Top ten teaching principles for all

21st September 2007 at 01:00
A LEADING RESEARCH programme has published a top 10 list of teaching principles, to be sent to all schools, which emphasises the need to consult pupils and draw on their home experiences.

The Teaching and Learning Research Programme, based at the Institute of Education in London, has designed a poster outlining the principles. It is accompanied by a DVD and explanatory guide. The first three principles examine the purpose of education.

Teachers are reminded that school is about more than covering the curriculum and passing exams. They need to link lessons with events at home and abroad. This provides pupils with skills and strategies to face the world beyond the school gates.

Teachers should explain the processes of learning so that pupils understand what constitutes quality in each subject. The teacher's role is to facilitate understanding, as well as to transmit information.

And they should recognise the importance of pupils' prior experiences, in and out of school.

Mary Wood, the programme's deputy director, said: "Instead of saying, 'Today, we're going to do this', try to find out what children already know about a topic. Otherwise, you risk boring pupils stupid, either because they've covered something before or because it far outreaches what they're able to do."

The next four principles deal with teaching itself. Staff are asked to examine the "scaffolding", or structure, of lessons. They need to encourage independent working while preventing pupils from veering off in misguided directions.

Importantly, assessment should not just determine whether learning has taken place but also advance it. Encouraging pupils to discuss their own learning gives teachers an insight into their capabilities and allows children to feel respected within the school. Leaving space for activities that pupils initiate helps them feel valued.

Teachers should acknowledge that learning is a social activity. The programme's research shows that pupils working effectively in groups also perform better on their own.

Ditch targets, page 32

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