A Report On Educational Systems Education Essay

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'These are changing times in educational systems around the world. With the start of the new millennium, many societies are engaging in serious and promising educational reforms' (Hargreaves 2000:1). Contexts of rapid change and uncertainty are drawing, and sometimes forcing, many teachers together to work more collaboratively in order to respond to such change effectively (Hargreaves 1994). At the same time, shrinking public-sector and tightening policy controls, accountability has been pushing teachers to do more work, more compliantly and for limited reward (Hargreaves 2000). Overworked and underpaid teachers have had to master and comply with centrally imposed learning standards, detailed curriculum targets and pervasive testing regimes and they have seen their work and their worth become broken down and categorized into checklists of performance standards or competencies (Hargreaves 2000). The expectations of teachers to get their students to high standards of performance through effective teaching, to ensure that all of them are literate and can and do learn, are escalating (Hargreaves 2000).

Effective teaching and by extension, effective student learning has been the central focus of both historical and the current educational reforms (Ellis. E.S. and Worthington L.A 1994). Effective teaching is defined as being primarily concerned with the process of obtaining some desired student learning outcomes through educational activity (Wise 2000). This view is in agreement with Harris's (1999) who sees effective teaching as being highly dependent upon the nature of the educational outcomes and goals that the teaching is aiming to foster.

Teachers engaged in effective teaching in schools are consistently more successful in keeping students on task, spend a greater amount of time presenting new material, provide more independent practice, demonstrate higher expectations for students, provide more positive reinforcement, experience fewer classroom interruptions and have fewer discipline problems (Teddlie, Kirby and Stringfield 1993; also Teddlie and Stringfield, 1989). Effective teaching consists of a positive personal relationship through which information is transmitted and development of skills facilitated in accordance with a specific curriculum and by means of considered strategies (Harris 1999).


.1.2 Background of the study

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The Seychelles is a multi-racial country with people of different origins and belief; it has Christianity as the dominant religion and creole as the mother tongue. English, French and Creole form the three national languages. It is not only in terms of land area that the Seychelles is considered a "small nation" but in terms of population as well. With an annual growth rate of 1.0 per cent the Seychelles' entire population of 80,410 in accordance with the latest census, is concentrated on the main island and distributed as follows: Mahe, the largest, has 88 per cent of the total population, of which 40 per cent located between Victoria, the capital, and the International Airport, a belt of 7 by 1 kilometres; 10 per cent on Praslin and La Digue; the other islands account for the remaining 2 per cent. The low population growth rate reflects a low birth rate and until recently, net emigration (Leste, A., Valentin, J., Hoareau, F., 2005).

.1.2.1 Secondary Education

Since 1977 education in the Seychelles has been guided by the following policy concerns: education for all, education for life, and education for social and national development. The numerous reforms that followed independence were driven by the egalitarian principles of providing equal opportunities, the humanitarian principles of social justice and the educational principles of experiential learning. They were spearheaded by structural changes such as "zoning" where "all children had to go to school in their residing districts", by innovations in the secondary school, and the establishment of the polytechnic as the centre for further education. These reforms were consolidated by the amendment of the education act, expansion of the infrastructure to accommodate new schools, development of support services, and the continued renovation of teacher education.

Secondary education is compulsory (a minimum of four years and a maximum of five) and students have to attend one of the 10 regional secondary schools found on the three main islands or one of the three private schools. Enrolment in state secondary schools is 94%, while 4% attend the private schools. The regional schools are inclusive in nature and are generally quite large in size, with 700 to 900 students per school.

The secondary school curriculum for the year 10 and 11 (Secondary 4 and Secondary 5) caters for a certain number of subject choices through an option system which includes core, academic and technical subject combinations. The academic curriculum used to lead to a National and international GCE examinations until 2004. As part of the reforms in education Secondary 4 and Secondary 5 now follow the Cambridge IGCSE syllabus and the French DELF Scolaire (Ministry of education 2004), the first sitting took place in 2005. In the year 2000, it was reported that around 70 percent of secondary school students proceeded to post-secondary institutions.

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.1.2.2 . School context

Two secondary schools have been chosen for this case study. School A is a large school on Mahe, located in the urban area catering for a student population of 860 (438 girls and 422 boys) ranging from 12 to 16 years old. There are 29 classes with an average of 30 pupils per class. The school has 62 teaching and 26 non-teaching staff. The headteacher has been at the school for 2 years.

School B is a medium size school on an inner-island it caters for a student population of 733 (363 girls and 370 boys) ranging from 12 to 16 years old. The school has 54 teaching and 22 non-teaching staff. The headteacher has been at the school for ? years. The students come from different backgrounds. All schools have a head teacher two deputies and head of subjects as members of the management team. School A and school B are fictitious names used to preserve confidentiality. The research activities covered a two-month period, from October to Mid-December 2005.

According to the school development plan (see to find concerns on teaching and earning)


.1.3 Rationale for the study

Within the Ministry of Education Secondary schools are responsible to provide comprehensive education to all its participants through the implementation of the national curriculum. Some of the goals of Secondary Education are that the young adults; 1) develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required in key learning areas to enhance his/her quality of life and contribution to the society, 2) achieve high standards of learning and develop self-confidence, high self-esteem and a commitment to personal excellence, based on a positive set of values, 3) develop the ability and confidence to use the knowledge and skills acquired through formal education to make considered choices an decisions at both the personal and communal level, 4) develop attitudes and competencies for life-long learning an establish the foundations for further education, training and employment.The overriding objective of the Ministry of Education is to deliver a curriculum that will produce flexible, adaptable students, whose education is up to international standard as part of the human resource development strategies of a small state (Ministry of education 2003). This fits well with the changing role of school leaders, from administering the Education System to one of leading and managing it. Whilst our expectations of schools' leadership have changed, this shift until recently, in some stances seem not to have been accompanied by the appropriate preparation to enable teachers to teach effectively and school leaders to lead teaching and enunciate their role as instructional leaders.

Curricular reform had been initiated in the primary and secondary school with the launching of the National Curriculum Framework and the Ministry has been concerned with implementing strategies to improve the quality of education. The School Improvement Programme (SIP), aimed at improving pupils' performance by introducing and implementing development planning in schools, has been functioning since 1995. The Quality Assurance Service set up in 1999 to support the internal evaluation of schools (which originated from SIP) and carry out external evaluation of schools is yet another indication of the Ministry's commitment to high standards and to increase the effectiveness of the education system.

Some of the current problems facing the teaching and learning of secondary subjects are more apparent in Science and Mathematic:1) catering for mixed ability classes with students having a range of ability levels, 2) creating and sustaining interest, motivation and enthusiasm throughout the lesson stages, 3) control and discipline in some mathematics and Science classes particularly lower ability classes, 4) staff absenteeism, 5) teacher expectation on support received from school management, 6) availability of particular teaching and earning resources to cater for different categories of learners, 7) extending the abilities of high-achieving students and 8) encouraging teachers to develop teaching and earning materials for the diversity of learners needs. The Ministry of Education (2004) has identified some of those impeding factors and in some cases it is directing its intervention. Another issue resulting from problems relating to teaching and learning is under-performance especially in , the table below shows performance of secondary students in National Examinations in Mathematics and Sciences. Latest IGCSE (2005) results for all subjects for the schools understudy will be discussed later.

Table 1.1: Performance in National Examination in Mathematics and Sciences

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Year

Subject

Mean

St Deviation

No of students

2000

Maths L1

36.6

19,03

432

Maths L2

31.0

21.99

754

Biology

49.0

17.77

506

Chemistry

33.0

15.03

662

Com Science

22.0

8.25

532

Physics

49.0

16.53

359

2001

Maths L1

36.0

18.30

394

Maths L2

26.0

22.30

889

Biology

39.0

18.9

479

Chemistry

40.0

17.70

653

Com Science

23.0

9.10

634

Physics

45.0

20.40

391

2002

Maths L1

25.2

15.45

446

Maths L2

24.6

22.13

774

Biology

43.6

20.30

510

Chemistry

33.0

18.02

670

Com Science

20.6

9.37

550

Physics

43.1

15.88

374

2003

Maths L1

38.7

16.91

431

Maths L2

26.8

22.16

737

Biology

42.0

17.57

461

Chemistry

29.4

15.9

602

Com Science

2.1

8.17

549

Physics

36.6

16.99

342

Students opting for Level 1 Maths and combined science (equivalent to IGCSE core) performed poorly in comparison to students taking Maths Level 2 and pure science subjects (equivalent to IGCSE extended). However performance in pure Sciences have been low as well, in 2003 20% of students attained marks at and above 36.6% for their Physics national examination as shown in Figure 1.2.

It is evident from the above that effective teaching should be an issue for the Seychelles where students' performances have not been to the satisfaction of stakeholders. Having said that it must be noted that on its part the Ministry has engaged itself in tackling the issue. The IPAM Project (Improving Pupils' Achievement in Mathematics) which is another indication of the Ministry's commitment to high standards and to increase the effectiveness of the education system. The project was initiated by the Mathematics Working Group in 2004 as a response to the needs of the Ministry of Education to promote effective teaching and learning of mathematics. It is hope that this local study will also contribute in this endeavour by identifying the strengths ,weaknesses and giving recommendation pertaining to the practice, management and leading of effective teaching within the context of the two Secondary schools understudy.


.1.4 Aims and Purposes of the study

.1.4.1 Research statement

.1.4.1.1 To study some of the literature treating; current theories and issues on effective teaching


The intention here is to explore current literature on what effective teaching is, what it entails for stakeholders and its impact on learning. It will bring to light the features or structures that need to be in place in schools for its implementation. Along the same line case studies will be referred to in order to examine the implication for local stakeholders. Within effective teaching there is a need to cater for individual needs through differentiated learning opportunities, so a focus will be made on differentiated learning and teaching strategies.

.1.4.1.2 To examine empirical research that has identified the ways that leadership is related to improving teaching and learning

Effective teaching implies that teachers as professionals are able to identify and cater for the needs of all their students through leadership support and management. The focus in this section will therefore be on the characteristics of instructional leadership and its role and impact on teaching and learning.

.1.4.1.3 To explore the current roles of Seychelles school leaders in providing leadership for teaching

The focus here will be on the existing standards in school and Ministry's policies. Existing documents will be analysed to identify the expectations pertaining to teaching and learning. The extent to which stakeholders are being monitored and made accountable will also be considered.

.1.4.1.4 To find out to what extent school leaders are providing leadership for teaching

The research will investigate the extent to which the written roles are being converted to concrete actions. The professional development sessions at school level will be investigated to find out if pedagogical issues are being targeted. The mentoring, monitoring and evaluation procedures and the extent to which they are being lead will also be established from the research.

.1.4.1.5 To investigate the perception of school leaders' of the factors impeding effective teaching

The research will seek to determine if school leaders are aware of those factors and what they are doing to address the impeding factors if any. Within the local context based on the gathered evidence and from all the leadership level of the two secondary schools, factors inhibiting the teaching and learning process will be investigated. It will explore the extent to which existing organizational structures in the two schools facilitate or impede effective teaching.

.1.4.1.6 To investigate the limitations to effective teaching?

This will be in folds; limitations based on findings from case studies or survey carried out internationally and locally detailed in the literature review as well as in the analysis.

.1.4.1.7 To suggest improvements that can be made to the current leadership role in effective teaching

This will be answered through the analysis; it will look at the roles of the leaders from the two schools compared with that of other leaders explored in the literature review. Feasible and practical improvements that can be made within the local context will be detailed. The implications of such improvements in terms of cost, training, manpower, school improvements and leadership style will be taken into account.