Pick Your Teacher: Democratic Schooling in the UK

The London Nautical School, “a modern, non-selective inner London state school for boys”, is transforming education with students choosing their curriculum and teachers, as reported on Aljazeera. The programme is led by New Zealander Chris Waugh, head of the English department.

“At the start of the year, teachers pitch their courses to the students, who are given the power to choose what courses they want to study. This forces staff, students and parents to work closely together to evolve the content of the courses on offer. And it has created radically different courses, which are highly engaging and are placing students at the centre of the learning experience,” according to the article.

“We had to prove ourselves before we would be taken seriously, and I do think that if you’re going to create change in the way that we have, in a system like this, you have to have the courage to be willing to fail or to be seen to fail by others,” said Waugh.

The Kiwi adds:

“”When I first came to the UK, one thing that did strike me was the amount to which the system for education focuses on exam outcomes. There is a lot of punishment associated with doing badly in exams, it seems. It’s often led to really conservative approaches in the classrooms and schools … I think there is much more that we should be doing in classrooms than simply getting ready for exams.”

“We are the only school that I know of that chooses its own English teacher. I think in a way it matures you … and it makes your self-esteem go up,” said one of the students.

The approach was first tested in the English department of the school, “but has proven so successful that it’s being rolled out to other departments and is currently in different states of implementation in subjects across the school.”

“This has not been easy. Within a state school institution, people dislike change … and, within the school, I have had to battle with people in order to get them to agree for us to go ahead with these programmes and processes … Giving students and parents the choice is terrifying for a lot of people in education,” said Waugh.

“We had to prove ourselves before we would be taken seriously, and I do think that if you’re going to create change in the way that we have, in a system like this, you have to have the courage to be willing to fail, or to be seen to fail by others.”

To read more and to watch a short film which follows some of the teachers putting together their syllabus for the year please click here.

Article Source: Aljazeera, January 9, 2017

Image Source: Supplied


Tags: Aljazeera  Chris Waugh  London Nautical School