Most recent postings at the top!
But please keep scrolling down since we keep older entries up to date.

Our project does not have a loud strident voice, but has been sustained by teachers working together to put talk at the centre of learning in multilingual classes since the 1960s; usually with either opposition or neglect on the part of government. Small circles and quiet processes.


1st October 2022

Our Web Log has returned and the most recent posting is about the importance of finding short amounts of time to listen and record the language of children new to English. You may be shocked to discover very important information that can alter your assessment and teaching plans.

29th September 2022

Our most recent work which will appear soon is on Naughty Bus. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

28th September 2022

Notice to colleagues from Norfolk who attended our online introduction to CLP.

A link to an edited pdf version of the presentation can be found on the right.

28th September 2022

Back to the Future?

Ten years ago we posted the Partnership Teaching Videos on Vimeo. Our memories have just been jiggled by Graham Smith at the EAL Academy. Made in the 1980s; although the quality is iffy, and we all look youthful, the teaching/learning is still spot on!

Here are the links:




Salmon Science lesson from Soar Valley Leicester

The Introductory booklet can be found on our Research Helter Skelter. 

8th September 2022

An inexpensive and effective malaria vaccine has just been announced! We want to update our activity. If you would like to help us please get in contact.

9th August 2022

So long and thank you Raymond Briggs.

We have a selection of activities around his books. Our favourite and most popular on the right.

10th July 2022

Eleven years ago we started working with Mantra Lingua and produced our Giant Turnip Games.

They have just published them in Ukrainian.

5th July 2022

Time to celebrate an amazing partnership between Rochdale EAL team and Mantra Lingua. Resources to support and enhance Rafa's First Day. If you have New Arrivals in your EYFS setting this combination provides guidance and inspiration.

27th June 2022

The past is another country! We have just added our latest posting on our RHS with views on collaborative classrooms from 1994.

24th June 2022

NATE's Bring Back Talk Seminar. Here is a link to our follow up pages with presentations and resources. The seminar was recorded and will be available soon.

23rd June 2022

NATESOL are hosting a free presentation on COLLOCATION on 9th July. This topic is vital for all language learning at all levels.

Link to their website on the right.

Link to their flyer HERE!!



14th June 2022

Jan Garen from Wales Ape and Monkey joined us to show our work in progress at NE London NALDIC RIG on 8th June.

We have now posted a dedicated link page and will update it regularly!



13th May 2022

We enjoyed a lively and informative SATEAL Teachmeet yesterday. Thank you Kirsten and the SATEAL team.


9th April 2022

We thoroughly endorse the comments in this Guardian article.

More time for play and communication would help them better!


My pupils have been badly set back by the pandemic. ‘Catch-up’ lessons aren’t what they need

22nd March 2022

We have now added macaques to the primates Introduce Me role card activities. You can find these new materials on our Work in Progress pages.


18th March 2022

We are working with Rochdale on poetry and words of (e)motion. Games and minibooks. You can find these new materials on our Work in Progress pages.


7th March 2022

Jan Garen from Wales Ape and Monkey has prepared a role play activity to introduce all the different baboons. We have included a minibook to encourage the production of more minibooks.


28th February 2022

New activity on Egyptians and Baboons to scaffold collaborative research in History, Geography and Science.


7th February 2022

Dickens' Birthday today. Born in 1812.


3rd February 2022

Our presentation for the NALDIC North

London Regional Interest Group.

We are going to group presentations on our new Professional Development page starting with our most recent.




2nd February 2022

A day late for Chinese New Year but a story that is worth looking at and playing with all year.


31st January 2022

Hampshire EAL team blog is always interesting to follow, but this time it features the autobiography of an Aghan refugee who left Kabul just before the Taliban arrived.


Take a look at their excellent new blog!

18th January 2022

Back to the future!

One writer and researcher whose work has influenced us since we started out is Andrew Wilkinson.

He decided that we needed a new word to describe the powerful skill of talking and listening well. He invented the word



The first chapter of this book explains his thinking.


4th January 2022

We plan to add more languages to our Runaway Pea games; now available in French, Czech, Albanian and Spanish. Help us please with our Arabic and Bengali versions. Suggestions and corrections please!


17th December 2021

We are rethinking the purpose and direction of the project. Our activities download is increasing, but our development of new and revised activities is diminishing because we are not able to run workshops. However, for us, the process - planning together, trying out in the classroom and sharing feedback - is just as important than the resources we develop. In the same way that our activities are catalysts to scaffold talk, resource development is a stimulus to teacher cooperation and creativity. We were involved in the first wave of celebrating oracy and in the second wave that produced the National Oracy Project. We are now seeing the third wave getting under way with Voice 21. It's still good to talk; even better to talk together and create together. We welcome comments and suggestions from colleagues.


3rd December 2021

Our guide to minibooks has been very popular at our recent teachmeets, webinars and regional interest groups.


3rd December 2021

We enjoyed a very stimulating programme at the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Interest Group on 2nd December. It's good to see that the RIGs have been very helpful during the pandemic. We introduced some of our recent projects and resources.

19th November 2021

Bradford Barnstormers have produced a visitors pack based on their Monastic Barn teaching materials.


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.

Even if you are too far from the barn to visit, you will find the activities an interesting introduction to medieval building methods. You might even be interested in developing activities for a building near your school. 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.

27th October 2021

Thank you SATEAL for another lively inspiring Teachmeet

We presented on resources to encourage and support parent workshops developing and sharing games and activities for picture story books.


15th October 2021

A new link to NATESOL on our links page

They ran a free online presentation last month.

Connecting language across the curriculum: inclusion,differentiation and access through EAP
Bee Bond (University of Leeds)

6th October 2021

Teachers of Writing should be Teachers who write!

There may be a group that meets near you. Check with the NWP website. Our group (North London) met last Saturday and produced character cards for Transformations activities.

6th October 2021

Our Black History Activities have been updated.



21st September 2021

Oh No! said Mr Bear! Sorry to hear of the death of Jill Murphy. Thank you for all the stories that have been brilliant for collaborative games!


13th September 2021

For Roald Dahl day we have the Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.


7th September 2021

Back to the future! Teachit's latest newsletter on talk (link here!) features our 2016 article on the importance of scaffolding talk using motivating activities. We featured Oliver Twist character cards, but you can find many more similar activities here in every subject. We welcome your contributions to expand and invigorate our website. We were involved in the first Oracy surge and now we are in the middle of the third. Maybe, given the unpopularity of classroom talk in top down teaching circles, we will need to be constantly going back to the future!

So long Eric Carle. Your books have inspired many young readers and you have inspired us to make many popular games around your stories


EMC published their anthology Iridescent Adolescent about a year ago. They have worked with teachers to produce group work activities around these exciting diverse short stories which are now free to download.

Our newest activities on line are old ones developed in the eighties and mined from our archive. Can you help us bring them them up to date?

We have just added these activities to our early years webpage. Our games around books are very popular with parents. They provide many opportunities to discuss the story in different ways.

To celebrate the decision to show the Bayeux tapestry in the UK, we are offering a mystery prize for research on our 1066 activity.

Now all schools have returned, we have suspended our daily postings, but will keep these here to encourage everyone to practise quality talk inside the classroom and at home.

Good to see that our activities have reached all the way to Alaska in one direction and New Zealand in the other!

Link to our Lockdown Pages:


Racing to English Gordon, like a dog with a bone, on Wordwall.

Give it a whirl and see whether you can produce more than Gordon.

If you are envious of our lovely peas, why not ask Renata to make you some story props for any book you love.

Human Rights Day: we have updated our information gap activity on Edmond Albius who created our opportunity to enjoy Vanilla, but was denied any acknowledgement nor given any reward.

We're continuing work on the R game to rub along with our other virus activities and the basic activity is now online. We need ideas and pictures. If you like the idea of working with us, take a look at the Work in Progress page.

We now understand there is still a chance for the bell foundry to continue. We are now seeing proposals for tulips and other unsustainable buildings rejected. Follow Spitalfields Life to keep up to date with this David and Goliath battle as well as find out very interesting things about this part of London.

If you have Polish students in your school, please ask them to help us complete our Poland and Britain history connections activity.

Link on the right to a new video by Tim Hunkin. Two Ton School Run. Still very timely and appropriate.

New Guidance document with a host of links from the Bell Foundation. Well worth a visit.


Are you feeling like an endangered species at the moment?

Here's an activity which will put this in perspective and provide some salutary lessons.

Mantra has written a new introduction to their publications.

Over 550 books in our Free eLibrary in English with French, Spanish, German, Romanian, Polish, Mandarin, Arabic…  

 When schools were closed, Mantra Lingua offered free access to their dual language ebook library. The books can be used in building English and MFL skills. Also, in homes where English is not the first language, parents and all siblings can sharpen their English reading and speaking skills. Please support them now.

 “We used the ebooks to promote literacy and foster a love of reading,” Erica Field, EMA Teaching and Learning Advisor


We were very impressed and would strongly endorse Robin Alexander's evidence to the All Party Group on Oracy. Here is a youtube link to the meeting.


We would encourage you again to visit Nrich for groupworthy, accessible challenging maths activities. Take a look at their COVID page.



Excellent informative new website from Warwick Mansell and Ann McGauran:

We aim to put under the microscope the endless waves of reforms which have hit England’s schools in recent years. We will seek to hold policymakers and those with power to account for goings-on at ground level, as we dig around in the undergrowth of schools reform.


New information gap activity on Mae Jemison from Steve Cooke.





We have put back our link to the Schools History Project and encourage you to take a look at their Essay Competition.

Click here



We have for the interim opened our Early Years resources so you don't need to register, but if you return a lot please do so. You can access them directly either from the main activities menu or from the picture on the left. Many are good for parents, carers and children exploring familiar books.




We updated our games and activities for teachers playing with parents playing with children to take to SATEAL conference . . Our most recent livened up resource is Mad Food with a picture version to play.

P.S. Early Years resources can be accessed at the moment without registering. All the activities are free as they have always been and always will be.



Meet the Musical Dots!

Lively songs with helpful lyrics.

Chart quality!

Concerned that quite often the tunes that children are tapping and jiggling to often have unsavoury and downright sleazy lyrics, this group have produced some brilliant tunes to encourage fun and collaboration for the rituals of the school day.


NFER report

Teacher Autonomy and Job Satisfaction?

This recent report by NFER is an important read.

38 per cent of teachers say that they have 'a little' or 'no' influence over their professional development goals

Teachers are 16 percentage points less likely than similar professionals to report having 'a lot' of influence over how they do their job


Teacher autonomy is strongly associated with improved job satisfaction and a greater intention to stay in teaching


To us it seems obvious, but at least here is a stick to beat those who undermine autonomy.

Download report here


Here is a link to the most recent issue of Innovate.

Link on the left. We are very happy to support Innovate because it is a return to the movement that started us off in the 80s: teachers as researchers and exploring the creativity and empowerment of collaboration. Very refreshing in this current climate of constant measurement and undermining autonomy.

We believe that teachers are more than twice as creative when they work together.

The page is a temporary one but we hope we will be providing an introduction and more back numbers of the journal.



Gordon has done it again ..and again!!

Another collection of You Tube talks full of good sense and useful suggestions. Link to his short presentations that clarify many of the why's and how's of collaborative learning.


We have tidied up

A Squash and a Squeeze

which is one of our most popular activities so please suggest new games for this book.


We are delighted to have been working with Teachit for their first twenty years!

Here's to the next twenty!


More evolutionary support for Collaborative Learning

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


We have been updating our poetry sorting boards. Take a look at our ballad activity and suggest additions.

We really like the new oral and visual presentation from Mantra Lingua! Click on the heffalump to take a look!


We have added a link to the Norfolk EAL team on our links page.

Find out about their lively programme of courses and events.


Gordon Ward from Racing to English has just updated his Solar System Connect Four Game. Take a look at his website for more collaborative games.


The National Writing Project has changed its web address. They have gone weebly. Contact them to find out about a group near you. Writing together can be as inspiring as developing collaborative activities together!


A big thank you to colleagues that have publicised the project on social media! Our most recent EYFS activity on the left! Hang on to your copy of this book - it's becoming a rarity.


Take a look at our most recent Geography activity. Not a word in it, but likely to scaffold lots of purposeful talk.

We wrote an article about role play for Caroline's newsletter. We used our KS2 activity on trade goods from the East India Company. You can role play spices and textile and even angels, reals and Spanish dollars.

Would you like to get beyond technical talks and help us develop new activities that empower pupils. Take a look at our new activity on the British Empire which is part of our Work in Progress. It links closely to the history work undertaken by the Runnymede Trust.

Can we encourage you to sign the pledge?

'Best Practice in Grouping Students' is a research project funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and conducted by researchers at UCL and Queen's University Belfast, which ran from 2014-2018. It investigated which methods of grouping secondary school students are most effective in improving their educational engagement and attainment with particular attention to improving the performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The project was independently evaluated by the National Foundation for Educational Research.

Collaborative activities thrive in mixed attainment classrooms.

We are updating our Literacy activities and adding more. Please check our Literacy Page from time to time. We'll also wake up our Twitter Bird (blue footed booby) and flag up new activities.


We have just heard of the death of John Burningham.

We would like to thank him for all his books that have promoted meaningful conversations between children in nursery and primary settings. We hope they will continue to provoke and inspire for many more years to come. We will be producing more collaborative activities around them.




Collaborative Learning and Kate Moorse have been running workshops for Humanities Coordinators in many London boroughs for many years. Cuts to LA budgets have meant that these workshops are now few and far between, so we have set up a webpage with links to useful documentation which you can access even if your authority can no longer fund workshops or has actually never funded them. We'll try to keep it up to date.You can find it here! Please persuade your head to let you join the History and Geography Associations for the best and cheapest CPD. Links on our links page.



We have just updated our Mad Food activity since our Rascally Cake work will match it beautifully.

Inspired by Hallowe'en and the current preoccupation with increasing vocabulary without too much attention to curriculum content, we are adding a contextual language activity to each of our early years activities around popular storybooks. These activities use pictures from the books so for copyright reasons are not accessible from our main website. If you want access you must register your school with us and we will send them by email in pdf. If you want to join us in developing them we can also send you editable versions in Adobe Creative Suite. This software usually costs an arm and a leg, but Adobe do offer hefty education discounts. Our first activity is Room on the Broom. Whooooosh! Our next one is Rascally Cake. We are developing more at our next workshop.



Erica Field and her colleagues in Rochdale have worked with pupils on what it feels like to be "new". How could your classmates help you? She tells us: "I've had the privilege to work with an amazing group of young people, who are answering these questions."  'Our Story' shares the collective experiences of a number of international new arrivals and asylum seekers, most of whom arrived in KS2. Their short animation is designed to be used in school with a class before the new arrival starts.  "If we can help make things just a bit better for the new person and the class that would be amazing!" says Neet-Kaur.

The young people involved worked with M6 Theatre and Kilogramme Animation Studio to explore their own feelings, write and record a shared script and consult on every stage of the animation.  They had the final say about everything.They have also produced an activity pack that class teachers can dip into if they want to do a little more than just show the animation and have a chat about it.

'Our Story'

Download their animated film here.

We have just added two lively and useful sites to our updated links page:

Better Bilingual based in Bristol


The Hampshire EMTAS blog


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!


We have 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 than ever; 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 when chased by search engines, on a 'secret' early years 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. In a few days 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, now a reformed character?, summarised Paul Gardner's most recent research (see on the right). 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:


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! Feedback is also praised highly and this is much easier to carry out in collaborative classrooms. 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 classroom 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.

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

Did you register with us to use the Early Years Activities around Stories "Secret" page? We have made this page less secret and available to all for the period of the pandemic.



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.