We have now posted a new webpage that invites you to join us in tweaking our new activities, even if you are too far away to attend one of our free Saturday workshops. Let's go back to the Age of Invention!

Back to the Age of Invention!

Our next free development workshop is on 1st December. We are open to suggestions as to theme. This is the only occasion when you will experience cookies; there are none on our website!

Keep scrolling down down and you will find:


Future events

Recent Activities at the very end!






We are very sorry to hear of the death of Ron Carter. He has modestly and thoroughly supported work on the value and impact of talk in classrooms for many years. We cannot count how many inspiring sessions he has led. We will ensure that his ideas and resources will be available for teachers in the future. The link to LINC is on the right!

The next LATE conference at the British Film Institute in Waterloo takes place on the 8th December. Membership of LATE is free and our conferences are excellent value. Click on the poster on the right to find out more and join the email list.



We have just received the final copy of Race Equality Teaching previously known as Multicultural Teaching. It is a glorious compendium of articles from all the issues since 1982.Some good news: you can reach all the issues on open access on the IOE Press archive. Click on the right!
The SATS are still with us and if anything more pernicious; poking roots into every bit of the curriculum and drawing off any creativity that still remains. This poem by Alan Gibbons was published by the Anti-SATS alliance and offers hope and humour.
This cartoon from Private Eye appeared ten years ago! It was bad then and is worse now.
You have probably been receiving inumerable emails from agencies who hold your data re the new rules starting on privacy. The only data we hold at Collaborative Learning are the school emails of colleagues who want access to the early years activities which hide, somewhat ineffectively, on a 'secret' page on our website. e.g. underpants dice/lotto. We'd be grateful if you could let us know if you are happy for us to continue to hold this information. After about a couple of weeks from now, we will delete information of colleagues from whom we have not heard.

This book, one of the best explanations of the nature and value of Collaborative Learning, published in 2002, is back in the news. The Daily Mail! summarised Paul Gardner's most recent research. His full article can be found in "English in Education" - the NATE English journal. Paul has agreed for us to show you the first chapter of this book, since it is still in print and there has not really been anything better published since. Link is on the book cover above.


Daily Mail, June 2017

Australian schools are better at teaching children English than schools in England, according to new research.

Dr Paul Gardner, a lecturer at Curtin University's School of Education, compared the English curriculums of England and Australia - and found a significant difference in the way pupils are taught in the two countries.

His study, published in the English in Education journal, says teachers in England were faced with a rigid curriculum in how they could teach the language, while Australia's curriculum allows for more creativity and flexibility.

His research found that 68 per cent of England's curriculum emphasises a didactic, teacher-directed approach – with a focus on phonics, spelling and prescriptive grammar - as opposed to interactive learning.

Dr Gardner, a British former academic who now lives in Australia, also found that the Australian curriculum was better at combining the basics of English with a broader socio-linguistic view of the language allowing students to reflect on and respond to a wide range of literature.
What the research shows is the England-based approach focuses very heavily on language at word level and did not encourage pupils' exploration of meaning at the level of texts'

..Barbara Bleiman

from English and Media centre is promoting and developing group work across the curriculum. Here is a link to her blog:


Caroline Scott, Communication Across Cultures, is featuring Collaborative Learning in her latest EAL newsletter, which you can sign up to on her website.


Lucy Burton has launched a new magazine for children learning English. Good luck to her! We like the graphics. Take a look at her website and download a free sample copy. She promises collaborative games.


We like this quote a lot.

Tony Booth and colleagues have set up a website where colleagues can share, anonymously if they wish, stories of daily foolishness in conversations, jargon, directives, cuts, inspections, and feudal style management that has undermined the creativity of educators, turned schools into testing factories, distorted thinking in universities and led to many leaving teaching. Here's an example:

"The school has bought into the Rising Stars test scheme. Teachers looked at the test for this half term and saw there are several things in it we have not taught our classes yet (we will teach them later in the year, but the test doesn't match the maths scheme we use). We were told we had to give the test anyway, despite already knowing most children would score 0 on a number of questions, not because they were incapable of answering them, but because they had been taught other things which did not appear in the test. Children we know are not working at, say a Year 4 level, but are in Year 4 have had to sit the Year 4 test and some have scored 0/20 as a result. The test has told the teacher nothing they didn't know already and can only have been bad for the self-esteem of those children."

Do take a look at the tidied up and refurbished Education Endowment Foundation site. Based on more new research on dialogue and talk, Collaborative Learning still rates highly for raising achievement and it does it very economically! Oral Language Interventions also rate highly and we believe they occur frequently in collaborative group work! EEF has been described as the "Which" guide to spending Pupil Premium. School uniform incidentally has a negative rating! Take a look at their recent research reports. Link on the right!
Thank you Berkeley Primary School for posting your appreciation of Are You a Stinker? We hope you will try out more of our over the top activities such as Queasy Tum or Germ Warfare. We'd also welcome any new drawings and predicaments. Also we think you are near enough to Bradford on Avon to try out our Meet the Barn activities and make a visit. We'd welcome your feedback.

Well done OBE providers for choosing Raymond Briggs! He has been tickling our imaginations and stirring our consciences for yonks! Sometimes you think the gong folk stick a pin into the phone book or are open to bungs (well we know they are!), but this time they must have listened to reason.


We concentrate mainly on developing classroom resources here at Collaborative Towers, but have been worrying about the fact that we have not updated our research pages for some time. Our new research page/blog will appear soon. It has always been difficult for teachers to access research so we are grateful to colleagues like Robin Alexander and the Cambridge Primary Review for self publishing. Here comes help from Kamil at Building Diversity and Equality Awareness (link on the right!). His most recent blog post has done our work for us and he has provided an excellent summary on the value of talk for learning. And he promises a second part very soon!
We support and work with Kate Moorse and her network of London Primary Humanities Coordinators. If you coordinate history or geography or citizenship and would like to access the London Humanities webpage, attend network meetings and/or work with colleagues on resource development and planning, please contact us and we will give you a link to our dedicated webpage. Even if you work outside London you will find the resources on the webpage useful. We will be posting activities in development on our new Work in Progress page.

Collaborative Learning and Bradford Barnstormers (a group promoting community use of the Bradford on Avon Monastic Barn) with the support of Historic England and English Heritage have been working together to produce three teaching activities to make a visit to the barn more exciting and informative for children. The activities provide opportunities for role play, careful observation and work with chronology. Click on the right to find the activities which we are currently piloting. Please try them out and send us your comments.

Even if you are too far from the barn to visit, you will find the activities an interesting introduction to medieval building methods. We are currently adapting the activities to support work on Guedelon, the castle in France, being built in a medieval way using only medieval tools and techniques.

New activities on Bradford on Avon Monastic Barn

Sheffield University and Sheffield Local Authority have been working together to develop EAL friendly teaching resources for Science that involve parents and employ first language. We have a number of science activities just about to be published.

We have just added a link (on our links page of course) to the new online EAL course set up by Hampshire Ethnic Minority Achievement service. They have worked hard to provide advice and CPD for schools. There latest link up with the London Grid for Learning is well worth investigating.
Mark Sims, who was Ofsted lead for EAL in England, produced a series of very short video clips where he stresses the importance of opportunities for EAL pupils to hear and respond to the spoken contributions of their English speaking peers. Learning conversations are vital for these learners. You also have here a pdf of his powerpoint presentation on the inspection of EAL.






Gordon Ward at "Racing to English" is producing some very entertaining and useful videos introducing collaborative activities. Click on his shape monsters on the right to reveal his youtube channel. He has responded to nagging and produced more videos recently.

P.S. You can find a link to his website on our links page.



We have provided here a short one page guide to one of our most empowering kinds of resources. You can find many examples of role play activities on the site and we hope you try them out and develop your own versions.

You can click on the tiny version here on the right to download a full size pdf version which we hope you will introduce to colleagues.

We have also linked the main aims of the project to quotes from James Britton's work: click on his book!



Is your school publishing an account of your collaborative learning work in your pupil premium impact report? We'd still like to hear from schools who are. This will help us network good practice.


sutton banks






The Diary keeps links to resources from past events plus information and links for future events. If there is anything you think should be here please let us know.



Diary is "under construction" at the moment. It will reappear very soon!

We update this diary regularly. Go to our links page to reach websites for the diary entries.


In response to the recent decision to test tables (up to 12 times to help with old pence calculations!) at the end of Primary School, here is a chatty way to encourage the learning plus some good folding practice. You will find Chatterboxes (sometimes called Fortune Tellers) useful for scaffolding talk in other subjects. In the meantime here are some mental maths Chatterboxes.