Play in the primary school classroom? The experience of teachers supporting children’s learning through a new pedagogy

Joan Martlew, Christine Stephen, Jennifer Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
8407 Downloads (Pure)


In Scotland in recent years there has been growing interest in a more play-based pedagogy commonly described as Active Learning. The research reported in this article is an exploration of moves towards creating an active play-based learning environment in six Primary 1 classrooms in Scotland and is concerned with (i) the children's experiences in such a play-based active learning environment in school and (ii) their teachers' perspectives on this pedagogical innovation and their roles in supporting the learners. This study examined experiences and perspectives within and across each of the six child-centred and play-focused classes. The main findings suggest that the role of the teacher varies between what could be considered as teacher-intensive and teacher-initiated activities. 'Active' or 'play-based' learning was interpreted differently by teachers; play in some classrooms was peripheral rather than integral to the learning process and curriculum-embedded.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-83
Number of pages13
JournalEarly Years
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • active learning
  • play
  • pedagogy
  • teacher activity
  • children's engagement

Cite this