A little bit of TLC goes a long way in schools
Four out of five teachers who took part in an evaluation of the Teacher Learning Communities programme, based on the sharing of formative assessment strategies, believe it has improved their classroom practice.
An evaluation report of the TLC programme by the Tapestry Partnership found that at the end of its third phase, 81 per cent of practitioners believed their teaching had benefited as a result of new learning about AfL (Assessment for Learning).
An even higher proportion of respondents to the evaluation - 91 per cent - said they were fully convinced of the value of formative assessment. Only 64 per cent were fully convinced that TLCs could make "a major contribution to raising achievement", while 60 per cent said they could see an impact on pupil learning in their class as a result of participating in the programme.
The programme, delivered by Tapestry in partnership with Professor Dylan Wiliam of the Institute of Education, University of London, has now reached more than 12,000 practitioners across 25 education authorities in Scotland.
TLCs have also received a strong endorsement from Graham Donaldson, author of Teaching Scotland's Future, who urged universities to incorporate the programme into their master's programmes.
Professor Donaldson told TESS he hoped the National Partnership Group on Teacher Education would back such a move. He added that the Tapestry model of TLCs also met one of the main themes of his report - "the need to relate continuing professional development much more directly to local collegiate working while at the same time providing an external stimulus to guard against local groups becoming too insular in their thinking".
"What was impressive was the evident enthusiasm of the staff involved for this kind of working. The evaluation evidence is very positive (much better than is often the case for CPD events) and my discussions with tutors and local authority staff confirmed high support for the approach," said Professor Donaldson.
Future plans by Tapestry include the launch of whole-school TLCs which include community learning and development and music instructors.
TEACHER LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Teacher learner communities, created by Professor Dylan Wiliam, consist of eight to 10 classroom teachers in the same school who have committed themselves to embedding formative assessment techniques in their teaching.
At regular meetings, they report on their own progress; describe how other TLC members are doing; offer suggestions for improvement; and outline what further technique or step they will take before the next meeting.
In 2008, the Tapestry Partnership set up the first phase of a two-year course consisting of a masterclass with Professor Wiliam for TLC leaders, support sessions with Tapestry tutors, plus materials and ongoing liaison.