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Half of teachers find it hard to talk to classes

Half of teachers and three-quarters of support staff say they lack confidence in their classroom communication skills.

The findings, from a government-funded survey in Leicester, the ESCalate student feedback project, will be be presented next week at Bera.

Dr Rosemary Sage, a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester's school of education, said the findings, based on research in the city's schools, highlight "a glaring black hole in teaching skills".

Dr Sage has now devised a course to help teach teachers to communicate competently. She said: "What we found shows that many teachers are uncomfortable with their ability to verbally communicate with pupils, and particularly do not like interactive learning, where they have to work with others.

She said modern children were a challenge to communicate with. "Today's world for children is a visual one. They are not used to being talked at.

Today's teachers are not taught the verbal skills of communication. We need to focus more on the 'how' of learning, rather than the 'what'."

Dr Sage, who is also the assistant director of the Centre for Innovation for Raising Educational Standards, said: "The ability of pupils to think, learn, express themselves and problem-solve is utterly dependent on the skills that teachers have in speaking to them.

"It is imperative that teachers learn how to interact with students, rather than just transmit facts."

One teacher helped by Dr Sage said: "I allowed the pupil to talk for 75 per cent of the time, instead of my talk dominating. This was a turning point for the boy. His whole attitude changed once he recognised I valued his contributions."

MORE reports from the conference in next week's tes

ESCalate student feedback project

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