This paper reports the experiences of 150 children and six primary teachers when active learning pedagogies were introduced into the first year of primary schools. Although active learning increased the amount of talk between children, those from socio-economically advantaged homes talked more than those from less advantaged homes. Also, individual children experienced very little time engaged in high-quality talk with the teacher, despite the teachers spending over one-third of their time responding to children's needs and interests. Contextual differences, such as the different staffing ratios in schools and pre-schools, may affect how well the benefits of active learning transfer from pre-school contexts into primary schools. Policy-makers and teachers should pay particular attention to the implications of this for the education of children from economically less advantaged home backgrounds.