Pupil power is all the rage

17th March 2006 at 00:00
Ceredigion wins award for involving pupils in their learning, reports Felicity Waters

A revolution is taking place in the relationship between teachers and pupils in Mid Wales and is being hailed as a model of good practice.

Teachers today are "prompters of learning", with pupils encouraged to play an equal role in the classroom.

Ceredigion local education authority prides itself on encouraging pupils to learn about learning, and believes this is the key to good results. They are encouraged to gain a better understanding of what they are learning and how they are doing it.

The ethos is now ingrained in the curriculum of the county's 83 schools, and the results are speaking for themselves, according to Catherine Woodward, senior adviser at the LEA.

"We have programmes that help children reflect upon their own thinking and improve their skills as learners. This means voicing an opinion and listening to others," she said.

The strategy, which derives from research at King's College and London University's Institute of Education, as well as Queen's university in Belfast, earned Ceredigion the only highly commended award in the education category at the recent Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA)'s excellence awards, which recognise good practice among councils.

Ceredigion sees its role as equipping children with the skills to work, take part in democracy and contribute to their communities. Schools work closely with the LEA, and each other, to make sure that pupils feel they are a part of the process.

Barry Rees, assistant head at Ysgol Penweddig in Aberystwyth, said:

"Success is now more of a partnership between teachers and pupils, and there is more interaction and engagement in the classroom. When children enjoy and feel part of the process, a lot more learning goes on."

Carmarthenshire council was commended at the WLGA awards ceremony in Cardiff Bay for showing leadership by promoting good-quality school meals.

Healthy, nutritionally planned menus using fresh, locally-sourced food are now in place across the county's 135 schools.

A pilot has also started in four of the county's 14 secondary schools, with children enjoying traditional dinners.

Another winner in the education category was Conwy council, which was praised for its support of parents with difficult children.

The group sessions, called "Now I know why tigers eat their young", were commended for offering advice and practical support to parents of children who were unruly, aggressive or badly behaved at home and in school.

"It can be lonely dealing with difficult teenagers, and parents benefit from talking to each other and learning new ways of dealing with bad behaviour," said Sue Maskell, head of children and families services.

"We use cognitive behaviour techniques and encourage parents to reflect on their own experiences. Anything that improves a child's stability at home is going to improve their potential at school."

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