Education

Empowering teachers brings quality

Cambridge International, part of the University of Cambridge, England is responsible for honing (English) language skills of millions around the world. The body which was operating only as an assessment agency now moves beyond standard-setting and evaluation.

With Cambridge Assessment International Education, it acts as a global educational service provider and works with 10,000 schools in 160 countries around the world. '“This shift began in 2013 when we as an organisation felt that ‘assessment’ had to be linked to ‘curriculum’ and ‘pedagogy’ for setting high standards in education,” informs its Deputy Director (Professional Development), Lee Davis who was in Bengaluru for a conference on education.

Why did Cambridge International feel the need to broaden its vision? “The ambition was to transform quality of teaching globally. When we had already set global assessment criteria, we felt it would be more meaningful to train students according to the set standards from school level,” explains Davis.

The foremost task for Cambridge International five years ago was to survey the current practices in education worldwide and assess how good or bad these practices were in developing students’ learning abilities.

Empowering teachers brings quality

Then it began to ponder over ‘how it could make schools all over the world adapt globally accepted good practices’. But will these good practices cater to children across cultures? Davis clarifies: “They’re not practices that work only in UK or Australia, it’s what works internationally. These are not western but ‘international’ standards applied locally.”

One major impediment that is not allowing students to step beyond a certain level of growth is their training in ‘rote learning’. For addressing this critical issue, he informs: “we have come up with an active learning framework which encourages students not just to memorise, but also to explain, evaluate, self-assess, think about ethical concerns and more. This teaches them the art of learning.”

The professional development courses by Cambridge International are of three types. The first one introduces teachers to the vision and working of Cambridge International.

The second one is subject-specific. The third is a generic course that trains teachers in research, active learning and other tools.

“We believe in theory of change,” says Davis adding, “change occurs when a student moves from point A to B in his/her reading or writing skills and ability of understanding.”

Keeping this in mind, Cambridge International encourages school leaders to conceptualise workshops for teachers at the school level based on what students need to develop. “As these changes take years and can happen best within the school, we have made our system decentralised and contextual. The world of education achieves a significant milestone, if schools start taking responsibility for quality of education,” he believes.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 11:39:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/empowering-teachers-brings-quality/article29618364.ece

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