University making a difference to Caribbean education
Release Date 13 July 2011
Teachers from the West Indies have been visiting the University of Reading in a scheme designed to improve the standard of maths and science teaching back in the Caribbean.
Seven headteachers and nine teachers of maths and science from the West Indies took part in the second year of the ‘Creating Champions' programme.
Jamaican children continue to perform poorly in mathematics and science. This charitable project enables skilled Caribbean teachers to become ‘Champion Teachers' in those subjects, by learning from best practice in the UK and developing new and enhanced teaching methods.
The group spent valuable time with the University's renowned Institute of Education (IoE) training, learning and reflecting on various advanced teaching methods and practices in teaching and leadership skills.
They also visited local schools including Waingels College and George Palmer Primary School. Reading has the largest Bajan population outside of Barbados so fostering links is another key aim of the programme.
Colleagues from local schools and the Berkshire Local Authorities also worked closely with the ‘Champions', sharing expertise and best practice and mentoring them throughout the project. Annette Glatter of the Forest School showed the mathematicians some examples of games which can be used in the classroom to introduce, reinforce and extend concepts.
Miriam Clayton-Johnson, one of the participants from Jamaica said: "Our stay was rewarding academically, professionally and socially. The social and academic links that have been formed are invaluable. We should make every effort to keep these links in an effort to sustain the "community of learners" that we developed. Please extend my appreciation to all persons on your team. As a 'champion' I will now share with colleagues that which I have learned from the programme."
The headteachers were on a special ‘leadership and management' pathway of the Champions programme which would help to take the lead in improving the quality of education back in Jamaica. This was sponsored by Jamaican National Building Society's ‘Mutual Building Societies Foundation (MBSF) Centres of Excellence' programme.
As a result of the programme the University is also now involved in a number of other development and research activities. Deb Heighes, the IoE's lead lecturer in science has just returned from Jamaica after presenting a paper written in collaboration with the University of West Indies.
She said: "My recent visit to Jamaica was very successful. The Champion teachers are clearly having an impact and awareness of the programme is growing."
The University of Reading is currently undertaking a major refurbishment of its London Road campus, the original home of the University in the heart of Reading.
The £30 million investment in the University's academic infrastructure will create a new London Road home for the University's Institute of Education, which trains nearly 1,000 teachers every year. The Institute will move to London Road in Winter 2011/2012.
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The University of Reading's Institute of Education is a major provider of teachers nationally and regionally, offering PGCE Secondary and Primary, BA (Ed) and the Graduate Teacher Programmes (GTP). The secondary programme and the primary programme have both received the top Ofsted grades in 2006/7 and the Institute is now a category 'A' provider for all our courses. The employment rates of its graduates are the highest in the University and the best in the country of any initial teacher training provider.