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Outcomes of Phase 1

An interim report, Teaching and Learning in Primary Schools in Antigua and Barbuda: A Collaborative Intervention Research Project (CCE: Cambridge, 2011) reviewed the ongoing research evidence emerging from Phase 1 of the project.


Research findings:

  • Shared Reading / Shared Learning: interviews with both pupils and teachers showed that the shared reading scheme was successful in its aim of generating greater enthusiasm for reading, and that in some instances it led to improvements in children’s reading. Where positive impacts were greatest, the Principal had taken a high-profile role in supporting the teachers, shared reading was timetabled to take place regularly in class time, teachers exercised sensitivity in establishing pairings of children of similar personalities and abilities and explained carefully the ethos and purpose of the scheme to pupils, and pupils were given ideas and strategies to employ while helping their partners. Unlike in previous studies, the sex of the pupils in the pairs did not seem important in the Antiguan context, with mixed sex pairs working as well as single-sex ones.

  • Interactive Pedagogies in Classrooms: Principals selected a number of ‘best practice’ teachers in their own school who were willing to be observed on a regular basis, to enable the essence of good pedagogic practice around interactive teaching to be recognised, to help teachers recognise the strengths of their own practice, and to contribute to the creation of strong self-esteem amongst this cadre of teachers. Exemplars of effective pedagogies have been developed, drawing upon the experiences of teachers and principals working to develop quality learning experiences for children in schools where resources and technology were not always plentiful and assured. Findings to date show an impact at the classroom level, on ways in which teachers (and school principals) are beginning to reflect more on their teaching styles and methods, and on the ways in which pupils think about their own learning.

  • Listening to Children's Voices: the third strand of the research involved developing situations and opportunities whereby teachers could listen to the voices of children about their own schooling and learning, and identifying through them the factors which (de)motivate, (dis)engage and challenge them as learners. The children offered lucid insights on how their own learning might improve or be improved, and it was clear that they were able and willing to take considerable responsibility for their own learning. None of the students mentioned the gender of the teacher as an important characteristic, but it was teachers’ competence, their ability to teach and maintain an ordered classroom environment for learning, and their willingness to listen to students, which were the crucial factors in making a good teacher. Equally, the children had a clear view of how teachers and principals might improve the quality of the education offered by the school.

  • Developing Communities of Practice amongst teachers: in some schools, mentoring programme and staff development workshops have begun to develop, with evidence of group support and reciprocal working. This aspect of the project is still in its infancy, however, and there are issues of trust and confidence, hierarchy and purpose still to work through. But there is developing a commitment and a desire to ensure that teachers have the opportunity into the future to engage in frequent, continuous and increasingly constructive talk about teaching and learning practices in a supportive and non-judgemental context. Where these initiatives are being developed most actively, there is an emerging commitment to place emphasis on mutuality of support and identifying good practice, rather than on a judgemental approach; to engage Principals in a proactive and positive dialogue about effective leadership of learning; to articulate a clear vision of school to all teachers and parents / carers.