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Teachers or Facilitators - what do schools need?


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#1 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 11 June 2003 - 04:55 PM

Teachers or facilitators – is this the end of the profession?

I took a cover lesson today, maths. Expecting the usual scrabble around for the work which was set by my absent colleague, I was amazed and relieved as the normally hyperactive year eights shuffled in, and without prompting, dished out the textbooks, exercise books and all turned to the page they were up to previously.

“Measuring cubic volume” was to be the cardiac-inducing excitement for the next fifty minutes. I thought to myself - how on earth could you make that interesting? It didn’t bother the pupils as they quietly ploughed on with their sums. I sat there for 50 minutes bored rigid, wishing I had been put down for some GCSE invigilation instead. The textbook was so straight forward even I could understand how to work out the volume of various sized boxes and cubes, and I thought how useful this skill would be later on this evening.

It struck me that maybe our esteemed rulers are right – perhaps you don’t need teachers in the classroom – maybe teaching assistants (TAs) could supervise the kids while one teacher per cluster of schools wrote lesson plans and marked work? It would solve the education crisis in one fell swoop – employ TAs at a fraction of the wage, they wouldn’t need qualifications – just fill in the form on page 12 of the Daily Mail, Mrs Wilson and you can show those teachers how its done!

Those of us left in the education sector could be facilitators – allowing students to follow their own learning pathways along the ready-prepared and prescribed National Curricula (with little tick-boxes for numeracy, literacy, science, ICT, citizenship, personal, social, health and moral education encountered in each lesson). We facilitators would write individual lesson plans for each of the children in the teaching groups, based on computerised tests taken when they were 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 years old, and the TA or person-off-the-street would deliver the lesson! They could even deliver a lesson to several classes at once via video-link and the students would be supervised using CCTV controlled by a private security firm! Think of the savings!

It would free up the teachers, sorry, facilitators, to do more important tasks like half-termly progress reports on the students, assessment spreadsheets and NC level tracking charts. We would be able to inform parents that their little Johnny has progressed from Level 3.25 to 3.36 over February because he has started to use full-stops at the end of his sentences!

I am seriously convinced that the staid old teaching profession needs a good shake-up, and more roles from the successful, lean, efficient private sector need introducing. Improved job titles such as Team Leader for History Facilitators (LHFs) , and Executive responsible for Curriculum Delivery Associates (ECDAs) would undoubtedly attract more people into a modernised and streamlined education sector.

Admittedly, I neglected to mention my other lesson today, an off-the cuff history lesson with one of my year nine groups. After dealing with a scuffle in the corridor, and pulled up the kids in hoodies and trainers, I read an extract from ‘To Make the People Smile Again’, a recent book by George Wheeler, a local man who fought in the Spanish Civil War with the International Brigades. (I happened to have the book in my bag) We had a great discussion about the motives of a young man who went off to fight in a foreign land in a war which on paper he should have had no concerns. Morality, duty, loyalty, family ties, nationality and other aspects of the human spirit were explored, as well as a potted history of the war in Spain which fired them up to embark upon a research project into the International Brigades for homework over the next fortnight.

I am sorry to say that my ECDA would have failed my curriculum delivery for that lesson as no lesson plan was produced, and more than likely it would not have been statutory material for the National Curriculum for History. Ah well, maybe Mrs Wilson would have passed it with a detailed lesson plan and some specially prepared worksheets.
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#2 Richard Drew

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Posted 11 June 2003 - 06:29 PM

I think that you have highlighted a number of very important issues here Dafydd, not least the fact that different subjects require very different techniques. The Maths lesson you describe is one of the main reasons i never mention to anyone at my school that I have a Maths A-Level, i really don't want to end up teaching maths, because you don't really get to teach in terms of what i regard as teaching, but rather you facilitate activity.

However i am very proud to tell anyone who asks that i see my main role in the History classroom as a facilitator of learning, although in a very different sense to the 'classroom assistant' approach you so rightly describe.

I find that increasingly i go through lessons 'teaching' the students very little or nothing, but i do a great deal to facilitate their learning through focused open questioning, thinking skills activities involving paradoxes/images/key info etc, kinaesthetic activities and so on. this is very often far more taxing upon me than good old fashioned 'teaching', but also far more effective.

i guess that in a nutshell what i am saying is that i feel my role to be a 'facilitator of understanding' rather than a 'teacher of knowledge'.

facilitators of activity can go to subjects that only need this: those where knowledge is gained through repetition of tasks, but in history i believe that the future lies with the facilitators of understanding - through the ever expanding variety of excellent ideas generated by members of this site amongst other places.
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#3 John Simkin

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 06:47 AM

Daffyd raises the important question for any committed educationalist. What is the purpose of schooling? This debate has been going on in Britain since the introduction of compulsory education at the end of the 19th century. One of the promoters of state education, James Kay Suttleworth, saw it as a means to rear “the population in obedience to the laws, in submission to their superiors, and to fit them to strengthen the institutions of their country.” What R. H. Tawney later described as a “system devised by one class for the discipline of another”.

Others saw schooling as providing an opportunity to develop in the working class a moral framework which emphasised “an oppositional interpretation of class inequalities”. This tradition has remained and on my PGCE course in 1977-78 there was a significant number of students who had a strong desire to teach against the dominant ideology. These students were invariably being trained to become History, English and Sociology teachers. I did not come across any who were planning to teach Maths, Science or Modern Languages.

Daffyd’s history lesson could be interpreted as an attempt to teach against the dominant ideology. Partly because of the methodology but more importantly because of the book he used. For example, would he have been willing to use Roy Campbell’s Flowering Rifle or Eoin O'Duffy’s Crusade in Spain in the lesson instead of the book by George Wheeler? I ask the question because these are two accounts of people who took the same risks as Wheeler in order to defend fascism rather than republicanism. If these books had been used the learning outcomes of the lesson would have been very different.

The problem for all those who wish to teach against the dominant ideology is that they are unable to undermine the main purpose of schooling – the legitimisation of inequality. A school system with streaming, exams, grading, class positions, etc. will develop the aspirations of a minority but at the same time it will gradually lower the expectations and self-esteem of the majority. For the later, this contributes towards preparing them for low-status occupations. This is a vital role of schooling for as Clarence J. Karier has pointed out: “If a man truly believes that he has a marginal standard of living because he is inferior, he is less likely to take violent measures against that social system than if he believes his condition a product of social privilege.”

Daffyd is of course right to suggest that it is now possible to replace teachers with facilitators. If the government wanted to it could employ a small group of teachers to produce online learning materials (they would then be dismissed after they had produced all the necessary lessons). The staff of the school would then mainly comprise of teaching assistants and armed security guards. Students could be forced to sit in front of their computers until they had completed the necessary number of exercises. The work would be marked by the computer and the student would receive regular feedback about their performance and therefore it would be an efficient way of preparing them for their future role in society.

Although this would be a far cheaper way of educating (training) our people it has one major disadvantage. It too clearly illustrates the purpose of schooling. It might even increase resistance to authority.

Therefore I do not expect this system to be introduced. However, it is inevitable that given the technology now available, it is in the interests of the government to reduce the numbers of qualified teachers in schools and to replace them with low paid teaching assistants, technicians and security guards. The unions will obviously fight these changes. However, I do not give them much chance of success. After all, when was the last time trade unionists won an industrial dispute.

Edited by John Simkin, 12 June 2003 - 06:51 AM.


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Posted 12 June 2003 - 09:10 AM

Witty, intelligent if somewhat depressing John.
It reminds me of a common response from many of my A1 Sociology students when they study the Education unit and are exposed to non-dominant ideology thinking
"Why weren't we told this before?"

#5 John Simkin

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 09:26 AM

Witty, intelligent if somewhat depressing John.

I did not know that I had included any jokes. Not depressing because some people always escape the brainwashing process. While that happens, reform is always possible. In fact, it is essential if the capitalist system is to survive.

I first developed these views as an 18 year old trade unionist when I began asking questions about how I ended up working in a factory. When I was training to be a teacher my tutors provided the academic background to these views. This view of education was rejected by the majority of students but at least them came into contact with these ideas. Out of interest, were recent PGCE students taught about the history of state education with the various theories of why the government at the time considered it was such a good idea?

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 10:51 AM

Out of interest, were recent PGCE students taught about the history of state education with the various theories of why the government at the time considered it was such a good idea?

I'm by no stretch of the imagination "recent" but even in 1988 PGCE's were well down the road towards the "sheep dip" approach that's current now.

What I find most depressing is the proliferation of school based TT where there is NO opportunity for sociology, history, philosophy or psychology. Not only because it is designed to create unthinking operatives rather than educators, but also because teachers themselves need some sort of "inspiration" and vision to survive 35 years in this profession. I'm not sure they're getting it.

I share your view of the role of schooling in capitalist society but do my best to "educate" where the opportunity arises!

I'm not sure "reform" is the answer though brother (or was that the joke?? ;) )

#7 Stephen Drew

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 10:14 PM

To get back to what I believe was the original purpose of this seminar, and so raise its value to the pool of teachers and student teachers who are reading these seminars in search of undestanding and inspiration, I will add my thoughts on the matter.

I see myself as, and try to encourage other teachers to be, a teacher who facilitates. One of the things that marks out the successful from the unsuccessful teacher is the understanding that a lesson should be developed around the skills process involved in delivering the content, not the other way around. In this respect I stand at the front of my class with the aim of facilitating the personal development of my students by teaching them how to develop this.

On the wall outside our Head's office is a pyramid diagram about the most effective methods of teaching and learning. It is something that I am sure people have seen many times. It is the one about how much of something students remember if you deliver it to them in a number of ways. So at the bottom it says "I remember 10% if you tell me", and at the top it says "I remember 90% if I do it myself" - or something like that (it is late on a Friday night after all!)

I hold to this pyramid and its basic principles about effective teaching and learning. Therefore I could be arguing that my role in the classroom is not to teach students in the traditional sense of the word. I am not there to fill them with knowledge, I am there to create the environment in which they can learn and develop according to their own styles and requirements. I will explain what has to be done, provide the materials for the students to do their learning, then help them to find out what they need to know, before creating opportunities for them to communicate what they have learned in order that they might be able fully reach their personal potential.

So does this make my teacing ethos that of a faciliator? After all am I not describing a situation in which I am on the outside of the learning process, simply creating the environment for learning and providing the resources for students to develop themselves? Could this not be done by me for say 6 schools in Harlow at once and then for dozens at once? The actual control of the class could be left to a suitably responsible person who could get the children to behave and focus on the work / learning for the required period of time. That person could then ask the students my predetermined set of plenary questions in the correct order, targeting them at the right level of ability students before setting the homework and sending me their students' exercise books by courier each day?

So therefore facilitators are perfectly acceptable and will still deliver the goods?

Absolutely not.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a facilitator, but I am also a teacher. I am only able to facilitate the learning of students because I am a trained and skilled teacher. I can see where things are going well and where they are going badly. I know when to divert from my plans and pursue a more fruitful avenue of learning. I know which questions to ask and in which order because I understand my students. I do not always get it right, but because I am a reflective practitioner I am hyper self-critical and always strive for improvement.

My lessons only work becuase I develop them from my experience, observations and knowledge of my students. Without this I cannot develop the lessons and they will not work. I almost never lift a lesson straight out a textbook because it is not written for my students and is not my work. I cannot facilitate the learning of my classes if I do not know how to teach them to learn and develop.

So to some extent I agree with Dafydd's original post that started off this thread. It is patently ridiculous to suggest that untrained and unqualified people could be put in charge of classes on a regular and long term basis. They can facilitate dry and uninspired work, maybe even a bit of learning, but not real success and not real progress by students. Only a professionally trained, experienced and qualified teacher can do that.

However at heart I am a teacher who sees his role as the facilitation of learning and development by my students. So in that respect my take on Dafydd's choice of title for the seminar is perhaps different to what he originally intended. Schools need teachers who facilitate learning, not people who just seek to facilitate classroom control and uninspired learning. So in that respect I agree with you Dafydd.
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#8 Nichola Boughey

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 12:23 AM

I am a teacher - not a facilitator!

This week I taught the Ghettos to Yr. 9. If we followed the facilitator approach then a TA could have handed out a worksheet, read through it and set the girls on task! What do they really learn from that? The dry facts!

I have trained for my job and I am paid to act, enthuse, stimulate and hopefully educate the students in front of me. In my lesson I combined emotional narrative, stimulating poetry and the use of ICT - I did it all!

All three classes who have experienced this lesson with me this week have been stunned, shocked, taken on an emotional rollercoaster, challenged and even those not taking GCSE History were definitely educated.

So how could my time have been better spent?

1. Completing the 7 sets of reports currently sitting in my tray!
2. Marking the 2 sets of Yr. 10 papers.
3. Marking my Yr. 7 exercise books.
4. Telephoning primary schools to sort out my journalism project.
5. Organising the details of a Social Science Competition.

Yes - I could have done all of this with a TA minding my class- but a facilitator in the classroom does not bring passion, enthusiasm and knowledge to the lesson - a teacher does and that is why I do all of the other stuff in frees and at lunchtime and after school!

Just a point of view! :teacher:

#9 neil mcdonald

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 12:15 PM

I hold the view that with planning and imagination teachers are both. The difference between the Teacher and the facilitator lies in the ability to empart and embed knowledge either of content or skills - the faciliataor merely offers an avenue for this knowledge to be recognised.

I have used faciliation techniques in independent research projects in which the students become teachers to each other but, at first as a teacher I has to highlight learning skills, communication skills and how to research effectively.

I do think that the education world will have to adapt to the pace and access to information so I do agree with Dafydd on that point. However as Stephen said that fact that we are Teachers makes us able to adapt our teaching to accomodate facilitation in our teaching - we can be imaginative not just a conveyer system of education factories.

Let us shake up the system! The TES are refering to the need to be creative - well lets be that - so many on this forum do this regularly I can't see where the lines between a faciliator of learning and the teacher begins or ends.

Q) How do we teach in a Homework environment - or are thern a faciliator?
Q) How do we make sure students don't think that learning is in the classroom but throughout the school/community?
Q) How can we be more creative in a curriculum that has ever more constraints?

In conclusion the main difference between the faciliator and teacher is the ability for Teachers to adapt and be creative - lets be that then.

Just had a look at the 2002 Vision 2020 on-line conference - there is a discussion paper on this see Facilitation/Teaching

Edited by neil mcdonald, 14 June 2003 - 07:07 PM.

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#10 John

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Posted 21 June 2003 - 12:01 PM

Last year I passed my P.G.C.E and I am confused even over the definition of a 'teacher' let alone a teacher or a facilitator, surely these two terms are not mutally exclusive in any educational sense.
In my final evaluation from my second placement my school supervisor wrote this about my performance, 'John has had an average placement, we feel he has made suitable progress in several areas of his professional development, but we feel he must improve his classroom management techniques and lesson planing." Vague is the first word that springs to mind. The comment on classroom management came from one incident where the only available class for my supervisor to so call 'assess' was bottom set Year 9. The comment on lesson planning came from a 'spot check' for my lesson plan which I didn't have in the classroom. It didn't matter that I was teaching 'The Great War' which also happened to be my special subject which I studied for over year at University. The point being is that my time on the P.G.C.E qualification was a complete waste of time. Not at one point did I get the sense I was entering a profession, I learnt nothing that I couldn't have worked out for myself if I had simply taken a job after my degree in a school and was left to my own devices. In fact I worked out that quite quickly that I was working for a slave wage, well below the minimum wage, teaching classes and doing jobs that one elso wanted.
It seems to me that debate about teacher or facilitator is a semantic arguement and doesn't deal with the reality of the teaching environment in Britain. It covers the issues in pervasive language. To answer John Simkin question - We were taught about the history of state education, but unfortunately the central concepts were not dealt with in such an way as criticise the over arching motivation for the job we were about to undertake.
If teaching is a professional job, a professional entity, why does everybody pass the P.G.C.E? You either pass the course or drop out because you can't stand shouting at kids for eight hours a day. In reality, my teaching last year was of a poor standard, to a degree that I feel I should have never passed the course, but this was no reflection of on me, it was a reflection of the sub-standard conditions in British schools. The university and the school knows this so therefore they pass everyone. I know for a fact there were people who passed the P.G.C.E who shouldn't have passed. In the law profession if you are not sharp enough for the profession you can't get through the test. What does teaching have as a quantive assessment the GTTR skills tests, where I'm asked to sit in room and take a test I could have passed when I was 14. I was neither a teacher or a facilitator last year, just a baby sitter who had to fill out loads of forms and was often criticised for not filling out bits of paper in correct fashion. A lesson goes bad and I must 'critically reflect' on my mistakes, if you don't fill out 'teaching files' you can't pass the course.
Teachers make the comment that TA can't perform the role of the teacher, in the current situation in Britain I would argue they can. How hard is it give books out and say turn to page to 10, because this is the level that teachers operate on in Britain. I have seen it with my own eyes. Bad practice indeed, but it is everywhere, endemic in every school. In most of the school's you work in, you will know teachers like this, even if you will not publically admit to knowing. Year 10 being given historical crosswords. So on so forth. Face it, teaching just is not a profession anymore. I personally sympathise with the bad practioners of the world, whose lives resemble office filling clerks, the kids resemble football hooligans, the management wouldn't know an orginal idea if fell out of the tree.
My university asked me to read a book about multiple intelligence, which I did read and tried to glean from some infomation. The central concept I took from the book was that everybody has different learning styles which help us process infomation in different way. The practical application of the infomation was vary your teaching methods to encompass a variety of styles. Yet the G.C.S.E's only test in one style. University applications can only be written in one style. Job applications are written in one style. People don't say 'O.K kinesthic learner we are going to give you a kinesthic interview.' If the world works in this way, why in a history lesson can I be critised for not doing a kinesthic activity. One suggestion to me was as an approach to history teaching I might try a 'freeze'. A group of kids pretend to be in social historical setting and then they freeze and I walk aroung explain who is who etc... So I did this in an assessed lesson, and praise was heaped upon me. Next lesson not one person could remember a thing about social life in 18thc. Britain.

#11 John Simkin

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Posted 24 June 2003 - 09:26 AM

Last year I passed my P.G.C.E and I am confused even over the definition of a 'teacher' let alone a teacher or a facilitator, surely these two terms are not mutally exclusive in any educational sense.

... my time on the P.G.C.E qualification was a complete waste of time.  Not at one point did I get the sense I was entering a profession, I learnt nothing that I couldn't have worked out for myself if I had simply taken a job after my degree in a school and was left to my own devices.  In fact I worked out that quite quickly that I was working for a slave wage, well below the minimum wage, teaching classes and doing jobs that one elso wanted.

It seems to me that debate about teacher or facilitator is a semantic arguement and doesn't deal with the reality of the teaching environment in Britain.  It covers the issues in pervasive language.  To answer John Simkin question - We were taught about the history of state education, but unfortunately the central concepts were not dealt with in such an way as criticise the over arching motivation for the job we were about to undertake. 

If teaching is a professional job, a professional entity, why does everybody pass the P.G.C.E?  You either pass the course or drop out because you can't stand shouting at kids for eight hours a day.  In reality, my teaching last year was of a poor standard, to a degree that I feel I should have never passed the course, but this was no reflection of on me, it was a reflection of the sub-standard conditions in British schools. The university and the school knows this so therefore they pass everyone. I know for a fact there were people who passed the P.G.C.E who shouldn't have passed.

John raises some very important points and is a savage indictment of our education system.

It is not a new development for poor students to be passed to enter the teaching profession. The same thing happened in my year at Sussex (1977-78). Some of the worst students dropped out but others carried on regardless and passed. It was also clear from my teaching practice that there were qualified teachers who should never have been allowed to enter the profession. The one thing that I agreed with Chris Woodhead about was that there is a significant percentage of the teaching profession who are not up to the job (not that anything he did helped to improve this situation).

Why does this situation continue? The short answer is that the government need a surplus of teachers available to Britain’s schools. This applies pressure on those in work to behave themselves. It is difficult for unions to negotiate a better deal for teachers if there is a surplus. This is how our market economy works. When I began work in the printing trade in 1960 the number of apprentices allowed to enter the profession was controlled by the unions. I soon discovered why the unions insisted on this. In this way they kept the number of unemployed printers down to a minimum and therefore increased their bargaining power. Our high incomes was based on this principle.

There is nothing new about allowing poor teachers to enter the profession. What is changing is the role that the teachers are playing. This is happening so fast that John is able to argue that the “teacher or facilitator is a semantic argument and doesn't deal with the reality of the teaching environment in Britain.”

In my view the Key Stage 3 strategy in a further development in changing a teacher into a facilitator. I am convinced that within a few years the government will have commissioned companies or organizations to produce “exemplary” online lessons for every part of the national curriculum. While this may help some of the poorly performing teachers it will severely damage the creative, committed teachers producing good lessons against the odds. It will also make it more difficult for the unions to defend the pay and conditions of its members.

#12 neil mcdonald

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Posted 24 June 2003 - 10:39 AM

In my view the Key Stage 3 strategy in a further development in changing a teacher into a facilitator. I am convinced that within a few years the government will have commissioned companies or organizations to produce “exemplary” online lessons for every part of the national curriculum. While this may help some of the poorly performing teachers it will severely damage the creative, committed teachers producing good lessons against the odds. It will also make it more difficult for the unions to defend the pay and conditions of its members.

A worrying development John. The idea of the creative teachers that innovate and offer dynamic lessons could be seen as a dying breed with the advent of exemplar material is a distinct possibility but then again, I think back to the time when teachers began to use video and TV as opposed to the textbook and then the development of IT in the classroom and I am warmed by the fact that no matter what there will always be teachers who stretch the boundaries of convention by their desire to teach.

Maybe the government will create resources for every lesson but the deathknell for teaching is only when they force us to use it.
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#13 Andrew Field

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Posted 24 June 2003 - 03:47 PM

But the Key Stage 3 strategy is designed to promote innovative and dynamic teaching techniques - encouraging good practice with things that all good teachers have always done, offering pacy, exciting lessons with clear objectives.

The only part of the Key Stage 3 strategy that has offered prepared lessons has been the ICT strategy - and this has been specifically because many ICT teachers are actually teachers of other subjects, and thus need materials. It would indeed be an awful day when each lesson is pre-prepared for you via government instruction, but I really don't see the KS3 strategy as this.

The entire thing is optional, but of course recommended. There is nothing in the Key Stage 3 strategy to force teachers to be facilitators. In fact I personally feel that the Key Stage 3 strategy actually pushes the situation further back towards teachers being teachers!

The Key Stage 3 strategy ecourages use of good teaching practice that can help all teachers. From its impact on my school it has been really, really positive. Each department has been forced to evaluate their teaching techniques and all have improved because of this. The strategy audit has forced departments to wake up and realise that they have to make use of ICT, differentiate activities fully and provide lessons that engage and encourage students to learn.

I fundamentally believe the KS3 strategy has had an immense positive impact - it has forced teachers to develop better lessons. It hasn't provided resources, but rather provided the opportunity and the encouragement to share good practice.

Before the KS3 strategy I could never have imagined representatives of each department sharing their ideas in the context of "One thing we find really effective is...."; "Something we'd like to develop further is....".

In terms of my own role I've now had departments approaching me and asking to do the things I want them to do. No way has this pushed teachers to be facilitators - it has encouraged teachers to do what they do best AND make the most of great ideas and try new techniques in the classroom.

It may just be the brilliant way it has been handled by the people responsible at my school, but I have been amazed and really, really impressed by its impact.


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#14 neil mcdonald

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Posted 24 June 2003 - 05:44 PM

I think that the way it is 'spun' does have an impact but what I do see is a turn towards a homogonised lesson - little dynamic involvement. Andrew you are right in that the KS3 Strategy has enabled the ability to be more innovative but how does this relate to school strategies?
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#15 Andrew Field

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Posted 24 June 2003 - 06:17 PM

I think that the way it is 'spun' does have an impact but what I do see is a turn towards a homogonised lesson - little dynamic involvement. Andrew you are right in that the KS3 Strategy has enabled the ability to be more innovative but how does this relate to school strategies?

The KS3 strategy merely espouses a three part lesson. This is fundamental good practice whether you trained in the 1950s or 1990s. There is no rigour attached to the strategy - it suggests good practice. You use the bits you like, you don't use the bits you don't.

Surely you've answered your question yourself about school strategies - the fact the strategy allows you to be innovative. As I mentioned before, the KS3 strategy has forced all departments to evaluate their current practice. If you have a look at the KS3 Audit form

This asks a department to complete an honest audit into their current practice - what they feel they do well, where they'd like to improve and so on. This is nothing any good department wouldn't be doing anyway, but the KS3 strategy has formalised the process, creating the whole-school need to make sure each department keeps up. It is an excellent document to have on hand and completed, allowing Threshold, OFSTED, HMI or whatever friends are visiting you at the time to see how the department is working, and how they plan to improve in the future.

My school has approached this from a 'whole school' angle, and thus I'm seeing this very much from my perspective, particularly someone who had some significant changes to push out to the entire school, and to encourage departments to focus on their own work. The KS3 strategy has been an excellent vehicle for this. What I've liked even more though is that it has stimulated discussion, creating the situation where people feel confident to share their viewpoints and ideas.

It now moves towards KS4 and is the most successful whole-school strategy that I've experienced so far. Yet some might say it is the only whole-school strategy that I've experiened so far....

Whatever, I stand by what I say in that I'm certain the KS3 strategy has moved us further away from becoming facilitators rather than the other way round.

Despite all this, I think John's points about his PGCE experience are very important. I remember how my wife and I worked all hours during the PGCE to produce immaculate teaching files and accompanying documentation. The 'pass all' mentality only dawned on me when we'd finished it.


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