THERE has been a case of role reversal at a primary school in Cosham where seven teachers have gone back to school.
The team from Portsdown Primary – including head Irene Baldry and deputy head Daphne Wright – are going beyond the call of duty as they juggle their jobs with 10,000-word dissertations and copious amounts of postgraduate research.
Each teacher has focused on a different area of education for the three-year MA at the University of Chichester – and their research is going straight back into the classroom with excellent results.
Mrs Baldry and Mrs Wright, who are taking a close look at literacy, helped devise a system for improving reading.
The so-called ‘reading pledge’, which ensures children read at home and in school on a daily basis, has already seen the reading age of every single pupil improve – and some by two years in just 10 weeks.
Mrs Wright said: ‘The pledge has been a fantastic success. But the next challenge is making sure we are also giving the children a love of reading.’
A major area for investigation is the dip in standards when children move from key stage one (five to seven years) and key stage two (eight to 11 years) – which is a problem facing schools across the city.
Through their research, the teachers discovered every year a child moves from a specific classroom environment with set teachers is a major cause of anxiety which affects their performance.
To remedy this, year groups have been mixed up according to ability and youngsters now take part in weekly extra-curricular workshops to familiarise them with different classrooms and settings.
Meanwhile Jane Bush, an advanced skills teacher, tasked herself with solving the problem of boys outperforming girls in maths by the time they leave school.
She said: ‘I noticed the boys were willing to take risks – unlike the girls they didn’t worry about a right or a wrong answer.
‘There were self-esteem and confidence issues so I decided to experiment.’
And the experiment is so far paying off.
Mrs Bush doesn’t ‘ability set’, she ‘confidence sets’ which means children with similar confidence levels are seated around the same table.
Mistakes are not marked incorrect so as not to demoralise pupils – instead they are left for the child to go back and find the solution.
She said: ‘Teaching is a reflective process, but with the MA and research you do it in a lot more depth.
‘It’s great that we have the time to pursue data and results.’
Mrs Baldry said: ‘I am so proud of all the staff for being prepared to go the extra mile – what we are doing at this school is unique.
‘It has inspired a cultural change where our staff are working in a genuinely intellectual effort to raise standards across the school.’