It's the teachers, stupid

4th November 2005 at 00:00
It's not rocket science; it is, quite simply, stating the blindingly obvious. What matters most in pupil attainment is the quality of the teaching they receive. It makes no difference how good the resources are or how small the class if the teacher cannot teach. The statistics emerging from American research show just how big a difference an effective teacher can make to a child's attainment compared to an ineffective one.

Dr Terry Dozier, one-time special adviser to the Clinton administration on all teaching matters, has been in Scotland as the guest of the Hunter Foundation and the Scottish Executive explaining why research findings on teacher effectiveness have prompted a shift in policy in the United States in the past decade (page eight).

Her message to CPD co-ordinators and the teacher educators is simple: the best way to develop effective teachers is to improve their professional development and the best way to do that is to provide regular and frequent opportunities for teachers to work collaboratively, to work in teams and for experienced teachers to mentor less experienced colleagues. Again, there should be no surprises there. How many times do classroom teachers say that the best thing about a new initiative or pilot project is the chance to meet colleagues, share best practice and exchange ideas?

Perhaps more significantly is the hint from Ewan Hunter of the increasingly influential Hunter Foundation that chartered teachers and other experienced practitioners should be trained to take on mentoring roles. That may not have been the original vision for the chartered teacher programme, but it seems likely that pressure will grow for the role of these classroom-based "superteachers" to evolve and embrace new duties.

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