Last Updated: Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Transforming pedagogy across the Early Level

What is this?

​This practice exemplar from Melrose Primary School in Scottish Borders offers insight into the improvement journey taken by senior leaders and practitioners to achieving continuity and progression in learning across the Early Level of the curriculum.

Who is this for?

​The practice exemplar is for all ELC and primary practitioners and will be of most interest to those working within the Early Level.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice?

The presentations are intended to be used as a series over a number of CLPL sessions (6-8 1-hour sessions), although each can used on its own and for a particular purpose, for example, to exemplify the Leading Change quality indicator (QI) of How Good Is Our School? 4 or the theme of Pedagogy and Play within the Curriculum quality indicator (QI) of How Good Is Our Early Learning and Childcare?

Presentations include video footage and photographs to exemplify practice.

Reflection questions:

  • To what extent does the practice in primary 1 build upon that of early learning and childcare? In particular, to what extent is high quality play-based learning a feature of children's experiences across the Early Level?
  • In respect of the curriculum, have you thought carefully about what needs to stay the same for children as they transition from ELC to primary 1; and, what needs to be different for them? What evidence do you have that this is an annual process, considering the needs of each cohort of learners?
  • In what ways does the design of the curriculum in primary 1 challenge learners? In particular, how does planning ensure that children continue to be able to make decisions about their own learning, to deepen their learning through play and to collaborate with peers and adults in a meaningful and challenging way?
  • How valuable is the exchange of information between ELC and primary 1 about each child as a learner? In what ways does the information exchanged help primary 1 practitioners meet the learning needs of all children? Does information exchange focus too heavily on curriculum coverage (experiences) as opposed to skills (outcomes)? If so, how could this be redressed?

Explore this resource


Building upon the successful approaches in early learning and childcare (ELC), practitioners undertook a 'root and branch' review of their pedagogical approach including to re-organise the learning environment in primary 1, critically examine the role of the teacher and consider most fitting assessment approach to complement the new way of working.

This change took place at the beginning of 2015/16 session and this resource offers the insight and reflections of key staff within the school as to what works and why.

What was done?

During session 2015/16, practitioners at Melrose Primary School worked together to develop approaches to learning and teaching in primary 1, building successfully upon those in the ELC setting within the school.

There are three parts to the exemplar in the form of a slide show presentation:

Can't view these videos? You can also view these clips on Glow (log-in required).

Can't view these videos? You can also view these clips on Glow (log-in required).

Can't view these videos? You can also view these clips on Glow (log-in required).


The school identified the need to improve further the extent to which children’s experiences in Primary 1 aligned to those in early learning and childcare. Through self-evaluation, the school identified that in the early learning and childcare setting, children were being given greater choice in their learning. They were being given more time to deepen their learning and that assessment was accordingly more holistic in nature. In order to ensure continuity and progression for these learners, the school embarked upon a process of transformational change.

What was the impact?

Learners in primary 1 are motivated and keen learners. They are highly engaged in all aspects of their learners and have a very well developed sense of their own learning and achievements.