Category Archives: 2.1 Curriculum

IDL in Primary School

Teaching Across the Subject Boundaries – TDT

When asked to reflect upon an IDL topic which I had done in either primary or secondary school I realised that everything that I remembered had some sort of emotional connection to it. One emotional and memorable IDL topic was World War Two.

Thinking back, I and my other classmates were so engrossed in the topic that we did not realise that there were connections to other subjects being made in order to enhance our learning. That, I believe, is something to take forward into my own teaching. Being able to grasp a whole class, which was from primary 4 to 7, to emotionally connect to a topic is very influential. Thinking back, I think this was achieved by telling us stories and teaching us through films and documentaries set around World War Two, for example, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (which is still a favourite book of mine, just showing the impact is had one me), Goodnight Mr Tom (I was so emotionally connected to this film that I was eager to read the book shortly afterwards) and a documentary, that was luckily on BBC2 at the time, about a modern day family going back in time to World War Two and how their lives differed. But, as some teachers may just let us watch and listen to the stories, films and documentaries, we were encouraged to have a discussion about what we have just learned which allowed us to share our understanding, especially as this was a class of mixed age and ability. By having this discussion, we were so emotionally connected that our class teacher asked us to write a short diary entry about a day in the life of someone during WW2, these ranged from soldiers out on the front line, to wives and families back home. By doing this it made me truly realise how everyone was affected by the war, and thus a link to literacy that we were unaware of.

By using visuals, we were able to connect and understand our learning a lot better, and it also made it more relevant. To this day, in my own teaching, I prefer using a book to grasp the children from the start of any new topic.

When we were also asked to reflect, however, we were asked if maths was involved in our IDL learning, and from what I can remember, maths was never included in IDL. Perhaps this was because I went through the prescriptive 5-14 curriculum. Nevertheless, I truly believe if maths was included within a context, such as IDL, then my own maths anxiety would be non-existent. Maths could have been included, for example within the WW2 topic, by having to weigh and measure the right rations for the class, which would not only help us with our measuring and weight skills, it would also help us realise the shocking lack of food families during WW2 were receiving, creating more of an emotional connection that I believe can be important in IDL learning, as mentioned above.

Creating these connections within a topic without the children truly realising that they are using literacy or numeracy, for example, I believe means children are using the skills they would be using outside of school. Today, we all use skills we learned in primary school, perhaps through IDL, in our own lives without truly realising it. Some of these skills can be taught through IDL to prepare children for their future.

Scientific Literacy

Scientific Literacy and Education

Scientific literacy is becoming a prominent feature within education. In the Science Principles and Practice section of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) (2010) there is an emphasis on this area and that we, as teachers, should be developing scientific literacy within our pupils.

When first being introduced to scientific literacy our thought was that it was based upon knowing a range of scientific language and being able to use them appropriately, but that is the complete opposite of the true definition of scientific literacy. After doing some reading (W. Harlen and A. Qualter, 2009), it was clear that scientific literacy is more than simply understanding scientific language. The definition of scientific literacy is connecting the knowledge children have in science to real life events, so they can analyse and evaluate science based articles to ensure what they are reading is scientifically accurate. Therefore, they will be able to understand that they should not always believe what they read about science in the media. This is a very important aspect we should be teaching children as previous media reports have shown how the public can be easily led by “scientific based” news stories.

The knowledge of scientific literacy is extremely important, especially when you look at examples of when the lack of knowledge has been proven to be dangerous in society. In 1998, a doctor named Andrew Wakefield released a paper on the research he had been doing about the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As this research was released by an extremely respected medical journal, Lancet, editors and members of the public started to panic. Suddenly anti-MMR stories started to be printed by many other newspapers as people were coming forward with their stories. The country began to think they had been lied to by the medical authorities and turned to the government for reassurance. The press asked the Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, what his thoughts on the vaccine were and if he would give it to his son, Leo. He refused to answer and this lead to many stories on the MMR scare being about his son in 2002. Thankfully, an investigation in 2004 led to Lancet coming forward and admitting that the research by Andrew Wakefield was improper and inaccurate. Unfortunately, even after all of this, people still doubted the vaccine and this is all down to the lack in knowledge of scientific literacy. If the public had been scientifically literate, they would have been able to analyse the article and realise for themselves that it was based on inaccurate research and was an unfair experiment. Therefore, it is important to teach scientific literacy within school, through teaching things like fair testing.

Fair testing in science is the process of carrying out a controlled investigation in order to answer a scientific question. Children need to understand that a test is only fair if only one variable is changed during the experiment. Pupils will experiment in science the whole way through school. Therefore, they will develop their skills and knowledge of fair testing and why it is important. It is essential that teachers understand fair testing themselves so as to explain the terminology and concepts of a scientific experiment to pupils. (The School Run, 2018). Scientific literacy is not knowing lots of scientific facts. It is instead an understanding of how science actually works. It is important for children to have good scientific literacy as they progress through school and into further life. Practicing fair testing during school will help them explore science rather than simply learn and retain facts. It is therefore essential as pupils will learn the proper ways to test in science and will be encouraged to answer questions and discover for themselves. Using fair testing through experimentation could create a more positive attitude towards science and improve pupils’ scientific literacy through enjoyment (Durant, J. 1994).


Thus, a focus upon scientific literacy must be emphasised within schools to ensure a new generation of scientifically literate children who do not believe everything they read. This can be done through teaching fair testing and making science relevant to real life.



Durant, J. (1994). What is scientific literacy? European Review, 2(1), 83-89. doi:10.1017/S1062798700000922

The Scottish Government (2010) Curriculum for Excellence: Sciences principles and practice. Available at: on: 8th February 2018)

  1. Harlen and A. Qualter (2009) The Teaching of Science in Primary Schools. 5thedn, London: Routledge

What is a Fair Test? (2018) Available at: (Accessed on: 10/02/18)

RME, it is not just about religion

“What have you learned during the RME inputs?”

When faced with this question I was not 100% certain what I had learnt, until I had todays input. It’s all about the child’s understanding behind religions and their personal journey to find that.

I realised this today after getting to see and touch artefacts related to various areas of RME, including those from the picture at the top. It really made me realise that having objects engages children much more as they can put a visual to what you are saying, additionally gaining more of an understanding.

But you cannot just have the objects alone, there needs to be discussion surrounding them, such as what do you think the object is used for? how do you think we should handle them? These open questions are allowing the children to think deeper leading to a better understanding which is, ultimately, what I would set out to achieve.

Overall, I am much more confident in teaching RME to children and I do not think I will ever know everything to do with all religions! But that’s okay, I think sometimes learning with the children allows them to understand that you are human too and that (as much as I think we find it hard to admit) teachers do not know everything!

Making those mistakes, researching and working with the children will, overall, lead to a more positive ethos within the classroom, helping with other areas of classroom and behaviour management.