After-school learning 'can turn kids around'

13th September 1996 at 01:00
"Learning after school is not more of the same, but a fundamental paradigm shift from teaching to learning. Study support is about learning and how to help kids learn and that's not always what happens in class." So says John MacBeath, director of the Quality in Education Centre at Strathclyde University.

Professor MacBeath, who is conducting a United Kingdom study financed by the Prince's Trust into the benefits of study support, said the concept was like "wildfire" and was spreading to thousands of schools.

Those who took part observed pupils' improved self-esteem, teachers' positive views, and spin-offs for the overall ethos and culture. "Schools have seen evidence of kids being turned around by the experience," he said.

The latest developments were a series of summer schools in which pupils going into S4 give up a week of their holidays to concentrate on study skills. Professor MacBeath said: "The biggest indication of success is that the kids want to come back the following week. They are desperate to get out of school and desperate to get back."

He commented: "It's learner-centred, more informal and relaxed and allows kids to pursue their own interests. The test is to carry the interest into the mainstream. If it does not pay off over the year, it's not much cop."

The Jordanhill research will chart pupils' progress after being involved in study support in a bid to provide hard evidence of the educational benefits.

Meanwhile, Pounds 300,000 of lottery money is being channelled into innovative study support programmes in Scotland. Professor MacBeath said schools would be encouraged to start schemes which went beyond homework classes and promoted independent learners out of school.

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