In 2010 the partnership was awarded a grant of £20,000 a year for 3 years by the British Council to provide CPD for 100 teachers in a very rural part of Malawi. Together with the staff at St. Joseph’s the UoB team plan week long programmes of CPD for 100 teachers in English, Maths, Science and Physical Education.
Many Malawian children are not literate. English is their additional language, Chichewa being their home language. The intention of the project is to create a programme which helps teachers deal with large numbers of pupils (the team have seen classes of well over 200) and yet involve the pupils in active learning with a child centred approach. Teaching And Learning Using Locally Available Resouces (TALULAR) has been central to the planning in all curriculum areas. The CPD emphasises:
- Active Learning
- Children at the centre of learning
- Group work – collaborative and co-operative learning
- Locally available resources
- Teaching and learning strategies
- Collaborative Group work
- Role play Practical activities
- Talking and listening
- Personal expression
- Sharing and exploring own ideas
Over the two years we have focused on story telling and puppetry to develop spoken English, poetry and developing teachers’ skills as writers. How to engage children as readers and develop comprehension skills were also key features. In terms of pedagogic approaches the benefits of collaborative learning, creativity and cooperation were emphasised. The underlying philosophy was one of empowering learners as a means of empowering them as citizens.
The focus of the mathematics sessions has been shape and space (2011) and representations for number concepts including developing understanding of place value and properties of number. The approach included participants engaging in collaborative and cooperative 'people maths' activities to stimulate mental calculation and exploration of number patterns. Talk for learning has been an important feature as well as supporting teachers in provision of practical activities that are suitable for large class groups . Thinking about paired work and group work and how this facilitates talk so that children can learn from one another, as well as the teacher, has been a major focus. Modelling how children themselves can be a resource for representing and exploring number has also been highlighted.
Over the two years the sessions have focused on developing teachers capacity to teach P.E. in an inclusive and engaging way. The teachers have been shown how to modify activities and equipment to ensure high levels of participation in activities that are familiar to them (i.e. Games – mostly football and netball their national sports)
They have also been introduced to new activities that require little or no equipment (or are locally available- TALULAR) (Athletics, gymnastics, orienteering, problem solving, alternating games) The main strategies have been:
- Cooperative learning- learning with, by and for each other.
- Peer teaching- I teach you, you teach me (using learners as teachers)
- Formative assessment and feedback
- Small grouping strategies
- Differentiation strategies.
The science sessions have focused on scientific enquiry, forces, electricity, light and air and water. The approach has emphasised the importance of using effective strategies to identify and explore the children’s own ideas. Direct hands on experiences to explore concepts have been used with consideration for the context and kind of resources available in Malawi. The importance of reflecting on these experiences through talk has been highlighted. Emphasis has also been placed on group work, working collaboratively, peer support and cooperation.
Since their initial training of one year in college and one in school these primary teachers have had little or no additional training. The evaluations indicate that the participants have valued the sessions very highly and a follow on questionnaire revealed that 95% of the participants have changed their practice to a more integrated active approach which has impacted on the active participation, enjoyment and development of pupils.