When Miss is just eleven years old

15th July 2005 at 01:00
One of the best ways to learn is to teach someone else, one Yorkshire primary believes. Helen Ward reports

Holmfirth school prides itself on putting its children at the heart of everything it does - and that includes teaching.

Some of the oldest pupils at the primary school in West Yorkshire have honed their maths skills on interactive whiteboards and are using them to coach children in Year 4.

The children now regularly give their young schoolmates 10-minute warm-up sessions in the subject before the Year 4 teacher takes over.

"One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else," said teacher Dughall McCormick. "We think children pay a lot more attention if children are presenting to them or standing in front of them.

"If Year 4 is about to be doing fractions, one of my pupils goes down the corridor to do a five or 10-minute starter session. A teacher is there, but if anything the pupils behave better when you put a child in front of the class rather than an adult. They sit up and listen."

Mr McCormick said the scheme helped his pupils to revise maths and practise ICT skills.

Abigail Preston, nine, said she enjoyed being taught by older children.

"They are better than a teacher," she said. "Because sometimes a teacher will use hard words. The children taught us using words we know. It's nice that they came into our class because it helps them as well."

Last week, four Holmfirth pupils gave a presentation on how they use the interactive whiteboard to teach maths at a conference for 40 teachers held in Royds Hall high school, Huddersfield.

"At the conference the teachers all behaved like children, putting their hands up," said nine-year-old Lucy Hirst. "I would like to be a teacher. I enjoy it."

It is not the first time pupils at Holmfirth have been part of in-service training offered to other schools. They have shown Kirklees teachers how pupils can mediate between other pupils, as part of a befriending and counselling service, and helped demonstrate exercises in a motor skills programme for children with dyspraxia.

* helen.ward@tes.co.uk

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