By Fraser Bewick
Over 6 years, the British Council has developed a strong partnership with the Suzhou Education Bureau (SEB), a municipal level education bureau with significant influence on education policy and development within the Suzhou City area. As part of this collaboration, the British Council and SEB worked together to explore how a recent UK-led teacher Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programmes on Global Skills (21st Century Skills) has impacted on their teacher participants, and how such delivery and CPD offers might be improved in future.
The insights provided may be of continued interest to policy makers and course designers who wish to develop a more holistic learning approach. This topic area is also particularly relevant given the advent of the new China national English curriculum for Primary and Junior High released in April 2022.
Key areas of focus were to:
- Identify changes in confidence amongst Junior High teachers related to developing their students’ global skills after intensive training.
- Explore and identify how changes to training design and other aspects of CPD may be useful for teachers in enhancing their capacity to promote and develop students’ global skills in the local context.
- The paper was written with the full collaboration and support of the Suzhou Education Bureau with input provided at both the data collection and editing stages.
Key recommendations from the report that can support future delivery in this area include to:
- Focus only on one or two global skills in short training deliveries and address these in detail that supports contextual needs, particularly if these skills are more abstract.
- Ensure real needs are addressed, and avoid focusing heavily on areas where the majority of teachers are already confident or have significant experience.
- Build in remote follow up support for teachers when they return to the classroom. This may include mentoring or planning support for a number of lessons post-training, until they have a better idea of what might be expected or needed; and how to practically integrate global skills support into their normal content. This can be supplemented by ongoing Communities of Practices (CoPs) / Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs), as some teachers have suggested they might like to participate in such events.
- Have practical example sessions led by experts during the 3-day training – It is advisable to avoid pre-practiced demonstrations here, and teachers should be reminded that classes do not always work as planned, especially with new groups, and that learning can come from both success and failure. Seeing the planning process, the rationale for making decisions on global skills integration, and what issues the teacher faces in the classroom are all valuable in helping teachers assimilate or improve these ideas for themselves.
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