Trying to make a lasting difference? Shut up and listen!
Elspeth Dugdale | September 1, 2018
One of the challenges within the ServeDirect - WTA partnership is to ensure that we only get involved in work that is useful and necessary to the school’s development. Over the years, we have learnt, (sometimes the hard way!), to first consult Charles and his Senior Management Team and also to listen carefully to their suggestions and opinions.
When last year, there was a ServeDirect team of UK teachers to visit Lukomera, it was essential that the focus and content were relevant and realistic for the WTA teachers. Otherwise the trip is a waste of everyone’s time.
Last year’s teacher training trip was followed up by Paul Ibbott’s visit in February, during which he worked closely with HM Benard and team to make some specific recommendations to help WTA improve academic results and to raise up the overall pass rate. Paul and Benard remain in regular communication via email, and together they are already tracking and assessing students with potential from S2 – two years before their O’ levels – looking ahead to 2020 results.
One area that is also having a positive effect, is that teachers have been regularly meeting with groups of able S4 students. The purpose of this has been to mentor, guide and encourage the students in their work - and the students are certainly responding well.
Another significant step for WTA this August is the S4 Holiday Revision Programme, which for the first time is available for all S4 and S6 students. Many teachers have stayed at school to work through the holidays, the library remains open and experienced examiners have been visiting the school to teach on exam approach and technique. Teachers have also been working on improving lesson content and planning and in setting targets for individual students and subject departments. Not all students were able to attend and some have not yet paid their contribution for the programme, but feedback so far is positive.
In the words of HM Benard: “The holiday programme has been a success, more than we even thought it would be. Teachers have turned up despite the small allowances given to them. Definitely we think serious students are going to benefit. Even external facilitation is ongoing concurrently, alternating with the teachers’ lessons.. Hopefully we shall get the much needed yields.”
Working together to improve academic results and pupil performance overall is certainly a “marathon and not a sprint”, (thank you Ian Williams for that educational-sporting analogy!), but the firm hope and expectation is that it will make a lasting difference.
Postscript: The following TED talk from entrepreneur, speaker and author Ernesto Sirolli sums up the importance of listening to the local community and not assuming. If you are short of time, the first four minutes are particularly compelling…..