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Cambridge Primary Review North East and Cumbria Regional Network

A research project of the School of Education.


The Cambridge Primary Review (CPR) was launched in October 2006 as a fully independent enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England. The Review has been supported since its inception by generous grants from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The scope of the Review and the depth of its evidence have made it the most comprehensive enquiry into English primary education since the Plowden report of 1967. Between October 2007 and February 2009 the Review published 31 interim reports, including 28 surveys of published research, 39 briefings, 14 media releases and several newspaper articles. The Review's 608-page final report Children, their World, their Education: final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review
was published on 16 October 2009, together with an 850-page companion volume, The Cambridge Primary Review Research Surveys.
Both books are published by Routledge.


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • North East And Cumbria Regional Network (£3900.00 from ESMEE FAIRBAIRN FOUNDATION)


The CPR National Primary Network is a direct response to requests from teachers and others who attended our regional and national dissemination events. The majority of those who attended these events supported our ideas and recommendations and indicated their eagerness to take them forward, but many expressed the fear that they could not do so without 'permission' from national agencies and local authorities. The CPR final report strongly criticises this culture of prescription, compliance and dependency - while of course acknowledging that it is certainly not universal - and calls for approaches to teaching, initial teacher education, continuing professional development and school leadership and improvement which work to re-empower teachers as thinkers as well as actors in the core professional fields of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.

Although it responds to the way national educational policy has been conducted over the past two decades, our argument for re-empowerment is professional and educational rather than political: it rests on the belief that, in the words of our report, 'Children will not learn to think for themselves if their teachers are expected to do merely as they are told.' Hence the CPR National Primary Network, which is being supported for its first two years by the CPR's main sponsor, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and has been given a boost by the new government's advocacy of greater professional freedom from external prescription and control.

Regional Network

Durham and Newcastle Universities have been chosen to act as joint hosts for the Northeast and Cumbria region. The network aims to:

  • support reform in primary schools, local authorities and teacher education and training
  • support and influence local and national policy development
  • enhance the quality of primary education.

Dr Kate Wall (Durham University) will be the Regional Coordinator and Dr Elaine Hall (Newcastle University) will be Deputy Coordinator. They will be working with schools, third strand organisation and existing and emerging networks in the region to explore what the network should look like, which aims from the Cambridge Primary Review should act as a focus and what events and activities will be useful for improving outcomes for primary aged children.


Our overarching research question was:

How are the themes from the Cambridge Primary Review being interpreted and realised in the North East and Cumbria Regional Network?

We have sub-divided this into two strands:

    • What are the emerging understandings of the twelve aims of the CPR?
    • How are these ideas realised in practice?

A range of evidence to answer these questions was collected and disseminated on a network website: (


The final report was accompanied by a briefing paper, a media release and a widely-disseminated introductory booklet.


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