As the parent of two children who were both told by teachers to ‘help the less able members of the class’ instead of shooting their hands up when they knew the answers, I am looking forward to watching a two-part BBC documentary that addresses that exact issue. In it, Professor Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of London University’s Institute of Education, installs a new system in a secondary school classroom, where all of the children need to write the answer to a question on a small, white board and hold it up simultaneously or give the teacher the thumbs up or down sign in answer to a yes or no question.
The idea behind the experiment is to encourage the quieter children to engage more with the classroom activity whilst the confident ones still continue to learn. Another part of the experiment was to introduce PE at the start of everyday to “get the blood flowing and increase concentration”.
I’m encouraged to see innovation in teaching methods in the classroom, as for a number of reasons, schools are still failing many children and young people. Recent figures from Department of Education, showed that progress across the curriculum has stalled, with approximately one in five children being unable to write properly at the age of seven. Some children never catch up with their peers in terms of basic skills and this skills or competancy gap shows itself most starkly in the secondary phase of education.
Watch out for ‘The Classroom Experiment’ a two-part documentary to be shown on BBC2 next month.