Two teachers per class spells success at Grampian Primary School in Derby
A GROUND-BREAKING idea to put two teachers in every classroom at a Derby primary school has seen an astonishing rise in test results.
Grampian Primary School's level four SATs results for 11-year-olds have shot up from a pass rate of 27% in 2009 to 93% in 2012 and now several schools across the country are looking to copy the double teacher system.
The progress made by pupils aged seven to 11 – the equivalent of 20 months' extra learning, according to Government value-added statistics – puts the school in the top 2% most improved in the country.
The head teacher, Chris Perkins, who has used his background as a maths graduate to help organise finance for the scheme, is delighted at its success.
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Instead of cutting class sizes, and having to find two classrooms, both teachers now operate in the same classroom.
Mr Perkins believes his pupils, who generally start the school with low levels of achievement, have developed a new attitude to learning.
He said: "Our principle is that children don't leave school at the end of the day without understanding what they have been taught.
"Both teachers are in the classroom and one of them works with the children in the mornings on basic skills.
"The other is available to ensure everyone is able to access what they have been taught by picking up on those who haven't grasped it originally, by working with them in the afternoons.
"It is a system that has to have the right people working in it and the chemistry between the two teachers has to work well as they are working as a team."
Introducing the new system to the Sinfin school was not easy, as it involved taking existing teaching assistants out of the classrooms and replacing them with five new teachers. This resulted in opposition from unions, although the teaching assistants are now working with the foundation-stage children.
Mr Perkins said: "We trialled the idea in one class in late 2009 to begin with and it showed definite improvements in learning almost immediately. So we decided to swap eight support teaching assistants for five teachers, which gives us roughly a ratio of one teacher for each ten pupils."
Mr Perkins, who joined the school in 2003, is frequently asked how the school can afford to pay for additional teachers from its funds.
He said: " I am very grateful that I took a banking and finance degree, which has stood me in good stead for sorting out school finances. We have a well-balanced budget and have run our own meals and catering service for many years. We recently became an academy and so we are receiving all the money we are entitled to without it being top-sliced for services we don't have by the local authority."
At least three other schools in the city are looking at following the new system.
WHAT THE GRAMPIAN PUPILS HAVE TO SAY...
Simie Kang, aged ten: "We have two teachers and they have lots of time to help us with our learning. I have learned lots and think I am ready for secondary school."
Bradley Smallman, 11, said: "Both our teachers make learning fun. If we don't understand they make sure we know it and build it up. They have more time now to help us."
Aaron Cartledge, nine: "I like having two teachers because you can get help when you need it. They are always there to help you and we can work independently as well."
Rosie Jones, ten: "The teachers teach well. I've made lots of progress. I like having two teachers because they can go between groups and give us more help. I love to come to school."
Samuel Broncek, nine: "Our teachers are kind and helpful and they teach you well. I like two teachers as they have more time to listen to us. I like coming to school and I have learnt a lot."
Jas Kang, nine: "Our school is a nice place and I love being here. I don't want to leave! We get the help we need and my progress is good, especially in maths."
Thandiwe Phiri, eight: "I like my class with two teachers because I can get lots of help.
Ekhoch Khurelee, eight: "I am learning well and am happy to come to school. We are also caring and do lots of fund-raising for charity."