They say imitation is the best form of learning

28th March 2008 at 00:00
A teaching programme adapted from a school in the Basque country in northern Spain has helped St Timothy's Primary in Glasgow's east end win accolades from HMIE.

The school, based in Carntyne and feeding into St Andrew's Secondary (which last year received another excellent HMIE report), this week received the best gradings of a Glasgow primary - six excellent ratings, eight "very goods" and only accommodation and facilities described as "weak".

Headteacher Laura McLean, whose "leadership for learning" was praised by the inspectors, attributed the fact that P1-3 pupils were exceeding national levels in maths to the decision to adapt the Amara Berri methodology St Timothy's teachers had seen in practice at one of its international partner schools through the Comenius programme.

The methodology is based on a belief that through play, children imitate the adult world and, as a result of this imitation, they learn.

The contextualised, active learning approach was paying significant dividends, Mrs McLean said. Recently, the school had invited a team of independent psychologists to evaluate its P3 pupils' attainment (the class which has followed the Basque programme since P1). They found the pupils to be 17 months ahead of their expected level in maths and logical reasoning.

Lesley-Anne Dick, the principal teacher who has led the development, said the programme was teaching pupils to be active and independent in their learning.

One of the fundamental principles of the approach was that teachers should do nothing for the children that they could not do themselves - thus increasing their independence. Pupils learned through imitating the real world - for instance, in early primary, children worked in a "shop" and learned how to stock-take or write out shopping lists.

The HMIE report said: "Outstanding and innovative approaches to learning at P1 to P3 ensured all pupils were consistently and actively involved in a wide range of challenging learning activities."

- Meanwhile, an Inverclyde school has received the best HMIE report of any non-denominational secondary. Greenock Academy has been given four "excellent" and 12 "very good" ratings. Inspectors gave particular praise to the leadership of Moira McColl, the headteacher, and the school's personal and social development, climate and relationships, and expectations and promotion of achievement.

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