On-site study a big boost

20th February 2004 at 00:00
Teaching assistants and support staff have helped bring about a transformation at Kemnal technology college in Sidcup, Kent.

The boys' school has been praised by David Miliband, the school standards minister, for the way it has "pioneered workforce reform".

Teaching assistants are often used to mark pupils' work, as well as to hand out pens and give students individual support during lessons.

One teacher at the school even takes some Year 11 classes of up to 75 students with help from five assistants - an approach which has not yet attracted any complaints from parents or pupils.

Since last year no subject teachers at the school have been asked to cover for absences. Instead, the job is done by five cover assistants.

Similarly, staff have been released from playground duties since the school employed a team of lunchtime supervisors.

Headteacher John Atkins believes the changes in workforce are part of the reason why the school has seen remarkable improvements in its GCSE results.

This view is shared by Mr Miliband, who says the school demonstrates the kinds of "personalised learning" and its benefits which he would like others to imitate.

"I saw teachers and support staff working together in teams to meet the needs of pupils. They were sharing lesson plans and assessment data to boost the quality of teaching and learning," Mr Miliband said.

"The key to unlock change has been workforce reform. Across the year teachers focus on adding the greatest value to pupil progress - by focusing on teaching."

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