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Stop training teachers before school leadership has been trained

Stop training teachers before school leadership has been trained

Stop training teachers before school leadership has been trained 1280 574 The Billion Child Foundation

Training teachers before school leadership teams of underperforming schools have been trained is often a waste of money.

We have all seen the statistics published by highly regarded organisations such as the World Bank showing that three quarters of students in grade three in some countries cannot read a simple sentence or subtract 17 from 47. So something is very, very wrong.

The question that must be answered is why tens of millions of schools in developing countries stubbornly resist all efforts to improve teaching and learning outcomes.

While empowering thousands of under-performing schools to become centres of excellence, we at BCF have discovered that many teachers know how to prepare lessons effectively and how to deliver lessons with passion. But they don’t do so!

We have observed countless government schools where two classes are combined so that one of the teachers can take a second job, where teachers don’t prepare lessons effectively if at all, where the curriculum is seldom completed and where teachers boost marks to look good and, perhaps worst of all, they have no shame when their entire class fails when they undertake external tests.

In these circumstances there is no point in training teachers of underperforming schools. The first priority must be to train school leaders to provide the pride and discipline and win the commitment of teachers in each school to provide a high quality culture of effective teaching and effective learning.

At thousands of schools where BCF has trained school leadership teams, examination results have demonstrated an immediate improvement in the commitment of teachers, students and in the involvement of parents and the community.

In 2010, Fezile Dabi education district in South Africa was a poor performer with only 45% of students at underperforming schools gaining a basic matriculation pass. Few students gained a university entrance pass. In 2011 BCF trained the school leadership teams in this District and at the end of the academic year 71% of students gained a basic matriculation pass. By 2016 over 93% of the students gained a basic matriculation. More incredibly in that year 77% of students gained a university or technical university entrance pass. Definite proof of a highly significant increase in teaching and learning effectivity.

Trained school leadership in the District set high standards and worked hard to develop the pride and commitment of teachers, students, parents and the communities around each school.

When teachers feel they are part of an organisation where their success is appreciated by its leadership, where they are measured on the preparation of lessons and in class performance, and where they regularly celebrate small wins, they become engaged. When this motivational environment has been embedded at each school many teachers request training to upgrade their knowledge and skills. When they return from training they are required to share their new knowledge and teaching techniques with their colleagues. The impact of their role in teaching their peers has a double benefit. Firstly they are usually keen to implement what they have learned in their classroom as a model for their peers, and secondly they upgrade the knowledge and skills of their entire department.

My appeal to funders whose goal is to radically improve educational outcomes is to prioritise school leadership training so that when they later invest in teacher training, the teachers return to a school keen to implement their new knowledge and skills and to share these with their peers and thereby transform educational outcomes.

Here is the silver bullet

By the end of 2023 BCF will have potentially enabled 3.2 million children to attend schools where their leadership teams have been trained to operate their schools as centres of excellence.

The Billion Child Foundation is, to the best of our knowledge, the only organisation in the world with proven scalable cost-effective programmes to transform every school in every country.

In South Africa, at previously underperforming schools trained by BCF, over 86% of students now gain a matriculation pass every year and 71% gain a university or technical university admission matriculation pass!

At rural primary schools in the semi-desert close to the Botswana border, the percentage of students passing English in Grade/Year 7 soared from 57% in 2014 to 86% in 2017 after school leadership teams attended the BCF International Schools Centre of Excellence Programme in 2015.

The percentage of students passing Maths marks increased from 27% to 55%.

No specific training of maths or English teachers was conducted between 2014 and 2017 again confirming the need to train school management teams before training teachers.

The Lesotho Ministry of Education and Training reported to UNICEF which funded the training that, after training,  the pass rate at under-performing schools increased by 61% compared to the control group of 20 schools.

Transforming schools so no child is left behind

BCF seeks partnerships with major local and international corporate donors whose goals are to improve educational outcomes especially in developing countries. Please contact our founder and CEO Alan Whitaker alan@billionchild.org

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