TRADITIONAL VERSUS PROGRESSIVE TEACHING PRACTICE-RESEARCH SUGGESTS THEY SUPPORT DIFFERENT COGNITIVE SKILLS

TRADITIONAL VERSUS PROGRESSIVE TEACHING PRACTICE

Not either or but both- if they promote different cognitive skills in students?

Traditional raises achievement in the  knowledge domain-Modern in the reasoning domain, according to new research

Comment

New research- Teaching practices and cognitive skills – by Jan Bietenbec of Cemfi, Madrid - uses data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to show that traditional and modern teaching practices in effect promote different cognitive skills in students. Some educationalists have called for a decrease in the use of traditional teaching practices (such as learning by rote) and an increase in the use of modern teaching practices (such as working in small groups) in schools. Yet a small literature in economics has consistently found that traditional teaching raises test scores, while the effect of modern teaching appears to be small and sometimes even negative.(Professor Hattie)This research, however, finds that Traditional practices promote factual knowledge and routine problem-solving skills. Whereas Modern, student-centred practices promote reasoning skills.

Gabriel Sahlgren, of CMRE, who describes himself as an ‘empirical economist’ commenting on this research writes:

’ By decomposing scores in three different domains, he is able to separate the effects of different teaching practices on ‘knowing’, ‘applying’, and ‘reasoning’ domains, with the weight being about 35%, 41%, and 24% respectively in mathematics, and 37%, 41%, and 22% respectively in science. Importantly, it is the last domain that measures skills that many advocates of modern teaching practices seek to promote.

‘The author analyses how differences in teaching methods that pupils experience in science and mathematics are related to test-score differences in these subjects, which means that he can hold constant unobservable pupil characteristics, such as intelligence, maturity etc., that affect their results equally in science and mathematics.

‘Interestingly, he finds that traditional teaching methods are clearly best for raising achievement in the two ‘traditional knowledge’ domains: a 100% increase in traditional teaching methods raises achievement in those domains by fully 0.42 standard deviation in the ‘knowing’ domain, and by 0.36 standard deviations in the ‘applying’ domain. However, modern teaching practices are best for raising achievement in the ‘reasoning’ domain: a 100% increase in modern teaching practices increases achievement by 0.24 standard deviations in this domain. While the differences are only statistically significant in the first two domains, this indicates that the different teaching practices are good for different things’

 Teaching practices and cognitive skills -Jan Bietenbec-2014

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927537114000219

THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHER FEEDBACK

Although feedback is seen as essential -for teachers professional development-too many teachers in OECD regard feedback  in their schools as insufficient

Comment

Teacher feedback is broadly any communication teachers receive about their teaching, formally, or informally, based on some form of interaction with their work (e.g. observing classrooms and the teaching of students).  Feedback can be based on different methods, such as classroom observation, student surveys, assessment of teachers’ knowledge, students test scores, self-assessment or discussions with parents.

As Professor Dylan Wiliam and David Didau, among others,  have pointed out teachers often assume that the pupils they are teaching are in the process of learning. But appearances can be deceptive. Relying on teachers’ intuition about whether a lesson has been successful and hit home,  or not, is not enough to determine whether the pupils are retaining the knowledge and are able to apply it usefully at some point in the  future.

According to the OECD ‘Fair and effective feedback from multiple sources is essential for teachers’ professional development. Next to feedback from school leaders, peer feedback can be beneficial in many ways. Teachers can work with each other to develop systems of peer feedback to share knowledge on different aspect of teaching (e.g. lesson planning, classroom practices). Such systems also strengthen collaboration between teachers, which further boosts teacher job satisfaction.

The OECD TALIS survey of teachers shows, the most common sources of feedback are school principals (54% of teachers), members of the school management team (49%) and other teachers (42%). Feedback from external individual and bodies (29%) and assigned mentors (19%) are the two least common sources. Moreover, many individual teachers receive feedback from multiple sources:

Main TALIS findings on feedback:

  • Across countries and economies participating in the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), a majority of teachers report receiving feedback on different aspects of their work in their schools.
  • Teacher feedback has a developmental focus, with many teachers reporting that it leads to improvements in their teaching practices, and other aspects of their work.
  • However, not all feedback is seen as meaningful: nearly half of the teachers across TALIS countries report that teacher appraisal and feedback systems in their school are largely undertaken simply to fulfil administrative requirements.
  • Teachers who consider that they receive meaningful feedback on their work also tend to have more confidence in their own abilities and to have higher job satisfaction.

Despite the positive outcomes of feedback, many teachers perceive the systems of appraisal and feedback in their school as insufficient to help in the development of teaching. More than half of teachers report that teacher appraisal and feedback in the school are largely undertaken to fulfil administrative requirements. In addition, less than 40% of teachers report that the best-performing teachers in their schools receive the greatest recognition (e.g. rewards, additional training or responsibilities) or that a teacher would be dismissed for consistently underperforming (31%).

Given the importance attached to feedback by Professors Hattie, Wiliam et al it is worrying that many teachers surveyed see feedback systems in their schools as largely administrative tasks, disconnected from professional development.

 

Note

TALIS is the first international survey examining teaching and learning environments in schools. It asks teachers and school principals about their work, their schools and their classrooms. This cross-country analysis helps countries identify others facing similar challenges and learn about their policies.

http://www.oecd.org/education/TIF6.pdf

 

ACADEMIES-ARE THEY IN NEED OF A WAKE UP CALL? PROBABLY

 

The Charter school model ,  in the States, was  used, along with Free schools in Sweden, as  an inspiration for academy schools here, in England.

Charters are independent schools run by both for profit and not for profit companies that are independent of the local school boards and have a contract, or Charter , with the local authority. They are mainly small ,operate in disadvantaged areas and are quite  popular with parents. Some  individual schools and chains –such as KIPP-are very good indeed .   Others ,  less so.  I think its fair to say though  that the Charter movement  has   never come    very close to living up to   all the  initial  hype. After several years of experimentation and the expenditure of billions of dollars, charter schools and their teachers proved, on the whole, to be not much  more effective than traditional schools.  Indeed, they haven’t ,overall , established clear blue water between themselves and the local board schools, in terms of student performance . There are a number of reasons  as to why this might be the case.

They  operate in extremely disadvantaged areas,  and are often tasked with  transformung sink schools, which the local district has previously been unable to do. . Generally they are small  with less per capita funding than other  district  schools, (although KIPP tends to spend more per pupil than other district schools)  Initially at least,  proper due diligence, too often, wasnt undertaken  before  the contracts  were  signed. But  the point is that   the variability in their historical  performance  has   been a long running  issue , even for their supporters. (not just Republicans, by the way).  And the movements reputation has  suffered accordingly.

Arguably, the variable performance of academies, here, is in danger of becoming an issue too.

Here 63 % of all Secondary schools are now academies and  around 17% of Primaries. They are  clearly  facing big  challenges .Sponsored academies – of which there are now 1,100 – were intended to improve standards, particularly for the poorest students.

And, sponsored academies, generally, have improved faster than other schools, albeit from a lower base. Many, though still a minority, belong to chains – groups led by an educational charity, a university or a successful school. Sutton Trust analysis in July found that disadvantaged pupils in nine of 31 chains studied had better results than the average for all schools, while improvements in 18 chains were faster than average. Some well-known chains, like Harris and Ark, each with 27 academies, do particularly well. But the study also  confirmed that   the DFE is right to be  concerned that other chains, rather too many, that had grown very rapidly since 2010, are  under- performing.

The key challenge for academies has always been to improve the performance of the most disadvantaged pupils , those on free school meals, and to narrow the attainment gap between them and their peers . But  too many are  failing to perform better than maintained schools ,with similar intakes, despite having greater freedoms.

The DfE capped 14 academy chains in March, including the 77-school Academies Enterprise Trust. They must focus on improving their existing schools before being allowed further expansion. Ministers also forced another academy chain, E-Act, to transfer 10 of its 34 schools to other sponsors.It is not yet a crisis but there are concerns developing about the long tail of underachievers in the academies  family,

In terms of academies  overall performance, the statement from the recent  IOE report to the Education Select Committee  on Accountability, in September, seems fair:

‘’The benefits and impact of academies and academy sponsorship overall remain contested, but there is a strong argument that academy sponsors are mostly working to address underperformance in schools that face real challenges and where the previous Local Authority model has not proved effective’

There is strong evidence from Robert Hill, among others , to show that being part of a formal academy chain can have a significant impact on a schools performance, and  chains, comprising three or more academies, are improving faster than other academies.  However, and this is important  the Sutton Trust found in its report Chain Effects of July 2014  that ‘There is very significant variation in outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, both between and within chains; and chains differ significantly in attainment against different measures’.  And ‘When analysed against a range of Government indicators on attainment, a majority of the chains analysed still underperform the mainstream average on attainment for their disadvantaged pupils.   While some of those below the average are continuing to improve, others are not’

And, remember as we have pointed out  most academies are not part of a chain.

The biggest threat to the future academies is clear. Given they  were created to improve the performance of mainly disadvantaged pupils and to narrow the attainment gap, if  they fail to  deliver  this, or if only a small group of  elite academy chains are delivering this over time, then  it would be rash to assume that their future is  assured.  Make no mistake, politicians made academies so they can unmake them. We know that some academy chains are not performing as well as maintained schools. Not only is this a threat to the respective chains’ existence, it threatens the whole academies enterprise. We know that structures can be changed, over the short term.

Politicians probably don’t have the appetite for more structural reforms and want to focus  now on the curriculum, assessment  the quality of teaching and what happens in the classroom. But, the academies enterprise must take the issues of quality control along with  sound governance, much more seriously ,over the short and medium term,  in  order  to secure their future,.Its not yet a crisis, but there are potential  dangers  forming up on the near horizon.

REFORM OF ATTAINMENT LEVELS

 

A good opportunity for schools but with attendant  risks

Comment

For two decades, assessment in schools has been driven by the eight- (originally ten-) level structure that was proposed by the Task Group on Assessment and Testing (1987). What the Task Group proposed was that all students should be on the same ladder, with a common achievement scale for all students of compulsory school age. Professor Dylan Wiliam writes that ‘ the increasing pressure on schools to improve student achievement on national tests and examinations, combined with the behaviour of school inspectors, resulted in a situation in which pursuit of levels (or sub-levels!) of achievement displaced the learning that the levels were meant to represent. It is therefore not surprising that the National Curriculum Expert Panel (of which I was a member) proposed that the use of the TGAT assessment model should be discontinued (James, Oates, Pollard, & Wiliam, 2011).’

In March 2014, the Department for Education announced that while statutory assessment would continue at the end of each key stage, levels of achievement for assessing achievement during key stages would not be replaced. So, it  would be up to each school to decide how to monitor students’ progress towards the expectations for the end of each key stage (Department for Education, 2014).

The DFE believes the system had been overly  complicated and difficult to understand, especially for parents. It was also very subjective with level descriptors ambiguous. It  encouraged  too, teachers to focus on a pupil’s current level, rather than consider more broadly what the pupil can actually do. But, for all its faults, the system at least allowed achievement in all school subjects to be reported on a common scale.

The assessment framework should be built into the school curriculum, so that schools can check what pupils have learned and whether they are on track to meet expectations at the end of the key stage, and so that they can report regularly to parents.

The idea of internal assessment, devised by the school, and Ofsted using the system that the school devises, is quite a shift in thinking and practice.  Some schools will seek  to use a  system that approximates to the previous levels,although ,as Professor Wiliam notes ‘…there will be no straightforward way to carry the existing levels of achievement forward into the new national curriculum, since the new national curriculum will not provide descriptions of the levels.’

For any assessment reform to be successful there is a central point that must not be overlooked. That is that there has to be a shared understanding of assessment and some shared point of reference for assessment standards. It would also be useful too if assessment  was integral  to every teachers CPD, which it clearly isn’t, at present.

Arguably, though, this change potentially provides schools with the opportunity to design an assessment system that works for the individual school, rather than the other way round, and represents an extraordinary opportunity for schools.

There are concerns though that despite the good work being done by organisations such as the SSAT to support teachers and schools in highlighting the tools they need to design their assessment systems, some suggest that many schools are woefully underprepared for the changes. Potentially this will mean a huge variance in the competence and application of practice. The principles of good assessment are often better understood than the day to day practice.  There are trade-offs that are made in designing any assessment system, and, there will inevitably be costs and benefits of various decisions being made. Do schools know what these are?  The demise of assessment benchmarking without a cogent plan for replacement, introduces considerable risks into the system. The argument goes that you should sort out the replacement first, get a measure of consensus and then phase out the old and bring in the new. Maybe some piloting should have been run in a selection of schools or Academy chains? This autonomy idea is  sound in principle, but as the government is finding out, some schools are much better than others at  using their new freedoms ,wisely and efficiently.

Ofsted will, after all, continue to want to see spreadsheets and data, and some schools will inevitably end up getting hammered by Ofsted if they choose the ‘wrong’ assessment systems and cannot easily provide the data required, on demand.

The one important message coming out of these changes is that more thought needs to go into how to afford more practical support to schools in designing their assessment systems, for pupil’s performance and progress. The problem is probably   not so much lack of resources,  (although the DFE has produced little itself on this issue) but in  ensuring real  awareness among schools  of  the guidance and support that is available  so that they can take full advantage of  this.

The government has ‘signposted’ approaches, resources, etc via TES Community (http://community.tes.co.uk/national_curriculum_2014/b/assessment_without_levels/default.aspx)

 

This adds to the NAHT’s assessment framework which is available as a free resource to all (http://www.naht.org.uk/welcome/news-and-media/key-topics/assessment/naht-assessment-framework-materials/)

 

See SSAT  site-Principled Assessment Design

http://www.ssatuk.co.uk/comment/campaigns/redesigning-schooling/redesigning-schooling-pamphlet-series/

THINK TANK SAYS ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BECOME ACADEMIES-TO PRE-EMPT A PERFECT STORM

 

ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BECOME ACADEMIES

Policy Exchange report on Primary schools warns of a looming ‘perfect storm’ and urges reform

Comment

All maintained schools, both primary and secondary, should be converted into academies in the next five years, according to a report by the centre right think tank  Policy Exchange .

More than half (56%) of secondary schools are now academies; among primary schools, the figure is just 11%.

The report ‘Primary Focus’ states that one in five Primaries (3,000 schools) are at risk of failing from 2016 because of the introduction of tough new minimum standards in reading, writing and maths.

It says that English primary schools face “a perfect storm”, with a fifth of head teachers approaching retirement age, continuing cuts in local authority funding, and the introduction of a rigorous new national curriculum and assessment systems, which will put additional pressure on teachers.

The most effective way to address the considerable challenges, say the authors, Annaliese Briggs and Jonathan Simons, is to convert all primaries into academies in the next five years, encouraging them to join existing academy chains by 2020 so teachers can be properly supported and can focus on teaching and learning in the classroom, rather than administration.

While acknowledging that Academy status is no panacea in itself, the greater scale of a chain represents the best way to allow teachers and heads to focus on teaching and learning in the classroom rather than on form filling and other more administrative tasks. This will particularly benefit the significant number of small primary schools in England – there are currently 1,975 schools with fewer than 100 pupils and 113 schools with fewer than 30 pupils.

The report argues that moving all primary schools into being part of a formal (academy) grouping represents:

“The best way in which to drive greater strategic capacity and capability in the primary sector. It achieves this by establishing collaborative practices around teaching and learning, by supporting teachers and individual school leaders to focus on what happens in classrooms, and by supporting a culture of continuous improvement and development. In turn, these actions improve outcomes.

Although, under these proposals, primary schools would become separate from local authorities, LAs could  choose to set up their own arm’s length chain or learning trust, which provides an interesting avenue for LA re-engagement with schools.

Other recommendations include:

All remaining local authority secondary schools should also become Academies over the same time period, as should special schools. While these schools would not be obliged to join chains, they should be encouraged to partner with others as part of a wider move towards a school led, self-improving system.

Individual schools should, for the first time, be able to switch between chains providing they are rated Good or Outstanding and given a year’s notice. This will allow for greater competition and fluidity in the market, and prevent any academy chain building a local monopoly of offering a poor service for a long period of time.

The role of Regional School Commissioners or Directors of School Standards should be beefed up. They should have responsibility for overseeing and approving the emergence of these new chains as well as existing ones. They should also be able to split chains up and move schools in the case of underperformance as the DfE currently does now.

Primary chains should think about how they can work closely with early years providers to support continued improvements in quality in the early years sector. Greater co-operation offers the chance of more effective working between early years settings and graduate teachers in the primary phase, as well as co-ordination on curriculum, and the opportunity for more location of early years settings within schools

Sir David Carter, the newly appointed regional schools commissioner for south-west England, enthusiastically backed the report and called for a fundamental change to the way we approach primary education: “An entirely autonomous, academised system is a vision I wholly endorse. Not because of a statistical quest to have every school an academy, but because the academy in which you work will be part of a wider family and the independence this brings creates opportunity for innovation and choice.”

Sir David  writes in the preface ‘ Collaboration works well in a variety of contexts but the common thread that  runs through this report is that working in isolation is no longer an option.  Working together is an enabling act especially when the volume and scale of the challenge is hard.’

The Department for Education defended the changes facing primary schools. “The new national curriculum and more rigorous floor standards will match the best in the world and equip every child for life in modern Britain. As a result of our reforms and the dedication of teachers, 80,000 more children are reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths than five years ago.”

There has been a reluctance ,among  some Primary  schools,  for a number of reasons  , to become academies.  With the political agenda moving away from structures, to what happens in the classroom,   and the quality of teaching,  its interesting to see that Policy Exchange is now  seeking to refocus the debate on structures, against the backdrop of what they see as a looming crisis. Collaboration between schools and groups of schools, of course , remains vital to help  improve student outcomes , but what could stick in the craw,  with  some, is the element of prescription  implicit here. Rather  than   developing a range of incentives, to foster meaningful collaboration, across the system, bottom up , this all looks a bit like  top down  prescription. Maybe thats what is needed now, but it  will be against the grain for  quite a few Heads .

Primary Focus- The next stage of improvement for primary schools in England ,Annaliese Briggs and Jonathan Simons-Policy Exchange-September 2014

http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/images/publications/primary%20focus.pdf

LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND DISADVANTAGED PUPILS

Local authorities’ receive ministerial warning on disadvantaged

Comment

The present Government cites ‘Raising the achievement of disadvantaged children’ as one of ten schools policies it is pursuing. The policy description describes the issue thus:

‘Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to get good GCSE results. Attainment statistics published in January 2014 show that in 2013 37.9% of pupils who qualified for free school meals got 5 GCSEs, including English and mathematics at A* to C, compared with 64.6% of pupils who do not qualify.

We believe it is unacceptable for children’s success to be determined by their social circumstances. We intend to raise levels of achievement for all disadvantaged pupils and to close the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.’

The main, though not exclusive, policy lever for addressing the challenge presented by disadvantaged pupils, is the Pupil Premium ,extra funding given to schools based on the number of FSM pupils. Within the autonomous schools system it is up to schools to decide how this money is spent, amid some concerns that it is not always used to support interventions that are evidence based.

Local authorities complain that although they have a responsibility for school improvement ,within the  autonomous system they have limited resources, information  and levers to support schools  that need improving.

Nonetheless,  David Laws, the schools minister, wrote to 87 local authorities in March and April 2014, raising his concerns about the 2013 examination results of disadvantaged pupils in particular maintained schools within their areas, and asking them to support those schools’ improvement. The recipient list and criteria are below and will be published on GOV.UK shortly.

Letters were sent to local authorities where ministerial letters had been sent in the spring to a small number of maintained schools expressing concern about the progress of disadvantaged pupils at key stage 2, and the progress and/or overall attainment of disadvantaged pupils at key stage 4. Letters were also sent to local authorities where the average GCSE results of disadvantaged pupils across all of their maintained schools declined between 2011 and 2013 or between 2012 and 2013.


Local authorities in receipt of letters:

 

Barking and Dagenham

Barnsley

Bath & NE Somerset

Birmingham

Blackburn with Darwen

Blackpool

Bolton

Bracknell Forest

Bradford

Brent

Bristol

Bury

Cambridgeshire

Bedfordshire

Cheshire East

Cornwall

Cumbria

Derbyshire

Devon

Doncaster

Dorset

Dudley

Durham

East Sussex

Essex

Gateshead

Gloucestershire

Hammersmith & Fulham

Hampshire

Hartlepool

Hertfordshire

Isle of Wight

Kent

Kirklees

Knowsley

Lancashire

Leeds

Leicester city

Leicestershire

Lincolnshire

Manchester

Merton

Norfolk

North Lincolnshire

North Somerset

North Yorkshire

Northamptonshire

Northumberland

Nottingham City

Nottinghamshire

Oxfordshire

Peterborough

Portsmouth

Richmond upon Thames

Rotherham

Salford

Sandwell

Sefton

Sheffield

Shropshire

Slough

Somerset

South Gloucestershire

Southampton

Southend

Staffordshire

Stockport

Stockton-on-Tees

Stoke on Trent

Suffolk

Surrey

Swindon

Tameside

Trafford

Wakefield

Walsall

Warrington

Warwickshire

West Berkshire

West Sussex

Wigan

Wiltshire

Wirral

Wolverhampton

Worcestershire

York

Ps I  was at a lecture the other day on social mobility and a teacher  in a London academy told us that his school was  using the Pupil Premium in innovative ways,. One example he  offered was buying , alarm clocks for all  FSM pupils. Presumably none of  his  pupils had access to mobiles. The  PP is supposed to be used for interventions that are known to be effective. I have scanned the EEF Toolkit and am not entirely surprised to find nothing on the effective use of alarm clocks to secure better outcomes for pupils. Schools have to be careful how they use this extra funding because they will be held accountable.

 

INSPIRING TEACHERS-ARE REFORMS HELPING THEM?

Does  school autonomy support inspiring teachers?

What are the characteristics of an inspiring teacher?

Comment

A study of 36 inspiring teachers, in CFBT Education Trust schools, by researchers from Oxford and Worcester Universities,  found that many participating   teachers  are worried that  their autonomy had been reduced and their working conditions suffered as a result of  recent reforms.

The project involved teachers from CfBT Schools Trust schools, all nominated by their headteachers as particularly inspiring. By observing these teachers delivering lessons, and interviewing them, their colleagues and their students, the research identified characteristics of more effective teaching, including developing positive relationships; having good classroom management; creating a positive and supportive climate; providing formative feedback; delivering high quality learning experiences; and emphasising enjoyment in learning.

The main aim of the research was ‘ to provide robust new evidence about both inspiring teachers and inspiring teaching from different perspectives to increase understanding of these widely used but elusive and often poorly defined concepts.’ The research sought to address the following questions:

What do inspiring teachers say about their practice?

What do inspiring teachers do in their classrooms?

What are their students’ views and experiences?

The research found that many teachers were becoming disillusioned with work, reflecting disquiet at current education reforms seen  as badly reducing teacher autonomy and working conditions, increasing workloads and distracting from classroom work.

Many teachers drew attention to their worries in this area and expressed concern and disagreement with what they saw as external interference by central government. “The majority had strong and negative views about recent changes in the national curriculum, national assessment and examinations. They saw these changes as highly political and felt they had produced great confusion and work overload, and lacked clarity. The changes were seen to have shifted the focus from engaging students and innovating in teaching to managing change and achieving targets with too much focus on tests and examination results.”

“Teachers felt they had put in more time and that their past efforts in developing their resources and planning were being wasted, including having to replace expensive texts and materials because of curriculum and exam changes,” the research added.

But, encouragingly,  “ despite external challenges, nearly all want to continue in their teaching careers, they genuinely like  students and enjoy teaching, and they show resilience in the stressful and fast-changing educational  environment”.

The two characteristics most frequently mentioned by teachers with regard to inspiring teachers   were Enthusiasm for teaching and Positive  relationships with students. Both these two main features reflect the nature of teaching as an interactive and social activity that engages the emotions. They are followed by less commonly identified characteristics such as Flexibility, Relevant teaching, Safe and stimulating classroom climate, Positive classroom management, Reflectiveness and Innovative teaching.

 

Effective Collaboration and shared evidence based practice  have been flagged up by academics (Hargreaves Fullan et al) as key to improving teacher and student outcomes. So what does this research say about that?

 

‘The degree to which the school ethos is one that promotes positive and collaborative relationships  among teachers was also considered a very important factor, noted by approximately half of the  interviewees. The motivation from collaboration and the role of mentoring were also highlighted by some. Most teachers reported that their school had some type of professional development programme in place, such as breakfast training sessions, INSET days, etc. A number of teachers considered collaborative and personalised learning, with colleagues within their school, to be their preferred form of professional development. Teachers were asked about their professional development needs. The areas that they identified for further development were highly diverse but the three most common areas teachers wanted to improve were:

  • subject knowledge
  • differentiation
  • IT skills.’

 

As for as students are concerned  their overall ratings indicate that they strongly believe their teachers:

  • have high expectations for students, and positive relationships with them
  • create a positive, supportive and reassuring classroom climate
  • provide clear instructional goals and well-structured lessons
  • are approachable, fair and helpful
  • transmit their enjoyment of learning to students
  • promote positive learning experiences, attitudes, engagement and motivation.

 

The report concluded:

‘This project has sought to understand what is meant by inspiring practice by drawing on different sources of evidence. The main evidence is a triangulation based on teachers’ voices expressed through interviews, what we saw in the classroom (from both quantitative observation schedules and qualitative field notes) and students’ views (from a questionnaire survey).  Each source offers rich information and some unique contributions. Nonetheless there are strong  overlaps that add to the robustness of our conclusions. Figure 6.1, following, shows the overlap between these various sources and perspectives. The teachers showed strongly the characteristics of more effective teaching. In terms of inspiring practice at the core we can highlight:

  • positive relationships
  • good classroom/behaviour management
  • positive and supportive climate
  • formative feedback
  • high quality learning experiences
  • enjoyment.

These teachers show a high degree of engagement with their students; they are effective, organised and knowledgeable practitioners who exhibit a continued passion for teaching and for promoting the well-being of students. They are highly professional, confident and reflective practitioners.  Despite external challenges, nearly all want to continue in their teaching careers, they genuinely like students and enjoy teaching, and they show resilience in the stressful and fast-changing educational environment. In observing their classes there was a strong emphasis on making learning enjoyable   engaging, activating students’ own motivation; classroom experiences were typically varied, imaginative and ‘fun’. These inspiring teachers value the support they receive from leaders and colleagues in their schools. They are keen to work with and support colleagues, often through their particular leadership roles in their schools. Overall, they are committed professionals who continue to learn and improve their own practice and seek out opportunities and networks for professional development aligned to their needs and interests. This report has sought to highlight what we can learn from their inspiring practice’.

 

Inspiring teachers:  perspectives and practices

Summary report

Professor Pam Sammons, Dr Alison Kington,  Ariel Lindorff-Vijayendran, Lorena Ortega

Edited by Anna Riggall

CFBT Education Trust-2014

http://cdn.cfbt.com/~/media/cfbtcorporate/files/research/2014/r-inspiring-teachers-summary-2014.pdf