Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The Education Management Programme is aimed at teachers from all levels of school education from Nursery, through Primary and finally Secondary. This module will provide you with an insight into all three. If your experience is limited to one level, please ensure that you work through the parts pertaining to the other levels because it is essential that, as a headteacher in Guyana, you would understand the issues faced by all. It is only though having a detailed understanding of the whole school system that you will be thoroughly prepared to meet any challenges that may face you. In addition, many teachers change levels and you will need, therefore, to be prepared in advance if such a move becomes necessary.
The curriculum of a school includes not just the planned academic programme but also all extra‑curricular activities and other events, as well as that which pupils learn through the nature and quality of the school ethos.
The main task of the head of each school is to provide and deliver effectively an appropriate curriculum using all the resources ‑ human, material and financial ‑ which are readily available. This involves mobilising all possible resources including those from the Ministry of Education, the community and other organisations, and then ensuring their full and effective use.
In this module we aim at improving your skills in different aspects of curriculum management, including timetabling, curriculum development and assessment, and resource management, including the provision of textbooks, library and media resources, and their control. The material in Module 5 on Financial Management will provide you with more information about mobilising and managing financial resources.
Individual study time: 27 hours
After working through this module you should be able to:
¨ improve your effectiveness as the manager of the curriculum and the resources which support it
¨ identify how to mobilise financial and material resources for your school and ensure their full and effective use
¨ demonstrate improved asset management and registering of stock in your school
¨ know how the curriculum of nursery, primary and secondary schools may be adapted to the human and natural environments where they are located, and ensure these environments are used.
¨ be a more effective manager of change, and know how to regularly update your school curriculum
¨ ensure your school has a well designed and operated timetable and that the national timetable is used effectively
¨ draw up and apply criteria for the selection of textbooks, and ensure that those available are fully used and properly managed
¨ suggest ways of improving the library, media and low cost teaching aids, including their use
¨ improve the quality of pupil assessment, including providing orderly examining, regular and systematic testing, formative and summative assessment, target setting and full and accurate records
¨ be aware of the need to cater for the educational needs of all children in your school, especially those with S.E.N.
This module is divided into nine units.
Unit 1: Establishing the curriculum 2 hours
The curriculum of your school needs to be adapted to the human and natural environments within which it is located, and to be continuously updated. This unit aims at enabling you to establish your curriculum within the national framework, recognise the diverse nature of the curriculum and undertake its development.
Unit 2: Timetabling 4 hours
In this unit you will identify some of the issues in designing and operating school timetables, including the need for careful preparation and finding ways of organising the timetable to make full use of your teachers, to follow ministry requirements and yet adapt it to the special conditions of your school, and to provide your pupils with choice.
Unit 3: Organising resources to support the curriculum 2 hours
Through this unit you identify the range of resources which are needed by your school, and the difficulties of obtaining them. You will learn how resources may be produced and acquired, and how they may be properly managed.
Unit 4: Selecting and managing textbooks 3 hours
Textbooks provide one of the key teaching and learning resources in your school. You will develop criteria for their selection, and learn how to ensure that the books are fully and properly used.
Unit 5: Libraries, media, and low cost teaching aids 3 hours
There are many ways in which the resources of your school may be improved. In this unit you will identify ways of developing three particular types of resource and how they may be managed.
Unit 6: Examinations, testing and record‑keeping 3 hours
The assessment of the progress of your pupils provides a measure of the level of their performance, which is one of the purposes for which your school exists. In this unit you will review different aspects of assessment, including the importance of record‑keeping as a means of maintaining a profile of the progress of each pupil.
Unit 7. Resource maintenance 3 hours
Through this unit you will recognise the importance of keeping good asset management records and learn of ways in which this may be done.
Unit 8: Finding financial resources 3 hours
Here you will recognise that although governments provide some resources for your school, you cannot expect to rely entirely on this source, and so you need to find ways of adding to those you have.
Unit 9: Special Educational Needs 4 hours
In this unit we will look at the role of the teacher as one who will include every child in his / her classroom. We will examine the nature of Special Needs and some of the issues relating to “Inclusion” in the mainstream classroom. In, particular, we will examine ways that the Headteacher will lead his / her staff to ensure that all children are catered for equally.
In the Introduction to the module on Managing the Curriculum and Resources, an apt definition of the term “curriculum” is given. This definition embraces the planned programme, all extra-curricular activities, pupils’ learning, and the quality of the school ethos. It is necessary to observe and emphasize that the effective curriculum refers to the whole school.
In this unit we consider the meaning of the term curriculum and some of the basic things we need to know about it, including the importance of adapting it to your local contexts and to the needs and abilities of your pupils. Each school Head must know how to manage the curriculum: to follow national guidelines, to develop a school life in a way which will enhance the hidden curriculum which mainly affects pupils’ attitudes, maturity, growth and behaviour.
In Guyana, schools are provided with a National Curriculum but it is essential that Headteachers understand the process of curriculum design and how to adapt it to meet their own local needs.
Individual Study time: 2 hours.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
¨ explain the need for you to manage the establishment, adaptation and development of the school curriculum
¨ identify key factors which need to be taken into account in curriculum design
¨ produce a school curriculum which is compatible with the guidelines laid down by the Guyana Ministry of Education.
Principles and constraints of curriculum design
Explain in your own words the meaning of the term curriculum and identify some constraints which would make it quite difficult to design a good curriculum.
The curriculum has been defined as all the experiences provided by a school to educate the pupils. It also involves helping teachers provide the best information on subject matter, taking into account the interests of pupils and contemporary social needs. A curriculum is a course of subjects and extra-curricular activities that must be covered by the pupils, but it should also aim at developing them intellectually, physically and morally, and at embracing the hidden curriculum which includes behaviour patterns and attitudes of the pupils and staff and the general tone and ethos of the school. The curriculum should be dynamic and be evolving all the time. It is the job of the head to manage this process in the school.
Although it is recognised that in Guyana the Ministry of Education will provide a National Curriculum, it is important to understand some of the basic principles which should be taken into account in designing a school curriculum. These include:
¨ It should embrace all children whatever their gender, race, ethnic group or ability
¨ It should satisfy the philosophy and educational purposes of the school and the nation.
¨ It should be developed from 'grassroots' level and include parent and community contributions.
¨ It should make allowance for the special education needs of pupils.
¨ It should take into consideration the culture, customs and traditions, both of the country and the region.
¨ It should provide practical educational experiences.
Some of the constraints in developing your curriculum might have included the following:-
¨ It is not a task with which everyone in schools is familiar.
¨ It is unlikely that the curriculum can take into account every local tradition.
¨ The curriculum you would like to offer may well be constrained by a lack of physical resources.
¨ There may be problems in selecting a language of instruction which suits the needs of every pupil.
¨ Some teachers believe that they have to follow the official curriculum exactly.
¨ No procedures have been developed in our school or time allowed for curriculum development work.
Using local resources
Subjects where local studies and interpretation should be encouraged include Art and Craft, Geography, History, Agriculture and Science. For each of these subjects indicate some possible ways in which the local environment can be used to enrich the curriculum.
In Guyana where the curriculum is designed and decided centrally, it may appear as though teachers have little or no input. But by indirectly interpreting and implementing the curriculum, successful innovative ideas can ultimately lead to curriculum modification at the national level. You probably thought of many ways in which you already use local resources, for example:
¨ Art and Craft: local designs in cloth, pottery and architecture
¨ Geography: the relationships between the way people live and their environment
¨ History: learning from oral traditions of the people
¨ Agriculture: applying the lessons from local progressive farmers and modern agricultural methods to practice in other local farms and agricultural work that may be done in the school.
Factors governing the curriculum
Consider for a moment the basic factors which need to be considered in curriculum development.
You could also have considered:
¨ the age of the pupils;
¨ the range of ability levels of the pupils;
¨ inter‑relationships between subjects;
¨ the time available for teaching and learning
¨ the availability of funds to provide both specialist facilities, such as science and Information Technology laboratories, consumable resources and books
¨ the level of training and experience of the average teacher
¨ employment opportunities - the type of work and its availability open to those pupils completing school.
¨ In schools with 6th forms, further and higher education specialization and possibilities
The Hidden Curriculum
A school curriculum consists of a number of subjects which give pupils a body of knowledge and skills, co‑curricular activities which create and develop their interests, and the 'hidden curriculum' which mainly affects pupil attitudes, maturity, growth and behaviour. In effect, this is about the personal, social and health education of the child.
Think for as moment about why such issues as the attendance and punctuality of teachers, the way teachers interact with each other, the cleanliness of the school compound, the personality of the school head and the choice of subjects by pupils might be regarded as part of the hidden curriculum.
Although we may reveal some aspects of the hidden curriculum, in fact there will always be many influences on the way pupils behave, on what they learn and on the interests they develop, which we can never plan for in the curriculum or the extra‑curricular programme, or, indeed, ever find out about.
Perhaps one of the most important factors which influences the behaviour of children is the way their role models behave, both students and teachers / parents. Such behaviour is learnt and copied. If teachers do not attend or arrive late, if they do not show respect for each other and their students, if the school compound is not cared for and the headteacher behaves in an unbecoming way, children will learn this behaviour.
It is your responsibility, as Headteacher, to ensure that all of the influences on children whilst they are in school are positive ones. If you allow your staff and pupils to behave in this way, you are failing in your duty to the children. There is a lot we can do to try to influence what happens and your answers to the items above should have illustrated this.
The Hidden Curriculum - Support for students
The section immediately above signals the importance of the “hidden curriculum” which affects in the main, pupils’ attitudes, maturity, growth and behaviour. These features of the pupils’ learning can be considered desirable for young people with regard to their life-long education and development.
In this context, the Ministry of Education has initiated studies within the core curriculum areas such as managing social and sensitive issues and health and family life education. These programmes are a societal intervention aimed at preparing young people for the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.
These have been identified as essential components of meaningful involvement and interventions, improving the quality of pupils’ learning in a better educational environment.
Heads of Schools can employ various strategies in dealing with some of the following issues:
¨ Training for diversity
¨ Social and peer pressures on young people
¨ Physical punishment in schools
¨ Awareness of Special Educational Needs
¨ Awareness of disability
¨ Stress-reduction and relaxation
¨ Health education and social issues.
Consider for a moment whether you actively deal with the above issues in school either through a recognized Ministry of Education programme or your own intervention and whether you leave such issues to chance. Do you think what you do is successful?
You should have evaluated the level of intervention in your own school. Hopefully you will be satisfied with what you do and the results. If there is little happening in your school in this area, it is essential that you initiate a programme as soon as possible.
Creating a total curriculum
In Guyana the concepts of democracy, self‑reliance and national identity are deliberately included in the daily activities and general running of each school.
Which of the statements below is describing something which supports either the Core Curriculum, the Hidden Curriculum or is part of extra-curricular activities?
Identifying the total curriculum
Place each of the following curricular activities into one of the three categories below:-
Extra Curricular Activities
1. Discuss moral issues at the school assembly.
2. Ensure that the school library is stocked with relevant, up‑to‑date texts.
3. Organize internal school and staff development workshops for teachers.
4. Encourage pupil participation in running the school through a prefect system.
5. Request and ensure adequate and appropriate facilities and supplies.
6. Allow teachers to participate in curriculum panels.
7. Check the effect of curriculum on the attitudes and behaviour of pupils.
8. Encourage the formation of clubs and societies and participation of pupils.
9. Expect good work ethics amongst teachers.
10. Ensure that supplementary books and support materials are available.
Many of these statements support two or more areas of the curriculum. In essence, that which forms part of the National Curriculum and relates to traditionally taught subjects or even deals with moral and social issues and is taught formally to all children in a year group forms the Core Curriculum. That which is not necessarily taught formally and deals with the general ethos of the school and how people behave is the Hidden Curriculum. All other activities which are not part of the normal curriculum, are taught to all, are generally voluntary and often take place outside of normal school hours are Extra-curricular.
In Guyana, as already started, there is a National Curriculum and therefore all children in all parts of the country are expected to follow the same programmes of study, Curriculum Guides are provided in all subjects at the different levels and are regularly updated. In areas such as Literacy and Numeracy, Scope and Sequence Charts are also provided and considerable advice is given to teachers through this literature to assist them in their teaching.
It is essential, therefore, that you as the Headteacher are familiar with all of this information and can advise teachers in its use. This, of course, is more of a challenge when we consider the range and variety of subjects offered in secondary schools. Here we will rely on others to assist us in our dissemination of information.
A thorough knowledge of curricular issues is essential for you to be the Lead Professional in your school.
Consider the following case study about a new Headteacher and draw your own conclusions about the wisdom of the preparations she made. Would you have added any or have considered any of them to be unnecessary.
A teacher was appointed head in a new secondary school, 200 kilometers from her home in an area unknown to her. Before arriving at her new school she did some advance work on curriculum planning. In order to do this she collected data and advice from a number of sources as follows:-
¨ Her current Headteacher
¨ Her father, a subsistence farmer
¨ The Captain of the village, one of the most respected of traditional leaders in the area
¨ Published educational legislation
¨ Her former primary school head
¨ A visiting teacher on holiday from the region to which she has been appointed
¨ Curriculum Guides in all subjects
¨ The REDO
¨ The DEOs
¨ The officers of the RDC
¨ The outgoing Headteacher
¨ The school staff
A new school head will have a lot to learn about the curriculum existing in his / her school and about the development work which will be needed. (S)He will need to learn about the 'official' curriculum, but also about the nature and quality of the work presently done in the new school, about the pupils, the teachers and the community, as well as about the whole environment in which the school is located. Thus (s)he should consult with a wide variety of people in order to inform himself / herself about every aspect of school life.
Literacy and Numeracy across the Curriculum
It is important that, in this unit, reference must be made to the basic curriculum without which all other areas would be difficult to access. Children need a firm foundation in all aspects of Literacy – the ability to read and write as well as popular literature which will encourage reading as a pleasurable activity. Numeracy is also essential and is the basis of so many other areas such as science, technology and agriculture.
For Nursery and Primary teachers, providing for this basic curriculum is second nature. However, there is a tendency, sometimes amongst secondary teachers and upper primary, for teachers to believe that it is not their role to teach these areas. They consider it to be the job of those lower down the school.
In Guyana, this is a fallacious argument. Literacy and Numeracy levels in many schools especially Community High Schools and those where lower ability children attend, are not always as good as they might be. Without basic levels of literacy, other aspects of the curriculum cannot be accessed. It is, therefore, essential that the school provides a programme which ensures that there is a literacy and numeracy element in every lesson which is supported by a policy of “Literacy and Numeracy across the Curriculum”. Teachers need to accept that it is not only their role but their responsibility to ensure that within their own subject all children can function in these vital areas. All teachers, therefore, are not only teachers of their own subject but also support English and Mathematics teachers to provide adequate practice within their own classrooms.
Special Educational Needs
Finally, we must remember that all children have needs but for some those needs are greater and often more permanent. We are not referring here merely to those children who may have a physical or mental disability which challenges them in their education but also to the many who have learning difficulties as a result of a variety of reasons from general lower ability to more serious difficulties such as autism or dyslexia.
All of these children must be catered for and it is the responsibility to ensure that this happens. We will go into much more detail in the final part of this module in Unit 9.
In this unit we have demonstrated that there are many forms of curriculum all of which need to be recognized and planned. A school curriculum embraces the whole life of the school and is the main resource for improving the quality of pupils’ learning – that is, the learning of ALL children. Some important concepts are use of resources, the hidden curriculum, the total curriculum and factors governing the curriculum. Every head has a considerable task in ensuring a full and balanced curriculum in his/her school.
FACTORS GOVERNING THE CURRICULUM
CREATING THE TOTAL CURRICULUM
PRINCIPLES AND CONSTRAINTS OF CURRICULUM DESIGN
LOCAL RESOURCES AND LEARNING
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITES
THE HIDDEN CURRICULUM
Timetabling is the method by which the curriculum is brought to the pupils. The head of a school has a number of resources at his or her command ‑ teachers, teaching areas, finance and time. A timetable is the means by which these resources are organized to provide the greatest possible educational opportunities and alternatives for pupils in the most cost‑effective manner. In Guyana, the emphasis on cost‑effectiveness cannot be overstated. The more efficiently resources are utilized, the better the education for the greater number of children. Decisions expressed by the timetable affect the entire school population and reflect the educational programme and philosophy of the school.
In Guyana there is a National Curriculum at all levels and teachers are expected to follow it. In primary schools, the curriculum is delivered to the children through a timetable produced by the Ministry of Education. This is translated by the Headteacher and his / her staff into an Operational Timetable which reflects the local and school situation and is adjusted according to the staff and resources available. If, in a primary school, there is no teacher available to teach Spanish or Physical Education, local changes will have to be made until this can be resolved. In Nursery schools, a National timetable is provided and there is some flexibility as to how this is interpreted as long as the main principles are followed.
In secondary schools, for the most part, there is more flexibility as the curriculum is organized into a wider range of subjects, some of which are part of the core curriculum and others are optional. Whereas in primary and nursery schools children tend to be taught by one teacher, secondary school children are taught in classes with different teachers for different subjects. All schools have, to a certain extent, the opportunity to organize classes according to ability through streaming and setting or banding for different subjects. This complex situation means that the secondary timetable cannot be a national one. Much of this unit will look at the way this timetable might be developed. In many countries, timetables are no longer produced by hand but by complex computer programs which will provide individual timetables for teachers and children as well as the main timetable for the staffroom, room availability timetables and a considerable amount of data which enables the Headteacher to understand fully what is happening in his / her school through a detailed curriculum analysis. There is no doubt that schools in Guyana will follow this trend in good time.
Individual study time: 4 hours
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
¨ have a basic understanding of timetable construction
¨ appreciate the timetable as a device enabling quality education
¨ realize the amount of time and complexity of thought that goes into the production of a good timetable
¨ recognize the limits and constraints of a timetable
¨ comply with the period allocations prescribed by the Ministry of Education
¨ be aware of the need to:
o make full use of all teaching and specialist areas in the school;
o ensure the workloads of all teachers comply with Ministry requirements;
o allow for immediate changes to meet emergency situations;
o give pupils a choice of optional subjects to fit their career prospects.
Principles and constraints of timetable design
Let us first of all identify some of the principles upon which you should base your timetable design and which the Ministry of Education will have taken into account in producing the national timetable for younger children.
1. In essence a timetable should be pupil‑centered to maximize learning opportunities: arranged with a variety of activities, with subjects spaced to sustain the children's interests and motivation, and taking into account age, concentration span, ability range, single grouping, class sizes and pupil career ambitions.
2. The best and most efficient deployment of teachers can be achieved if:
¨ the teaching establishment of the school has been correctly determined
¨ all the subjects are fully covered
¨ there is a staffing equilibrium in terms of experience, gender and age
¨ the frequency of transfer of teachers is minimized
¨ teaching loads are balanced across the timetable.
3. The pupil capacity of a school is controlled by its buildings; as far as possible all teaching areas should be fully utilized. An important decision has to be made whether teachers move from teaching area to teaching area, whether pupils move, or whether both move.
4. Emergencies will lead to timetable adjustment. A good timetable should be flexible, allowing adjustments to be made with the minimum disruption to school life. This applies to all levels of schools.
5. Allowance has to be made within the timetable organisation, including non‑teaching time for:
¨ pupil registration, assemblies, time between periods to change books and materials, pupil guidance and welfare
¨ staff development including departmental meetings, staff meetings and in‑service workshops.
6. Staff should be deployed vertically and horizontally across the timetable; this means that teachers should teach at different levels and not just be allocated completing or beginning classes.
7. Teachers should be timetabled to teach the subjects in which they are trained.
8. There should be a balance in the timetable in the sense that not too many double periods or practical subjects should follow one after the other.
The following are some of the factors which will limit your freedom in your design of the school timetable in secondary schools and the operational timetable in nursery and primary schools.
Time: 'Restricted time' is time determined by ministry policies over which the head has no control - for example when the following are determined - the number of periods per day, the number of periods per subject, the length of a period, and the time of school broadcasts.
'Disposable time' is controlled by the school and reflected in the timetable, such as when a subject is taught, when registration occurs, the length of formal study time, the allocation of non‑teaching time, and the use of double, single or triple periods.
Teacher availability: This can seriously affect a timetable, determining class sizes, subject choice and the quality of education offered.
School buildings: The design, type and number of these directly affects the timetable in the number and variety of subjects offered, the number of classes, the size of classes, the size of the school, the quality of study opportunity, library access and usage, and teacher/pupil ratios.
Traditional attitudes: These can militate against the innovative use of resources which would add to the school's efficiency, such as how the school hall is used, and the time of registration and assembly
Lack of public utilities: This can restrict the timetable, for example, no electricity can mean no evening work; a lack of water can affect Art, Science, Agriculture and Home Economics.
The timing of the school day: This is related to the size of the school's catchment area. The greater the travelling distance for pupils the shorter the school day.
Adhering to the timetable: If teachers do not adhere to the timetable this will reduce its effectiveness as the framework for planning the time available for learning.
In this unit we consider the operational timetable for formal lessons in nursery and primary schools and the main timetable for secondary schools. As the degree of timetabling complexity differs for the various levels of primary and secondary education, it is better to consider each level separately.
Before studying the following steps in the use of a nursery timetable, consider for a moment your experience in this area and what you feel you need to learn about it.
Timetable preparation in nursery schools
There is a national timetable in nursery schools which teachers are expected to follow. It allocates time and establishes a sequence for activities in the classroom. It is important that the daily schedule suits the development and individual needs of the children which ensures that classroom life proceeds smoothly and is enjoyable and productive for everyone. The schedule for nursery schools includes the following different types of activity:-
¨ Active and quiet times
¨ Large group activities
¨ Small group activities
¨ Time to play individually or in groups
¨ Teacher directed activities
¨ Time for children to select their own activities
The daily schedule establishes the consistency that helps young children to predict the sequence of events and thus feel more secure in the classroom. A schedule also helps children to develop a time concept. This does not mean, however, that a special occurrence can not be a good reason for altering the daily routine. Likewise, when children are engrossed in an activity, it is perfectly acceptable to extend the time. Thus, it is perfectly all right to be flexible about the time when children are working well and purposefully engaged.
The Headteacher is responsible for ensuring that the timetable is carried out, to monitor its use and to ensure that it runs smoothly. This will be done by being around the school, observing lessons and giving feedback to teachers on their performance.
The following subjects are included in the timetable and are delivered in a variety of ways:-
Language Experience (e.g. Daily News, observation and recall), Phonemic Awareness, Story telling, Reading, Mathematics (e.g. numbers, rhyme and song), Science, Social Studies, Health and Family Life, Skill Development (e.g. colouring, modeling), Singing, Music, Movement, Drama.
If you are a Nursery School Teacher, please obtain a copy of the “Teacher’s Manual for the Timetable – Nursery Years 1 & 2”” which is available in all schools from the Headteacher.
Timetable preparation in primary schools
Under normal circumstances there is one classroom or teaching area, and one teacher for each class.
The timetable is directed by the Ministry of Education and it must be followed. However, there are practical and local issues which will affect its operation. This is why an operational timetable needs to be drawn up. Often, in lower classes teachers draw up the timetable themselves, adopting a flexible approach to the day’s activities, whereas in the remaining classes teachers follow a formal timetable. However, when there is only one teacher for a specialist subject, timetabling will have to take account of this.
Before studying the following steps in the production of a primary timetable, consider for a moment your experience in this area and what you feel you need to learn about it.
If you have not yet had the opportunity to prepare a timetable to meet the needs of your school, try to go through the following steps as far as it is practicable.
Step 1: Collect and have available all relevant Ministry directives on time and subject allocations. It is important to ensure that the timetable meets all the requirements of these directives.
Step 2: List all the teaching areas in your school. For example:-
¨ science room
¨ playing fields
¨ other spaces
Calculate how many classes may be accommodated in your school at one time. You should note that a class working for a period of time in the school library or on the playing field may be regarded as accommodated for that period. However, the extent to which it is necessary to plan with such attention to the full use of every space will depend upon the pressure of numbers of pupils.
Step 3: Note how many class teachers are on your establishment. Allocate teachers and classes to classrooms or teaching spaces.
Step 4: Special education teachers, if available, will have to be timetabled separately to serve the needs of pupils with special needs whilst they are part of a class. Individual class timetables will have to be consulted and possibly adjusted to remove clashes.
Step 5: Note any situations where you have only one teacher who can deliver a subject e.g. Spanish. Make arrangements for that teacher to give lessons to all who should be taught Spanish and for the teacher who is replaced to take the Spanish teacher’s class for another subject on a regular basis. This should be a regular timetabled slot which takes place each week.
Step 6: If you wish to set classes i.e. divide them up according to ability for a particular subject e.g. English and Maths; ensure that all classes which are to be set are timetabled for those subjects at the same time. Children in each set will move to the different classroom for that period of time and return to their normal teacher at the end of the period.
Step 7: In the event that you have additional staff (although a rare occurrence but it does happen from time to time) ensure that they are fully timetabled either as Special Educational Needs Support Teachers or to take classes for absent colleagues. They may be used also to reduce class sizes or team-teach as appropriate.
Responsibilities of the head
The teachers in the primary school need to have an input into the Operational Timetable. The head then takes into account their needs and then prepares the Operational Timetable for the school. The overall responsibilities of the head are to ensure that:
¨ government directives and policies, and especially the national timetable, are complied with;
¨ each teacher makes the fullest use of school resources;
¨ clashes between individual teacher's timetabling demands are resolved amicably and fairly;
¨ special education teachers are used appropriately;
¨ All teachers are used to the fullest extent.
The Headteacher is responsible for ensuring that the timetable is carried out, to monitor its use and to ensure that it runs smoothly. This will be done by being around the school, observing lessons and giving feedback to teachers on their performance.
Double session primary schools
Double session arrangements occur where the number of pupils in a school catchment area exceeds its pupil capacity. It can also happen on a temporary basis when there is refurbishment or rebuilding is taking place. It is therefore necessary to maximize the use of the physical plant and facilities by operating the school in two sessions. As many primary schools in the Guyanese interior do not have electricity, the time when the school can operate is determined by the daylight hours. The first session may begin as early as 08.00 and continues till 12.00; the second session may be from 12.30 to 16.30. In some primary schools the two sessions overlap.
Two sessions do not mean two schools; one head is in charge of the school for both sessions. Opportunities for extra‑curricular activities are reduced, but can exist for each session provided there is a timetabling plan to make use of the recreational and game facilities, the school garden and library. Without such timetables (one for each session) classroom instruction and learning will remain the sole means of education and many of the wider values of schooling will be lost.
Preparation for writing the timetable in secondary schools
A secondary school timetable consists of three major components which in themselves can be the bases of separate timetables, namely: teachers, classes or teaching groups, and rooms. It is essential that thorough preparation takes place before the timetable proper is constructed. The steps below will take you through this phase.
It is not for this programme to give detailed instructions about the formulation of a timetable as this is better learnt through working with others and in a separate workshop. However, it is important that all Headteachers understand the principles involved and the implications for providing a quality education.
As you did for the nursery and primary, reflect for a moment on your experience in this area and what you feel you need to learn about it.
If you are a secondary teacher and you have not yet had the opportunity to prepare a timetable to meet the needs of your school, try to go through the following steps as far as it is practicable.
How you approach this will, of course, depend on the size and type of your school and the age range and ability levels of your pupils. In Guyana, secondary students are taught in:-
¨ Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) which will cater for the full age range including 6th form and will take children of mainly higher ability. Only 5% of students attend these 9 schools.
¨ General Secondary Schools (GSS) which will have a programme from forms 1 – 3 and some children staying to take CSEC (CXC) Exams in forms 4 & 5. Some schools refer to these forms as “Years” or “Levels” 7 – 11. The ability range of the school depends each year on the performance of the pupils in the Grade 6 Assessments and therefore is more focused on a particular ability range rather than the full range.
¨ Community High Schools (CHS) will generally have a programme for Forms 1 - 5 and cater for children who have been unsuccessful in the Grade 6 Assessments.
¨ Primary Tops (PTT) Although these are being phased out, at the time of writing these still catered for 15% of secondary pupils outside of Georgetown. They are an extension to the primary school and the timetable will often be similar in style to that of the primary school. (See above)
Schools with 6th forms leading to A Level or CAPE and with forms 4 & 5 students who will write the CSEC examinations will have timetables which will be extended beyond the core curriculum to allow children to take optional subjects. This must be taken into consideration when following the steps below:-
Step 1: Collect and have available all relevant Ministry directives on time and subject allocations. It is important to ensure that the timetable meets all the requirements of these directives.
Step 2: List the number of teaching areas in the school.
¨ outdoor teaching areas
¨ library (if classes are held there)
¨ school garden
¨ school hall
¨ any other space
Step 3: Note any limiting factors: the teaching space can only accommodate half a class, cannot be used for academic work or examinations, or can only be used for certain types of lesson.
Step 4: List the number of teaching subjects and identify each as either 'core' or 'optional'.
A core subject is one which all pupils must study; an optional subject is one which a pupil can opt to study. Forms 1 - 3 generally follow a core curriculum with older children following a core e.g. English, Maths, Science, Social Studies, IT which takes up 60% of curriculum time. Other optional subjects will occupy 40% of the total curriculum.
Step 5: Ensure that the time allotments prescribed by the Ministry of Education are adhered to. Perhaps the most common pattern is 40 minute teaching periods, an eight period day, and a five day week with each covering 40 periods a week.
Step 6: List your teachers by name and subject according to their responsibilities, starting with the Senior Leadership Team, other Senior Teachers, Heads of Department and so on. Ensure that you are fully aware of the subjects your teachers are qualified to teach and are able and willing to teach. There is a big difference and the latter should only be used when you have no other options.
Name of Teacher Mr Samaroo
Subject 1 Spanish
Subject 2 English (a)
Subject 3 English (b)
Step 7: Decide on the teaching load of each of your teachers according to their level of seniority and time required to fulfill other duties. This should be an agreed formula and be fair and transparent to all. This may very well form part of a Ministry of Education or Teacher Service Commission directive for some schools. You will express this both as a percentage teaching load and numbers of periods out of the maximum.
e.g. 35 periods = 87.5%
Name of Teacher Mr Scott Sharland
Designation HOD Soc St
Number of Teaching Periods 30
Percentage Teaching Load 75%
Step 8: Meet senior staff and Heads of Department to find their timetabling needs with regard to:
¨ preferred teaching time during the day
¨ subject weekly timetable distribution
¨ single, double, or triple periods
¨ study time requirements
¨ departmental meeting time requirements so that all within a department might be timetabled to have non contact time together. This is not always possible.
Step 9: Collect data on pupil preference in optional subjects. Note that this is a simplified chart for demonstration purposes. Most schools would have considerably more options.
NB You will need to view the PDF version to see this diagram - see sidebar on the right
(Note: D & T = Design and Technology; HE = Home Economics; RE = Religious Education)
If Geography is the most popular subject and Commerce the least popular, are there enough teachers of Geography? If not, some pupils opting for Geography will have to be encouraged to choose Commerce instead. Are there sufficient pupils to make up a class of D & T? (Remember in some practical subjects, such as D & T and Food Studies, usually only half the normal sized class can be accommodated at one time.)
Step 10: This stage is complex and requires great skill and practice. The options you have decided upon and children have chosen will need to be divided into blocks for timetable purposes. That is, 4 or 5 of the options will all have to be taught at the same time. The composition of the blocks will depend on the pupil choices. It may be necessary to place some more popular subjects into more than one option block so that you can meet the needs of all your pupils.
A simplified version of this can be found below for illustration purposes. Most schools will be much more complex than this.
3 Periods per week
D & T
3 Periods per week
3 Periods per week
¨ The number of teachers you have to teach the subject.
¨ The optimum class size. It cannot be too large and too small is uneconomical and you will not be able to afford the staff.
¨ The number of specialist rooms you have available at any one time.
¨ The resources available to you in each subject area.
In the above option blocks, identify the following:
¨ The most popular subjects the children have chosen
¨ Combinations of subjects that children will be unable to choose
The most popular subjects will be those that have been placed in two option blocks or for which there are two groups in the same block (e.g. English (B) and History). When there are two groups in the same block, the children can be set according to ability.
Children will not be able to choose two or more subjects from the same block because they are being taught at the same time. E.g. Drama, Dance and P.E. This can be used to restrict pupils’ choices and ensure that they have a balanced curriculum E.g. not too many physical or practical subjects.
When putting four practical subjects together such as in Option 3, it is essential to note whether you have sufficient rooms to be able to accommodate them.
Step 10 (b): A simpler although more restrictive process is to create the blocks first and allow the children to choose from them. You will probably have to adjust the blocks somewhat after the choices have been made to accommodate as many children as possible.
N.B. It is unlikely that you will have 100% success using either of these methods especially in a school with only a few forms 4 and 5 pupils. Even computer programs rarely achieve this. Remember also that when timetabling you will have to place the options of form 4 and form 5 at different times as you will not have enough rooms or teachers,
In schools with 6th forms, options are the greater part of the curriculum for 16 – 19 year olds. Class sizes will be smaller and the provision of specialist rooms is even more critical. We will not deal with this here as it is better that on-the-job training is done by an experienced timetabler in the school.
Remember to involve all the teachers in timetable compilation whenever possible.
Step 11: Decide which subjects each teacher will teach to which classes for how many periods to fill their timetable loading.
Step 12: Using the above information, adjust your optional subject programme to ease the teacher shortage if this is possible. If not, there are alternative methods which could be used to ensure as many options are available as possible. For example, you could reduce the number of weekly teaching periods.
Step 13: Identify the amount of non‑teaching time which should be timetabled to allow for registration, for student welfare and guidance, for assemblies and for meals.
You are now ready to construct the timetable itself and will be asked to follow the steps below. Firstly, however, you will need to decide by which method you are going to display it.
There are several ways of presenting a timetable, for example, a large sheet of paper using colour coding, blackboard, whiteboard, magnetic board, peg board, pin board, computer printouts. Choose the most convenient way for your situation. Study the sample shown below.
NB You will need to view the PDF version to see this diagram - see sidebar on the right
Teacher1. Class timetable
A margin along the left hand side is left for the name of each class. On each line, each column has space for three entries, namely, 'subject', 'room' and 'teacher'. All this information is essential.
The teacher timetables and room timetables should be compiled simultaneously. Examples for Monday only can be found below:-
Subject2. Teacher Timetable
Note that the sample given above is limited in that it can only be used for a weekly, five day timetable. No allowance is made for six, seven or two-weekly timetables preferred by some heads. Comments on this type of timetable are made later in this unit.
Constructing the Timetable
Step 1: Determine the order in which information is going to be entered on the timetable. Priorities will be decided by demand. If there is great demand on specialist teaching facilities, then the subjects, teachers and classes using these rooms should be entered first.
A school has three science rooms and 27 classes, with each class having six periods of science in the form of three double periods a week.
The school operates a 40 period per week timetable.
With three rooms this means 120 periods a week can be taught in the science rooms each week.
But there are 27 classes, each of which has six periods of science a week. So the total demand on the science rooms is:
27 classes x 6 periods a week = 162 science periods a week.
If the science rooms are fully utilized how many science periods will have to be taught in non‑science rooms?
If a double period was added to the timetable every afternoon would this solve the problem?
Which classes should receive priority for accommodation in the science rooms?
The number of science periods taught in non science rooms would be equal to the number of periods required (162) less the availability of rooms (120).
A double period at the end of every day would provide 10 extra periods. It would help but not solve the problem but would create other problems in terms of pupil departure times and the availability of teachers.
Priority would always be given to examination classes and those for which practical facilities are essential – usually the older children.
You should now see the reason for timetabling subjects with specialist rooms and a large number of periods, such as science, before any other subject.
Step 2: Choose the most difficult subject to timetable (see above) and work across the timetable entering three pieces of information at the same time: 'subject', 'teacher' and 'room'. Do not try to complete one day and then move onto the next ‑ such an approach will lead to chaos! At this stage it is essential that you have chosen the right media for display i.e. one where corrections and alterations can be made easily.
Step 3: After entering a subject across the timetable, check teacher and room timetables to ensure that all the information matches.
Step 4: In making entries think both laterally and vertically so that the final entries will cause fewer problems.
A typical Years 7 - 9 programme, on a 40 period cycle, may be built up of English (6), Mathematics (6), Science (4) Social Studies (4), Reading (2), Spanish (2) Visual Arts (2), Expressive Arts (2), Agricultural Science (4), Home Economics (4), Industrial Technology (4)
The element of subject rotation arises in Technical /Art/ Home Economics where rotation between these subjects may take place to enable pupils to experience each subject and decide (with guidance) which subject to study in depth in later years. Rotation may take place throughout the course or for a limited period of time in the first few weeks in these particular subject areas.
At the end of Year 9 (Form 3) pupils, with guidance, opt for the CSEC subjects they will study. Pupil choice, within the other parameters we have identified, will help to determine the character of the timetable.
Before carrying out the final steps, you will need to consider the time frame and devices for pupil grouping.
The time frame
1. LENGTH OF PERIODS
The 40 minute period fits well with research that the attention span of the average secondary pupil begins to decline after 30/40 minutes. Double periods of 80 minutes reduce the amount of work for timetablers but their desirability must be carefully considered, taking into account the amount of project and practical work in a subject. Multiple periods suit practical subjects but create problems when dealing with option blocks.
2. LENGTH OF DAY/NUMBER OF PERIODS PER DAY
Usually the morning hours are timetabled for the teaching and learning of more academic subjects whilst the afternoons are often devoted to more practical subjects and sporting activities. This, of course, cannot be the case for every day of the week. However, a timetable based on nine 35 minute periods gives greater flexibility for the timetabler. In Guyana, timings are often standardized where possible.
3. LENGTH CYCLE
Instead of the conventional five day week, it is possible to have six, seven or even 10 day weeks (fortnightly timetable), an arrangement which gives more flexibility in subject/period allocations, and also means that teachers/pupils are not tied to a particular subject for Fridays and Mondays throughout the term or year. This is rare in Guyana although it provides flexibility.
Timetabling devices for alternative pupil grouping
This occurs where certain classes are timetabled together throughout the timetable for key subjects such as Mathematics or English. The number of groups created depends on the number of subject teachers available. Given this arrangement it is possible to
¨ form ability groups or mixed ability groups of different sizes
¨ change teachers according to the topic being taught
¨ cover for absent teachers with the minimum disruption
¨ form smaller or larger groups according to teacher availability
This device can only be used in larger schools where there are sufficient classes in the same year and sufficient subject teachers.
For an example, see below (E = English; M = Mathematics).
This device is used to provide alternatives for pupils within the slot on the timetable. It is essential where classes have to be half the normal size, for example, Design and Technology, Art, Home Economics. A number of classes within the same year can be timetabled together throughout the timetable and offered a number of options. A pupil chooses one from the selection of optional subjects on offer. There is no reason why the same option group cannot be offered twice on the timetable affording the pupils a second alternative. Option columns may contain more classes than the nominal number of classes having access to them, permitting the creation of small classes in certain practical subjects without overloading other subject classes. Adjustments can be made from year to year in the contents of these option columns. Thus if the demand for Geography falls and that for History rises, Geography can be replaced in part by History provided the school has teacher capability.
Example of setting
Both blocking and setting are infinitely better than streaming where whole classes are decided on the ability levels of pupils.
Step 5: List the option groups you intend to form, indicating subjects and size of classes in each subject. Enter these groups as blocks into the timetable.
Step 6: Enter the core subjects for Forms 4 & 5 (Years 10 and 11)
Step 7: Work out a first year (year 7) programme which will meet pupil needs. Translate the programme into timetable form. Repeat for the other years.
Although the method above has been simplified considerably, it should assist you in understanding the process.
It is imperative that each school head selects or devises a pupil‑centered timetabled programme which is most appropriate to the school's circumstances.
We recommend strongly that you read the following:-
“Towards School Effectiveness” – Guidelines for Secondary Teachers and School Management Dr Kenneth Hunte 2005
This should be available in most Regional Departments of Education and in many schools from the Headteacher. If you are able to obtain your own copy it would be an asset.
A school timetable should give full information in three distinct areas, namely: teaching stations, teaching staff and class distribution, and subjects taught at certain times for each teaching day.
In order to compile a meaningful timetable the school head must be aware of the necessity to consult others so as to make full preparations and collect all the relevant data. He or she must command the expertise to direct the production of a timetable which will serve the needs of all categories, intellects and aptitudes among the school's pupils. Finally, the head must know and be able to apply such timetable devices as blocking, setting the extended day and week, and double sessions, in order to meet the special circumstances which may prevail in the school.
The nature and quality of the curriculum offered in a school is closely related to the resources which are available, and, most importantly, how well they are used. It is necessary to understand that the quality of student learning and therefore the nurturing of student behaviour hinge on how well the available resources are used. In this unit we consider the issues of the availability and adequate use of resources and some of the problems school heads face in managing resources. Even where finance is available, it is still important to improvise and adapt from the local environment.
Individual study time: 2 hours.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
¨ display a thorough knowledge of resources and the way they should be organised for the promotion of learning/ teaching in schools
¨ explain the need to produce and acquire resources
¨ recognise constraints in the management of resources
¨ find ways of managing resources properly.
Types of resources and constraints
Reflect on some of the resources which are available to all of us in schools. Think about the constraints you have as a school head in managing your resources.
You will probably have identified quite a number of constraints which considerably hinder the ability of you and your teachers to provide the curriculum you would wish. Which of the following did you identify?
¨ shortage or lack of storage facilities
¨ lack of skills and expertise needed to identify and use resources properly
¨ inadequate sources of supply of the required resources
¨ insufficient means of transport to distribute resources
¨ lack of skills in how to manage time and space effectively
¨ insufficient financial provision
¨ inappropriate and unimaginative training of teachers
Take the examples of resources in the chart below and place them in the correct category using the following headings.
¨ school day
¨ audio‑visual aids
¨ PTA funds
¨ period allocations
¨ furniture study time
¨ ancillary staff
¨ kits for science
¨ school infrastructure
¨ board of governors
¨ petty cash
¨ library books
¨ teachers' guides
¨ community resource persons
This list and your answers demonstrate the range of resources available to us. Everything we see and touch is a resource which perhaps we could use. Thus resources extend far beyond textbooks, include many things which cannot be provided by the Ministry of Education and include many resources which cost nothing. From this you may see that the management of resources by a school head requires considerable skills.
Everyone uses resources.
What resources do the following people use: head of school, pupils, teachers, security guard and secretary?
Who, in your school, is directly responsible for securing the following resources for the school: teachers, stationery, information on careers, classroom furniture, science kits, sports equipment and food?
In what ways can the persons named above be helped to make effective use of these resources?
We are all users of many resources, some of which are our own, but most of which we share with other people. Similarly we all have responsibility for managing resources, both our own and those we share. For teachers and other staff, it is important that the extent of their individual responsibilities should be written into their job descriptions. The appraisal of the work of everyone in a school should take into account how well they manage resources. The qualities of leadership which we look for in both pupils and teachers (and most of all school heads) depends to a large extent on their resource management abilities. Everyone needs to be helped to develop their skills in this area, both through pre‑service training on the part of teachers and through everyday training and supervision. The school head is responsible for developing this appreciation of resources and the involvement of everyone in their management.
Resources have to be looked after properly. The school delegates this responsibility and monitors the performance of the individuals concerned. For each of the resources listed below give the post of the person responsible, where the resource is normally stored and any special management this requires.
Chemicals for science
Resources which are purchased from school funds require special attention. For this reason the head usually delegates authority and responsibility to key teachers and members of the support staff, and ensures the provision of storage and appropriate management.
The shortage of any resource ‑ teachers, classrooms, finance, time ‑ reduces the extent to which the curriculum can be delivered effectively. Shortages can occur because of poor school management procedures, including, for example:
¨ failure to make proper staffing vacancy returns
¨ failure to keep appropriate records of consumable stock
¨ poor maintenance routines
¨ poor planning of use of available funds
¨ inability to maintain resources to acceptable standards resulting in deterioration
¨ Failure to keep an up-to-date asset register
¨ lack of time management
Shortages can also occur because of factors external to and beyond the control of the school management, including, for example:
¨ inadequate funding
¨ lack of available transport
¨ limitations in the capacity of the supplier making it impossible to meet the needs of the school
¨ inability of the Teacher Service Commission to provide suitably qualified teachers as and when required
¨ lack of creativity and resourcefulness on the part of staff members
¨ Non‑existence of environmental resources, for example, a lesson on mountains could suffer in a place where there are none
¨ no electricity or source of power.
From your own experience consider the main problems you face as a school head in the maintenance of resources? How does it compare to the list above?
It is important to recognise that shortages originating within the school may be overcome by good school management practices, but first it is necessary to identify the cause of the shortages and then make the required changes in the school's internal routines to try to improve the situation.
More effective resource maintenance
The management of resources needs to be planned. You and your staff could manage the resources in your school more effectively by:
¨ better planning to identify resource needs and how they may be satisfied and, in particular, linking curriculum planning to resource development
¨ better pre‑service, in‑service and on‑the‑job training for those who use resources
¨ more effective use of storage facilities
¨ more accurate and punctual maintenance of all resource records and the asset register
¨ setting up systems by which resources are shared both within the school and between schools
¨ closer supervision and more accountability of both staff and pupils.
There are many benefits your school will derive from a more effective management of resources.
By managing the school's resources more effectively the head will achieve easier access to available resources, a higher level of achievement of the curriculum objectives and a full and proper utilisation of all resources. In addition it is likely that the teachers will become more creative and positive and their lessons will become more varied, focused and interesting, resulting in more use of learner‑centered methods.
Production of resources
A fundamental characteristic of a good learning environment is one where creativity and innovation are fostered and promoted. Do your teachers experiment with new ideas with regard to locating, developing and using new resources?
Resources in Guyana can often be scarce. Such items as paper, card, scissors and glue are not always readily available in schools. Sometimes this is because of lack of funds and on other occasions it occurs through lack of planning and organization. Hence, cardboard boxes are a substitute for sheets of card and sticky plastic tape is a replacement for an electric laminator.
Reflect for a moment on one or two ways in which you and your staff have recently demonstrated a capacity for self‑help and experimentation in resourcing your school and its curriculum. Consider, in this context, which resources you are often short of and how you could replace them with something else.
As with all human endeavours, team work in the production and care of resources is not only beneficial but much less labour-intensive. It helps also to catalogue and carefully store resources, especially multiple copies of worksheets, so that they can be used by all and will last longer.
In every school there should always be an emphasis on improving the conditions for pupil learning, which will in turn depend on teacher self-development, motivation and commitment. Good, available resources will lead to greater satisfaction amongst both pupils and staff. In order to accomplish this, the school head must plan, anticipate, consult, supervise and act in a timely manner; so as to ensure that all the resources which are required are identified, developed and fully used in a responsible manner. It is useful to emphasize that the nurturing of student learning behaviour is determined in the main by the effective use of curriculum resource material.
Textbooks are an integral part of the resources for curriculum implementation. In recent times the publications of text books have improved considerably with regard to pupil’s learning and teacher development – texts are now prepared with the teaching activity in mind. Textbooks contain knowledge, explanation and exercises essential to the understanding of each subject.
In Guyana, serious attention has been given to the production and publication of local textbooks. Inputs have come from overseas publishing houses and UNESCO consultancies. Above all, the production of local texts have emphasized the local customs, culture and environment. In addition teachers have been involved in the selection, writing and testing of the material.
In this unit we consider different aspects of the management of textbooks including their selection, distribution and care. Within this framework, the durability and care of textbooks combine to give special importance to a policy of the Ministry of Education. This policy is a commitment to ease the pressure on parents and at the same time to remove some of the social and economic barriers to children’s learning.
Individual study time: 3 hours.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
¨ know how to select appropriate textbooks for pupils within the constraints of finance and governing policies
¨ know how to ensure that the school is properly stocked with appropriate textbooks
¨ create a fair system for the distribution of textbooks to all pupils
¨ establish procedures for the proper care of books.
Principles and constraints of textbook management
In an ideal world, all textbooks would be selected by specialists based on the books’ qualities and its use as a teaching and learning aid. However, in reality, this is not always the case as such resources are often scarce. Furthermore, the choice of textbook by and outside “expert” might limit the creativity of individual teachers. In addition, a number of practical issues will come into play. Some of the basic principles which should guide you in the management of textbooks in your school are likely to include the following:
The topics should be relevant to the curriculum.
Changes of standard textbooks should be restricted and spaced across a number of years.
A textbook should be either robust and have a long life expectancy, or be very cheap and be expected to last only the length of a course.
A workbook in which children write can only be used once and may be considered a luxury when resources are limited.
The choice, type and quantity of textbooks required is determined by the school's annual budget, pupil needs and curriculum requirements.
The value of textbooks must be appreciated by all who handle them.
Almost every school faces problems in ensuring the supply of sufficient textbooks of the right quality to all pupils. Some of the reasons why this is so include the following:
1. There are not enough funds to buy the textbooks needed. There is no guarantee that adequate funds will be provided in future years.
2. The chosen textbook is not available at the time and in the numbers required. Replacement copies cannot be easily found or purchased.
3. Within the school there might be insufficient expertise and knowledge to make a meaningful choice of textbook.
4. In some schools there is a lack of secure, weatherproof storage facilities.
5. Teachers are concerned that using books may damage them and they will be held accountable.
Qualities of a textbook
A textbook usually consists of text, index, diagrams, illustrations and exercises. The quality can range from a simple text with line drawings printed on inferior paper to a full colour glossy publication. The cost implications for the latter are considerable. However, we will need to be clear about how the text can support the required learning. Is it better, for example for learning material to be available to all children through a cheaper text than for it to be shared using a more expensive publication? This is partly the rationale behind Guyana’s production and publication of local textbooks.
We need to consider how important such content as diagrams, full colour photographs, illustrations and exercises are to pupils in a Grade One class in Mathematics or a Secondary CSEC class in Biology. Although the nature and level of content in a textbook is important, so is the design, and this must be matched to the level of the pupils, the subject and the teaching /learning style which is being encouraged.
Consider for a moment what you feel are the important features you would look for in a textbook in your own subject for the age range you are currently teaching.
Criteria for selection
If you are ever in the fortunate position of being able to choose a textbook as opposed to using existing ones or having textbooks chosen for you, you should consider some of the criteria you would use in their selection.
Some of the factors which you would probably have included in your selection included might be:
· suitability of the material for the age of pupil
· language level within the pupil's grasp
· good, clear, interesting expression
· cost within the school's budget
· content at the correct ability level and relevant to the course of study
· diagrams and illustrations appropriate to the pupil's experience
· good, usable index
· plentiful exercises: graded and relevant
· material is related to the cultural contexts of all the pupils and is free of bias.
Given that textbooks are used across international barriers and cover the experiences of a wide range of cultural practice, reflect for a moment on which of these you would consider to be the most important and would influence your choice most.
Practice with regard to the purchase of textbooks varies considerably. For example, subject specialists, after consultation, may compile a list of the required textbooks which each school must order. They may also be provided directly from the Book Distribution Unit (BDU) either on the recommendation of a specialist or as a donation from an NGO or another donor. Funds are made available for this purpose but the school can decide the number of textbooks and the supplier. In Guyana, some publishers are under contract to produce specific textbooks which are then supplied direct to schools. The National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) will also supply texts which are directly linked to the Curriculum Guides or Scope and Sequence Guides which they produce. Perhaps, in an ideal situation, all decisions about the selection of textbooks would be left to school heads and teachers who would understand their own local context and needs. However, for practical reasons and because there is an economy of scale, schools in Guyana are more likely to be provided with books that choose them themselves.
Textbooks may be classified in two types: Pupil books and Class sets.
Pupil textbooks: These are issued to each individual pupil who becomes responsible and accountable for them.
Class sets: These are issued to individual teachers to be given out when the teacher requires them for a specific lesson or part of a lesson, and are then collected in at the end of the lesson. The teacher is therefore responsible for the proper care of these books.
With the increasing cost of textbooks, often because of the quality of their production, the main reason for deciding whether a textbook should be ordered as a pupil book or as a class set is likely to be differences in cost. Hence, the reason why in Guyana, so many texts are directly produced and published by the Ministry of Education.
1. Explain why it may be less expensive for a school to buy class sets than textbooks for individual pupils.
2. Class sets have to be accessible to each pupil when required. Where should they be stored to enable this to be possible?
3. How many books should there be in a class set? Check your answer because it may not be the same number as the number of pupils in the class.
4. Under what circumstances might you have fewer books in a set than number of pupils in the class, and under what circumstances more?
Using class sets can be cheaper because one set of books can be used several times with different classes. Thus the ratio of pupils to books may be 3:1, instead of 1:1. If the system of class sets of textbooks is used, then the teachers must be trained as to how to operate it effectively as much time and effort may be wasted. The sets must be stored in the classrooms where they are needed. If one book is shared between two pupils then only half sets need be purchased, but if there are several classes and clashes in the timetable then more than one set may be required.
The question of cost may be critical, but it is also important to think about cost effectiveness. If textbooks are only available in class, then how do pupils have time to read them at leisure in order to really get to know a book, or have access to them when they have homework to do? Class sets may reduce immediate costs, but we also need to know what effect this option may have on levels of pupil attainment.
Think for a moment about how long textbooks used in your school last for. Consider the main factors which determine the life of a textbook.
The life of a textbook varies a lot. One of the key factors is who is looking after a book. A well bound book belonging to a serious pupil is likely to last much longer than a poorly bound book of a careless pupil who feels no responsibility for it, nor is held accountable by the school or by his parents. Other factors are changes that are made in the curriculum or the arrival of a new teacher who has his / her own preferences. When resources are scarce then clear policies are required within each school which are then implemented effectively. A considerable factor in the non-use of textbooks which are available in schools is the concern of the teacher about being held accountable for their safety. This is an anomaly because unless the books are used they cannot be effective as a learning tool. Whereas teachers must be held accountable, they have to be confident enough to realize that they will not be penalized for that which is beyond their control.
This is probably best encapsulate in the following quotation from the Introduction of a series of books produced for the children of the North Rupununi District of Guyana.
“We urge children and teachers to keep them off the shelves and firmly placed in the hands of pupils. Books are not ornaments and these particular books are to be read and re-read, used and re-used and put into practice by all of us who get the chance to read……….”
Vanda Radzik (Community Development Fellow, Iwokrama) referring to the Lolita and Maria series by Liz Schuster.
Local production of textbooks
1. What proportion of the textbooks used in your school are locally written and produced?
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of locally produced textbooks?
Locally produced textbooks should be purchased wherever possible. Local authors are most likely to know both the curriculum and the needs of the children, and local publishers may design and print books in the way which is most appropriate for the market. Refer to your Study Guide to see information on book production in Guyana.
A teacher has reported to the deputy head that a pupil has not handed in a homework assignment. This is her third offence. On investigating the case the deputy head finds that almost half the class is without textbooks. He then reports this situation to the head.
(1) Who may be responsible for this situation and why? Is it the pupil, the teacher, the head, the parents, the Ministry of Education, nobody or everyone?
(2) What steps could you take to alleviate the situation?
It may not be appropriate to spend much time blaming people. If we look at the situation more positively as a challenge rather than a problem, then we may see that each of these people may have a contribution to make to alleviate the situation. The lesson of this case should be that the quality of learning by pupils and their levels of achievement is closely related to the quality, availability and use of textbooks, and thus the quality of textbook management by the school head.
The annual order of textbooks has just been delivered at your school. You arrange the issue of textbooks to the various subject department heads, who in turn issue them to class teachers who issue them to the pupils.
Check what you and your staff do in each of the following areas.
1. How are the books identified, so that one copy can be distinguished from another?
2. There is another school in the locality. How is it possible to identify to which school the books belong?
3. What steps are taken when a pupil wantonly damages a book? Are the nature and level of action related to the degree of damage?
4. What happens when a pupil loses a book?
5. Whose responsibility is it to check, and how often, on books issued to pupils and teachers?
6. Whose responsibility is it to:
report lost books to the head?
charge for lost books?
store surplus textbooks?
7. What happens to textbooks which are truly surplus, redundant and no longer of value to the school?
8. Design a book issue form for the pupil. Remember to leave space for the pupil's signature.
CommentsYou may have discovered that what would be considered to be good practice may be very different from the actual practice in your school.
All textbooks must be identified by a unique number which is clearly marked on the book and cannot be removed. Often this number will also be represented on a page number. E.g. Book number 20 would be marked on page 20. This is an additional way of ensuring that book numbering is not tampered with. All books should bear the school stamp in a prominent place to identify them from other schools.
Teachers and pupils must be held accountable at all levels and, where they have beem found to be negligent, there must be consequences. Children and their parents must pay for lost or damaged books. It is the responsibility of the teacher who iussues the books to check them on a regular basis and to ensure their safe return.
Reporting and charging for lost books and the storage of surplus books will be a matter for individual schools to decide. However, accountability must be maintained at all levels at all times. When books are no longer of use to the school, they may be written-off with the permission of the Headteacher who will try to find a use for them elsewhere, perhaps in another institution.
The care of textbooks
The life of any book will be extended if it is properly looked after. Consider this case:
A carton of new books had arrived at the school for the library. The teacher in charge of the library was determined that pupils should be introduced to these books and learn to respect them and treat them properly. She asked permission of the head and then visited each class to give a talk on the books and their contents. In one class she selected a book, and opened it in front of the class, only to find that because the binding was stiff the book would not remain open. She took the book and bent it backwards, there was a loud 'crack' ‑ the spine of the book had broken...
What should the teacher do next?
Report the matter immediately to the head?
Pretend nothing has happened and carry on?
Say she has broken the book deliberately to show the pupils how easy it is to maltreat books?
Explain to the pupils what has happened and why; that this thoughtless action will cost her money because the book must be replaced otherwise the pupils will be deprived?
Clearly the teacher has to set an example and so the last option is the best. Always remember care reduces costs.
Think for a moment about the best ways of caring for books when they are in storage, when they are being transported and when they are in use.
Do you think pupils should be allowed to write in books, mark pages or underline words?
The availability, quality and effective use of textbooks are some of the important factors affecting the quality of learning in a school. Textbooks support the curriculum by reinforcing and extending the work of teachers; thus good textbooks can lead to better teaching and effective learning. The growth and development of the publication of textbooks provide for closer relations to curriculum choices and teacher development in the use of subject materials. It must be realised how important it is to have a system of text-book management within your school in order to maximise this important resource and achieve higher levels of pupil attainment.
Libraries, media and low cost teaching aids are all ways of enhancing the learning environment in schools. This unit is very important, in the context of improving pupil performance and making schooling worthwhile and beneficial to the growth and development of both the individual student and the nation as a whole. In Guyana, at this point in time, many educators are complaining of the poor reading ability of a large section of a school population.
Libraries, media and low cost teaching aids combine to support, in its widest sense, classroom teaching. Libraries offer opportunity to develop life long reading habits and skills, which will support self-development and thereby higher levels of attainment and achievement of pupils. Media and use of media in school is the way forward in view of the technological revolution that is spreading across the globe. A learning and teaching aid is the use of any object to promote good teaching and therefore better schools. In this unit you will consider why libraries, media and such aids should be given priority if you wish to improve the quality of learning by pupils in your school.
Individual study time: 3 hours
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
¨ be more aware of the ways in which a school library, the media and low cost teaching aids can enhance the learning of pupils
¨ understand the implications of the growing use of computers in schools
¨ promote the use of school library facilities and develop good reading habits amongst the pupils
¨ encourage teachers to produce low cost teaching aids, and see that they have the means to do so
¨ develop the skills in teachers of identifying, and taking advantage of, usable teaching resources in and from the local environment
¨ explore ways of expanding and improving library resources
¨ appreciate the need to involve the community in school library activities.
Importance of library, media and low cost teaching aids and constraints
Consider for a moment why a school library, media and low cost teaching aids are important for enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in schools.
What do you think are some of the constraints you face in providing them in your school.
Firstly, it is important to point out that, of course, not all schools have libraries and those that do may have a very old book stock. Some schools will have chosen to use their books in the classroom rather than collecting them all in one place. Other schools will only have access to a collection of books through a public local library, the National Libraries in Linden and Georgetown or the Regional Resource Centre if it exists.
In the narrowest sense a school library offers children an additional choice of reading material with a variety of reading levels and topics; in the broader context, through instructed and controlled use of the library, they are encouraged to develop lifelong reading habits and skills which will support their own self‑development.
A library is mainly a collection of books but can also include non‑book materials such as video and audio cassettes, DVDs, CDs (e.g. Interactive Radio Instruction – IRI materials), computers and software, magazines, newspapers display and resource material.
A school library does not have to be a purpose built building; it can consist of an adapted classroom or series of boxes containing books kept by different classroom teachers. The main purpose is that pupils have access to books and related materials which will encourage individual reading, advance knowledge and stimulate the imagination.
This is a popular term for mass communication involving the press, radio and television. This unit does not deal with the structured and planned use of the media for education in the sense of school radio broadcasts, television programmes or professional journals, but rather covers the use of the media as a resource for school based or individual initiatives.
However, Guyana is advanced in its radio broadcasts for schools for younger children and television tuition for CSEC students especially in English and Maths.
Low cost teaching aids
Low cost teaching aids are attractive if there is little or no cost and they aid the teacher. Later in this unit we will consider such questions as: What are they? Are they a substitute for higher cost, professionally made and commercially sold teaching aids? Can a home‑made teaching aid be superior to the commercial article, and if so, in what ways? We need to remember that a teaching aid is the use of any object, manufactured, homemade or natural, which is used to promote good teaching and learning.
Some of the reasons why these resources should be given priority include the following:
A head and the teachers should be creative and should not become over dependent on outside resources.
Through the use of resources, lifelong pupil attitudes, skills and responsibilities in terms of creativity, innovation and self‑reliance can be developed.
Teaching /learning can become more positive, interesting, varied, and therefore more effective, through the frequent and selective use of resources.
Cost is always a factor in education, but it does not always have to be the factor which determines the quality of teaching.
Some of the constraints which hinder the provision and uses of resources include the following:
1. Financial provision is usually too low to buy sufficient library books initially, or on a regular basis. Teachers may lack training, creativity and work capacity and may therefore be unable to explore, experiment with, develop and use low cost teaching aids.
2. The media, in a usable form, sometimes does not reach the locality of the school. For example, radio instruction may not be a possibility in hinterland areas and CDs and players need to be provided as a replacement.
3. There may be limitations in the provision of space and storage facilities.
The school library has a significant role to play in the education of the pupil as a result of the emergence of multi‑media education and resource based learning. Pupil‑centered education takes into account an individual's interests and abilities and facilitates much greater participation, allowing the pupil to progress at his or her own pace. The library should be a centre for active learning not simply a repository of books and resource materials. It may also be seen as a centre for the production and storage of materials including low cost teaching aids.
A school library is for pupil use, during and after the school day, to encourage an enjoyment of reading and to supplement specific subject areas being taught in the curriculum. Not only do pupils have to be trained in the use of the library but also in the care and use of books and other reading materials.
In this increasingly technological world, children should have access where possible to learning materials accessed through computers. There are an increasing number of computer programs designed to assist children in their learning of every aspect of the curriculum. The internet grows day by day and its use in schools fortunate enough to have this resource is becoming primary to the learning experience. However, achieving internet access and the computer hardware to support it can be a serious challenge in financial terms to many schools in Guyana. On the other hand, the internet is becoming an essential learning and research tool throughout the world and it is essential that headteachers make every effort to provide it for their students where possible. Often this is done through past students association and connections with NGOs.
Look at the checklist below and indicate which relate most to practice in your school. If you do not have a library, consider what you would do if you were in a school with one.
Checklist for use of the library
1. Which of these describes how you timetable library use during the day?
¨ a voluntary arrangement with teachers making bookings according to their needs
¨ on the main timetable as a permanent feature
¨ allocating subject departments certain specific times
¨ other arrangements
2. If you agree that the school library should be open for pupils after school, who amongst the following should administer the library after school?
¨ the teacher responsible for the library
¨ library prefects working under the supervision of a member of the school administrative staff
¨ someone else
3. Do you limit access and the times of access to pupils? If so, what criteria do you use? For example, do you limit access to the library to one class or one year group at a time?
4. Books are expensive and security can be a major concern. What do you do
· protecting your stock?
· allowing pupils to carry textbooks into the library?
· making your borrowing system secure ‑ what system of borrowing do you use?
5. If a pupil loses a book, what action do you take?
6. If a pupil damages a book, what action do you take?
7. The library supports the curriculum. Remember if a teacher knows what reading material is in the school library and is involved in ordering new books, then the project method of teaching with groups of pupils preparing material to present on a certain topic encourages library usage. However, there must be material available in the library and the pupils must have access to it at the time when they need it.
How do you decide on what books to order? Do you:
¨ allow the librarian to decide on her own?
¨ form a committee of subject heads to decide?
¨ divide the available funds using a set formula?
¨ target different subjects each year?
¨ follow some other scheme?
8. Do you subscribe to the national press and international news media? Do you feel this is of value?
9. To have a viable library you need direct teacher involvement. How do you involve teachers? What training do you provide them with?
10. Each library should have a reference section but often reference books are the most expensive. What sort of reference books should a school library have? What is the ratio of seating spaces to the total number of pupils in the study area within the library?
11. The appearance of the library should help to create an environment conducive to work, including display boards, furniture arrangements and sign boards. How well would you rate the quality of the library environment in your school?
12. In the rural areas the school may become the centre of the cultural life of the village. In this situation how can a school library also be a community library? For example, what adjustments will have to be made to library routines, procedures, the book stock and book distribution system?
Taking into account the twelve areas covered above, consider whether you have up‑to‑date rules for library usage and guidelines for its management in your school?
Your answers to these twelve sets of questions will demonstrate the extent to which you have been able to develop a positive management strategy towards the provision, organisation and operation of your school library. Sometimes libraries appear rather isolated from the mainstream of learning in classrooms, and neglected by the school head as an area over which he or she has little active authority Your answers should provide you with ideas about what could be done to improve the library provision in your school.
The library in the classroom
Many nursery and primary schools have no library room; instead each teacher builds his or her own library in boxes or shelves in the classroom. Ideally such boxes should contain 40 to 60 books carefully selected for language and content, and with 40 pupils it is necessary for the teacher to keep a careful record of books issued and books read.
1. Design a book issue/return record sheet which could be used with a class library.
2. Suggest three ways in which it would be possible for a teacher to check whether a pupil has read a book or not.
3. A problem with book boxes is that pupils have access to only a small number of books which limits the choice of abler pupils. How would you suggest this problem could be overcome?
A simple form should be kept with each book with the library box, so that the name of each pupil may be recorded. It is important to check all the time how much and how well the pupils are reading. This can be done by spending time with them as they read, by asking them questions about a book when they have finished it and by asking them to write something about the contents (about the story if the book is a novel). The books should be graded using a simple colour code, perhaps with three colours, to indicate levels of language and content, and this will enable both the more able and less able pupils to choose books they can manage.
Expanding a school's library service
Most school libraries have a limited stock. Heads of schools continually face the problem of renewal, updating and replacement with very little money provided for this purpose, and they will need to seek other ways of expanding their library service. Here is a list of suggestions:
Contact nearby schools to set up a book exchange service.
Ask for assistance from the National Library Service.
Ask the PTA to raise funds for the purchase of books and resources.
Seek help from the Past Students' Association.
Seek donor assistance (see Unit 8 'Finding Financial Resources').
Consider whether any or all of these suggestions would help in your own school situation
Supporting the school library as an active centre of learning is something which may well interest individuals and groups outside the school. Launching an appeal for funds by the school will bring to their attention an area where they can help. They should be encouraged to supply funds, rather than books, since it is very unlikely they will know your needs. Bad books are no better than no books. If every school looked to donor agencies or national bodies for help they would be overwhelmed, however, there is no harm in asking On the other hand your most reliable source of funds is likely to be from those who are closer to your school.
A parent in your school is forever encouraging his child to read and improve her academic performance but is never seen to be reading anything himself. Another parent visits the school library on occasions to browse through magazines and newspapers and periodically checks out a book to read at home.
Of the two parents which is the better model for their child and why?
How can parents provide a good model for their children to follow?
How can you and your staff help parents to help their children?
It has been noted that successful pupils more often come from homes where there are books to read and where the parents demonstrate their own interest in the written word. The more adults, including parents, teachers and school heads, can provide role models the more children will be encouraged to read.
The quality of a school library can be quite easily measured in a number of different ways. One such Performance Indicator is the rate at which the pupils borrow books. Identify five other key indicators through which you would be able to determine how well your policies on the school library are doing.
The borrowing rate per pupil is perhaps the best indicator of the quality of a school library, but there are many others. The expenditure per pupil per year gives a clear guide as to how well the library is being maintained and developed. The number of books per pupil is another good indicator, though if old and out‑of‑date books are not weeded out then the rate may be inflated. The rate of accession of new books and of weeding out old stock will provide an indication of the way the collection is being maintained. Old stock should be given away, not destroyed. Security is often a problem in schools and so the loss rate provides a quality indicator, though this can only be done if a full stock‑taking exercise is regularly carried out. Two other indicators are the length of time the library is open each week and the seating capacity to allow individual study in the library.
Media and low cost teaching aids
Through newspapers, magazines and journals pupils are kept fully informed on national and international current events. Where possible, the library should stock a selection of daily, weekly and monthly publications.
1. What criteria do you think you should use for the selection of newspapers magazines and journals?
2. How would you ensure that a cross‑section of political viewpoints is represented.?
3. Can you demonstrate how well you are able to obtain free materials which are available from national and international agencies, and from the private sector?
4. How would you use these materials once they are no longer needed in the library?
5. How would you teach your pupils to differentiate between fact and opinion?
In Guyana there is quite a range of newspapers, magazines and journals available or to purchase. As these can be expensive, it is important to ensure that you make a careful selection. Factors such as cost, regular availability and appropriateness of the contents to the learning needs of your pupils, need to be considered. Materials of these types are often promoting particular political viewpoints, and so it is important to ensure that a cross‑section of views are represented, and that you provide opportunities, for example, in Social Studies, language teaching or History, to teach pupils how to separate out fact from opinion and to select what they read.
Library materials should be actively and positively used by both pupils and teachers. In using material of this nature in the classroom pupils are made aware of the value of such sources in forming or influencing opinion and conveying up‑to‑date information and adding to knowledge acquired through textbooks.
Some embassies, NGOs, agencies such as UNESCO, banks and commercial organisations distribute newsletters and information sheets at no cost. Posters and calendars can be obtained from publishers, school suppliers and other companies. Schools should take advantage of these offers ‑ if only to use the illustrations, update data and for display purposes.
Certain broadcasts can be of value, for example, speeches on historic occasions, budget speeches, radio and TV plays and debates on environmental matters. By taping such broadcasts, editing them for classroom usage, and inserting them at the appropriate point in the curriculum, a valuable resource can be built up for the school. The art teacher can use magazine pictures for collages and newspaper for papier mâché work. The teacher of English can use 'headlines', serious articles and crossword puzzles.
Production of teaching aids
Low cost teaching aids are attractive to all heads who run their schools on a small budget. Obviously cost is no longer a factor and the teachers are using teaching aids other than the chalkboard. Very often in fact there is no cost at all in that many teaching aids can be made from scrap items such as empty matchboxes, cardboard cylinder interiors of toilet rolls, bottle tops, rubber bands, pieces of wire and the reverse sides of discarded posters
Think for a moment about what low cost or no cost teaching aids your teachers should be using in their classrooms in Art and Craft; Science and Mathematics.
In the widest possible sense the entire local environment can be regarded as the principal source area for such teaching aids, not just in the search for usable materials, but in locating and identifying local seasonal phenomena which may reinforce concepts taught in the classroom. For instance, after a heavy rainstorm ground with no vegetation cover shows many examples of drainage features to be found in river systems, as well as erosion mechanisms and patterns. A Geography /Social Studies teacher can take advantage of this phenomenon by taking groups of pupils to observe, record their findings.
Reflect on how the local environment of a school can be used positively in a rural setting (for
example, collecting seeds for a lesson) and in an urban setting (for example, collecting cans for
The extent to which low cost or no cost teaching aids are used in a school is indicative of the commitment and quality of the teachers. You may readily identify creative teachers, who are prepared to take extra trouble for the sake of their pupils. Obviously teachers of this calibre are valuable in any school.
In the school context, the ‘library’ has become increasingly important in the enrichment of learning and teaching in the classroom. In some instances, the storage and retrieval facilities have been incorporated into the facets of a library. This unit has reinforced the importance of the library by emphasizing the following features:
(a) management strategies for provision, organization and operation of your school library;
(b) benefits of school libraries in terms of
¨ research skills;
¨ writing skills;
¨ valuing books;
¨ increased knowledge;
¨ improved ability to spell
(c) the characteristics of a good library.
The school head should involve the local community in library development. Supporting the school library as an active centre of learning is an activity which can involve individuals and Non Government Organizations (NGOs) outside of the school. Organisations such as Lions and Rotary Clubs and other social groups can assist in this venture.
Parents are also useful allies in this activity. The media and teaching aids are useful implements for reinforcing learning and teaching skills. Through magazines and newspapers, pupils can be informed about current events. In its widest sense, the local environment can be regarded as a principal source for teaching aids. Libraries, media and teaching aids and their effective use combine to improve the quality of the learning activity in the classroom and thereby improve the quality of education provided in the community.