A Brief History of the

Collaborative Learning Project

We believe that teachers are more creative and develop more engagingand exciting resources when they plan and work collaboratively inside and outside the classroom.

Our project was formally launched and funded by the Inner London Education Authority in 1983. It had grown from teachers working with the inspiration and support of Andrew Wilkinson, the coiner of the word "oracy", at University of Birmingham and Westhill College of Education in 1966, teacher action workshops supported by the State University of New York in Oneonta and Binghampton in the early 1970s and school focussed professional development initiated by the Inner London Education Authority in the late seventies. Our collaborative learning network became part of the teacher action research that led to the development of the National Oracy Project and the Language in the National Curriculum Project. Both LINC and the Oracy projects were forcibly closed down for political reasons in 1993, although colleagues continued to network informally. Ron Carter in Nottingham ensured that LINC resources continued to be available.

Interestingly, the project later became involved in the development and dissemination of the Department for Education Partnership Teaching Project with a focus on providing resources for the learning of English language within the curriculum and just as important, promoting teacher agency and teacher collaboration. The civil servants at DFE later ensured that we received further funding from the European Community and the opportunity to share and run training through Comenius funding.

Collaborative Learning has received no UK funding or support since 1989. It has survived because it was and remains a teacher owned network. Everyone is welcome to join. Activities to promote talk take time to make, but by sharing them and tweaking them, we hope to inspire others to work in similar ways. Talk was not made a priority in the literacy strategy and its survival in school remains precarious. Now that talk is once again (for the third time!) beginning to be recognised as a priority and recent research is even more supportive of its vital part to play in learning, we plan to expand our network and increase the number of activities online. We have a lot of activities in paper form developed in the 80s and 90s. We are revising these and making them available.

We want to provide interesting and creative ways for children to learn in classes, where many different languages are spoken, and where children are learning English while learning.

Our aim is to provide examples of group talk activities that will benefit all children, while at the same time provide opportunities for learning English. Collaborative activities are vital for children learning English, but at the same time other learners benefit in many ways. Children new to English need exposure to visually stimulating collaborative talk activities in short sessions throughout their learning. They also need to develop good social contacts in school and these activities are designed to make sure that everybody in the classroom works with everybody else on a regular basis.

Many teachers are now using the strategies for creating classrooms where first languages can be used in a similar way to support learning. We are now beginning to include these materials.

The activities we make available can be used as they are, or better still they can be adapted to fit into your planning. We also strongly hope they become templates for your own activities. Please don't just look at the activities available for your year group or subject area. All the activities can be easily adapted to any age group or any topic. When you have developed your own versions we hope you will share them; by either sending them to us, sending us a link, or posting them on similar sites.

For a more detailed analysis of collaborative learning please go to our questions and answers page. We have also provided a little A5 booklet with a summary of our aims which is best printed out because we hope you might want to use it for working with other teachers and you can also access our research and bibliography page here.

Lists of free downloadable collaborative learning activities available on the site . They cover all curriculum areas and all key stages including foundation (early years). Can we encourage you to join our network of teachers who are posting activities on this and linked sites. If you want to access the props, games and activities around picture books you may need to register with us.

Last updated 26th November 2021.