More investment in skills training

23rd December 2005 at 00:00
As a critical skills practitioner and trainer, I was interested to read your report about the research carried out at the Smithycroft Learning Community in Glasgow by Professor Eric Wilkinson of Glasgow University.

("Jury still out on critical skills", December 2).

It is not surprising that the evidence provided only tentative conclusions and judged that it had yet to have a "significant impact," since the field of research was extremely narrow and focused only on two classes and three challenges.

The Critical Skills Programme is not a "quick fix". Its strength lies in the fact that it builds, over a period of time, a learning community of individuals who are able to work in collaboration to complete tasks that increase in complexity and are interlinked.

The Critical Skills Programme had a "significant impact" on my classroom methodology, and the changes that I saw in the behaviour, motivation and engagement of pupils confirmed what I had learnt during training.

I would therefore agree with the research finding that "CSP was found to have the potential to engage younger learners in new learning challenges to a greater extent than more traditional methods". This also applies to secondary pupils, but challenges have to be carefully crafted to engage pupils. This can only be achieved when staff are fully trained and are able to work collaboratively to write challenges.

Undoubtedly, staff training and whole school implementation are the key factors. We have to invest in high quality training to get major advances across the age ranges.

Allison Hillis Inchgower Grove Rhu Helensburgh

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