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Champs scheme 'failing'

Good practice scheme has made no discernible impact, say teacher unions

PEDAGOGY CHAMPIONS appointed last year to promote good teaching practice are failing to make an impact, it was claimed this week.

Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounds the future of a vocational skills champion post most recently held by the businessman Peter McGowan.

The government said the expertise of 11 heads and teachers who "oozed inspiration and innovation" would be instrumental in spreading good practice across Wales on their appointment. But the post-election hiatus and an unexpected three education ministers in under six months has not helped their cause.

Phil Dixon, Wales director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the entire pedagogy initiative, launched by the government two years ago, had so far failed to cause any ripples. He is also sceptical about the approach and keen to see a shorter term for teachers to concentrate purely on professional development.

Brian Lightman, head of St Cyres Comprehensive in Penarth, and vice-president of the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru, is also in the dark.

"I know they've appointed pedagogy champions but I don't know what they're doing," he said.

One champion, Vaughan Davies, deputy head of Monmouth Comprehensive, declined to talk about his work when approached, instead suggesting we talk to the Assembly government which claims a major announcement will be made this autumn.

But a government spokesperson said: "We plan to discuss ideas with a wide range of stakeholders about the best ways for us to support teachers in their practice."

Gary Brace, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Wales, said the pedagogy strategy was just one strand of professional development.

"There's also the Assembly-funded programme to improve individual professional practice through scholarships, bursaries and sabbaticals," he said.

Wales-based academic Professor David Reynolds feels a pedagogy strategy shows the Assembly understands that improved teaching is the key to driving up standards. "But there's a serious issue about scaling up how do you take things through the system?" he said. "Also, you never know whether the secret of success is personality or method."

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