loop presentation to use in assembly, on parents’ evening or at another appropriate event.

Re-visit the wall to evaluate how feelings and emotions can be positive or negative and it is our actions which need to be channelled positively to build support, equality and co-operation.

Further Reading These video clips provide the basis or starter for discussions or whole projects. Select ‘Primary’ then ‘PSHE’ or ‘Citizenship’ for topics on diversity, difference and ‘Race’. Comprehensive and up-to-date website to help find a wide range of children’s books. Also has teacher resources.

Knowles, E. and Ridley, W. (2006) Another Spanner in the Works: Challenging Prejudice and Racism In Mainly White Schools. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.

Leicester, M. and Johnson, G. (2004) Stories for Inclusive Schools. London: Routledge. Stories to help children unlearn prejudice and explore difference.


Greder, A. (2007) The Island. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.