University of Leicester
2019WALSHEPhD.pdf (3.55 MB)

Primary School Teachers and the Teaching of Intercultural Understanding through Lesson Study: What Lessons can be Learnt?

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posted on 2019-11-25, 10:57 authored by Elodie Y. Walsh
Globalisation and migration which have rendered societies and local communities multicultural and multilingual have also impacted on the composition of schools in many countries around the world including Britain. Because of these changes, educating children to become competent, intercultural citizens has been put forward as an important educational goal in many education systems. This is the case in the primary curriculum for English schools which emphasises the importance of developing pupils’ cultural awareness or “Intercultural Understanding”. However, little is known on how Intercultural Understanding is taught to young learners by primary school teachers who are not foreign language specialists. Research which has been conducted in relation to IU teaching within primary languages (DfES, 2002) has highlighted a few issues and challenges that teachers have to contend with.
Therefore, this qualitative study aims to fill the gap in the literature by researching IU teaching within mainstream primary education. It reports the findings from open-ended questionnaires which were completed by head teachers, teachers and teaching assistants in 8 schools. It also presents the outcomes of 2 case studies of small teams of teachers who engaged in collaborative Lesson Study (LS) and created explicit learning opportunities to foster their learners’ Intercultural Understanding. As well as responses to questionnaires, the data comprised semi-structured interviews and multiple multimedia data sets gathered through teachers’ participation in LS. The data analysis followed a thematic analytic framework complemented by discourse analysis.
Findings suggest that whilst IU constitutes an important aspect of primary schools and teachers have the competencies to teach IU effectively, several challenges and barriers jeopardise more systematic teaching of IU. This study concludes that measures in teacher professional development as well as curriculum and material design should be taken in order to increase teachers’ and pupils’ access to quality IU teaching and learning within the primary education context in England.



Julie Norton; Wasyl Cajkler

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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