If I could make one change to education, this would be it. I would base mainstream education on the special school model. I am currently employed in a special school but have experienced mainstream too. I have to hand it to MS teachers, they do a sterling job sometimes in inner city schools, maybe working with behaviour challenged children who simply don’t want to learn. They often face parents who may be less than supportive and they have huge classes. I don’t honestly know how some cope. My mainstream period was definitely not my finest time.
In special, as you know we have classes of 10 or less. This is precisely what I’m advocating for wider education. Classes of 10 would allow for a personalised pathway to be developed for each child in every subject. 10 children would equal 10 objectives for each lesson, 10 lots of assessment and 10 next step planning. With this model the teacher would be able to ascertain that each child has grasped each concept fully before moving them on. I’m not saying that teachers do this intentionally but with large classes there are bound to be some casualties who are moved on before they are ready.
In Maths for example, the teacher introduces a new topic and the top set are swiftly moved on as soon as they are ready. The middle group may have a few extra sessions but some children need intensive support. Smaller classes would allow for this. When I teach Maths to my class I plan individually for P3 up to NC 4 within each lesson. My P3 children may only progress to P4 in their lives but they are entitled to my support to reach that level. I would introduce this to MS for every subject.
This model allows the teacher to spend individual time with each child and ensure they understand completely. The obvious advantage is that the child feels more supported. There is time for each child to learn at their own pace, experience failure from self discovery and grow from individual input from the teacher.
I would also ensure that each class of 10 had a fully qualified HLTA. Qualified support staff are vital to my job. My HLTA is my right hand man and I value her support. A qualified TA would be able to work with the brighter children which leaves the teacher free to teach the struggling ones. Often TAs work with the less able and I believe this is where the specialised knowledge of the teacher is best utilised.
I have absolutely no idea how to finance this revolution in education. That’s not my role. Maybe the lovely Mr Gove could put his mind to finding the funds for smaller classes instead of meddling in educational initiatives about which he has very little knowledge.
This post was written in response to a brand new initiative for #blogsync. Please see http://share.edutronic.net/
Or contact @edutronic_net or @ieshasmall for more info.