Initial Report – LEA co-ordinated Study Visit
Local Education Authority : Full Name of LEA visit leader : E-mail address : Reference and Title of Visit : (e.g. ‘SV001 : Teaching & Learning Strategies’) Provider : Country / Region visited : Types of schools visited : Wiltshire LEA County Hall, Trowbridge, BA14 8JB Mrs Karin Campagna firstname.lastname@example.org SV2118: Gifted Education British Council Singapore Primary (x3) and Secondary (x2), prestigious schools that host the Gifted Education Programme. 10-16 years English To observe/work alongside teachers in Singapore schools that demonstrate best practice in the educational provision for most able students.
Age of students observed : Language/s used: Key Educational Purpose of the Visit:
Introduction Intended aims of the visit: (all pertaining to Gifted and Talented Student Provision) To extend the group’s knowledge, raise further awareness, show the possibilities of an enrichment programme and challenge individual perceptions of educational provision for most able students in order to inform, develop and enhance current good practice within Wiltshire’s schools Expected outcomes of the visit: In addition to achieving the aims set out above each member of the team will identify up to 4 areas of focus:1) a preferred area which he/she can use to develop/enhance their own UK classroom practice 2) a second area which he/she will take back as a focus for the school as a whole to develop 3) a third area to be agreed with the team leader who will support him/her in order to facilitate it within the collaborative geographical Cluster of schools (to which the school belongs) 4) any other focus that through discussion is agreed by the whole team as an area they would wish to pursue collaboratively as a group
How were these to be identified and recorded: Team members kept their own day-to-day record of observations and responses. Whole team meetings were held each day of the visit, observations and ideas exchanged and reflected upon. The team leader requested team members to begin to identify areas of focus from the start of the school visits (day 3), so that at the end of the first week each member had decided on the personal area of focus and was thinking about their school focus. The team leader met with each individual team member at the weekend (midway through the visit) to agree the focus, raise questions to ensure that thoughts/observations were clear and pertinent, and to discuss possible ways of implementation on return to the UK. Once home each team member emailed the team leader with confirmation of his/her intended areas of focus. On return to the UK the team leader wrote to each Head Teacher (or Chair of Governors) to thank him/her for releasing the teacher as a team member for the study visit and to acknowledge the level of professional commitment and enthusiasm that each teacher gave to the experience. Also to remind the Head Teacher that each teacher should be afforded the opportunity to feedback to staff/senior management. The team leader has agreed to support this feedback if required. The team leader is to arrange a ½ day visit to each teacher/school before July to follow initial developments and ensure that team members have been provided with the time/vehicle to feedback to their school’s staff. Team members can contact the team leader by email with questions/issues raised as a result of the study visit or for further support. Team members have requested that email contact be maintained over the next year (at least) to track developments (and further visits made by the team leader where possible).
Report of the experience The whole team is unanimous in its opinion that the entire visit was an outstanding success. It was an exciting, stimulating and challenging experience. Within the issue of Gifted and Talented pupil provision it extended our knowledge, raised awareness, showed us the possibilities/potential of an extensive, well researched and established enrichment programme and most definitely challenged individual perceptions of educational provision for most able students. In particular the commitment to enrichment as opposed to acceleration for children on the GEP (Gifted Education Programme) was uplifting, reassuring and inspiring. Methods used to teach GEP students were familiar but consistently high yet realistic expectations were always in evidence – teacher/student, student/teacher, student/student. GEP students enter the programme at the age of ten or twelve and are mentored continuously once part of the programme (maximum of 6 years). There is a built-in expectation that they will be supportive of each other and this leads to a sense of valued team membership. IP (Innovation Programme) and IRS (Individualised Research Study) are initiatives that could be developed in UK classrooms/schools. An acknowledged outcome of the GEP is that children develop as excellent lateral thinks, with highly developed co-operative skills and an instinctive team-player attitude to problem solving. Teachers are highly respected, (respect is mutual amongst the generations and also amongst the Singapore people as a whole). Every citizen is valued for the part they play and for whatever they are able to contribute. Discipline was not an issue in the schools visited. Teachers are impressively reflective, provided with up to 100 hours of training per year and expected to develop professionally through the support of the Teachers’ Network (colleagues) and continued ‘professional sharing’, there is no adviser level in the Singapore
Education system. They are consulted and co-write the GEP curriculum which is evaluated and modified year on year as required. Teachers have only two-thirds of a main stream teacher’s workload (mainstream teachers both Primary and Secondary have approx. 40% non-contact time), each teacher is provided with a work station + computer in their staff rooms. Students were free to enter staff rooms at any time. Staff move between lessons not students, with obvious exceptions eg. PE, Art, IT. The study visit also confirmed to us that in the UK with our focus on differentiation we are skilled practitioners - as committed, innovative professionals we differentiate up to five levels in order to meet the needs of the mix abilities within many of our classes. However, it also made some of us realise that our expectations of our pupils were not necessarily as high, realistic and negotiated as they could/should be.
Evaluation: Summary of the key educational outcomes. These outcomes were compiled by the team leader – each member of the team completed his/her own report. The team repeatedly offered these four areas: provision for the most able needs to be firmly based on enrichment rather than acceleration teachers need to have the confidence to develop syllabuses expanded in breadth and depth to facilitate discovery-based individual, independent learning teachers need to ensure that their questioning of pupils is focussed on open questions that provide challenges and opportunities for investigation in order that pupils develop as independent, creative thinkers most able pupils need to be provided with frequent opportunities to work together and mentoring systems should be developed to support the emotional literacy of these pupils
How can the findings be applied to the UK context? It is intended that the findings will be applied through the following strategies: raise awareness/support colleagues in order to address the needs of the most able endeavour to ensure that G&T pupil provision is in the School Development Plan – with a co-ordinator/named person, policy, planned direction (+ funding) use teachers’ strengths to develop an enrichment based in-house programme that will compliment existing extra curricular activities develop collaborative projects between Cluster schools, particularly Key Stage 2/3 raise expectations of most able pupils, through clear, realistic and supportive structures explore the possibilities of developing a mentoring scheme within each school develop an atmosphere of celebrating success for all – encourage a more positive attitude, ‘its more than okay to be a high achiever’
How will you apply them to your work? Each team member listed their own priorities from which the following have been selected: through the use of open questions develop a much more discovery based (less prescriptive) approach to learning for the most able be more effective with use of time explore the possibilities of developing initiatives such as IP (Innovation Programme) and IRS (Individualised Research Study) within school (to include opportunities for pupil presentations) seek opportunities to bring most able pupils together, within and across schools, for discussion and sharing projects, presentations etc. ensure open dialogue between pupil, parents and teachers support colleagues within school and to explore closer links with colleagues from other schools – use Singapore ‘Professional Sharing’ model
How do you now intend to disseminate the findings of your visit? Before the end of the academic year each participating teacher will have disseminated through a staff meeting or to the senior management team of the school. It is intended that each teacher with the team leader wherever possible, will disseminate to the Cluster of schools to which his/her school belongs. Presentation/feedback to the LEA Curriculum Advisory team is planned for early September. The team has agreed for the team leader to co-ordinate articles (all team members to contribute) for the LEA Journal of Education as well as national publications. A summary of the experience and planned developments will be offered for the LEA website. The team leader is willing to make a presentation to the British Council/DfES and will endeavour to initiate a LEA or regional conference.
Proposals for future developments and continuing links? Each team member intends to maintain links with his/her Singapore colleague/s through email and in some cases video conferencing Some team members intend to explore the possibilities of embarking on the Montage Project (www.montageplus.co.uk) UK team intends to maintain email contact with each other – long term UK team leader intends to continue to visit team members to support and track developments We intend to explore possibilities of shared project work between Wiltshire schools as well as Wiltshire/Singapore schools We intend to continue the exchange of information and the professional development of the team through continued contact with each other and our Singapore colleagues A follow-up visit to Singapore in a few months time would allow the team to provide first hand feedback of the developments initiated by the Singapore 2002 experience as well as track new initiatives within the Singapore GEP
General advice for other visitors to the country/region: Go to have a great time – educationally, culturally and socially - work hard and play hard and you won’t go wrong! We found Singapore and its people to be very up-beat and that suited us – most of us would go again, in fact actively seek the opportunity! Everyone (from key people at the MoE and the British Council, to principals, teachers and students) was extremely approachable, accommodating and flexible. We were never refused a request. The whole experience though entitled a ‘study visit’ was seen as a professional sharing through which everyone involved would benefit. It was most positive, stimulating and challenging. The MoE, its branches, principals and teachers were well informed and keen to provide us with as much information as possible. The meetings at the MoE on the first day proved informative and stimulating. Impressively when requests were made by the team leader later in the first week for follow-up meetings to clarify information, time was found and meetings held. The Presentation and Professional Sharing with Singapore teachers at the beginning of the second week took sometime to clarify and plan, but it was a rewarding exchange for all who participated. Some cultural information was provided before the visit, some on arrival (we probably had all of the guide books published in the UK between us) but much was gained by asking our co-teachers who were most generous with their time and knowledge. We had many exciting, enjoyable and rich experiences in our free time – usually as a whole group. The climate was hot and humid when we visited but we all adjusted very quickly and came to enjoy the 24 hour warmth, it took some re-adjusting on return to the UK! Air conditioning helped greatly, some of us slept better than others but energy levels remained high throughout. The food alongside the culture was an exciting and enriching experience (apart from one rogue prawn) everyone was fit and healthy for the entire trip. We ate local food at every opportunity (Chinese, Indian and Malay) seeking advice and recommendations from our coteachers. We didn’t have a single disappointing meal. The hotel was excellent, facilities superb, and staff friendly, efficient and helpful. Transport (buses, MRT-underground, taxis) was easy, convenient, reliable and inexpensive.
Finally everyone on the Wiltshire TIPD team would like to thank everyone in the British Council, (UK and Singapore), and all our colleagues in Singapore for making the TIPD study visit one of the most memorable (professionally and socially) experiences that we have ever had. In addition to new friendships, its everlasting impact will be to ensure that we maintain our professional reflection - of ourselves, our practice and our schools – we appreciate all the opportunities afforded to us and happily we’ll never be the same as we were before Singapore!