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Keep us awake and on the go

It was supposed to be a meeting of minds and a sharing of forward-thinking teaching practice.

But the school tables were turned after pupils took to the floor and gave amused teachers a lesson on how to stop them nodding off in class this week.

Representatives of the school council from Cyfarthfa high, in Merthyr Tydfil, were unexpected speakers at the annual network get-together of the south Wales branch of educational organisation, Improving the Quality of Education for All.

The pupils launched an attack on dull chalk-and-talk teachers, saying what they really wanted from teachers was a hyperactive personality, fun lessons, and a zero-tolerance approach to troublemakers.

Fourteen-year-old Jack Evans said: "We want to be on the go in class - involved, challenged, and above all having fun. We don't want to be bored, copying out of textbooks and clock-watching."

Through a series of seminars, teaching staff boasted how schemes to raise pupil self-esteem, track performance and use props in the classroom had helped capture the imagination of young learners. But the school-council members had the final word. They came up with a top 10 list of their least-favourite teaching practices, including lacklustre lessons taught without enthusiasm.

They then gave teachers a taste of the lessons they liked most. Introducing a pub-style quiz, they asked them to spot the odd one out in a line-up of sporting stars. Teachers were then asked to fill in a world map by memory.

In all, 13 comprehensive schools stretching across six local education authorities are part of the IQEA network. Each school has set up a group to look at new ways to stimulate young learners.

Opening the day's event, Professor David Egan, educational adviser to education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson, said a revolution was happening in the classroom. He said the teaching profession needed to remain agile, and adapt to the huge changes that would be introduced by the end of the decade.

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