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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
What makes the ideal teacher
teacher and pupils
A good classroom atmosphere is important
Teachers in England are being told exactly what skills and knowledge they should have to be effective, in a report that sets out "the ideal teacher".

In classes run by effective teachers, pupils are clear about what they are doing and why they are doing it


It identifies three main overlapping factors within teachers' control that are said to influence pupil progress significantly: teaching skills, professional characteristics and "classroom climate".

The School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, called it "the first detailed analysis of the professional qualities that underpin effective teaching."

But teaching union leaders have criticised it as an expensive exercise in the obvious.

The 234-page report is the result of a 10-month detailed study of 172 teachers, plus a survey of 1,200, by consultants Hay McBer.

It will form the basis of a government consultation with the profession that will lead to new "teaching standards".

The teaching skills associated with outstanding primary teaching are high expectations, time and resource management, assessment and homework.

Those associated with outstanding secondary teaching are high expectations, planning and homework.

Pupils 'want to learn'

"Our lesson observations revealed that in classes run by effective teachers, pupils are clear about what they are doing and why they are doing it," says the report.

A good teacher . . . is kind, is generous, listens to you, encourages you, has faith in you

"They can see the links with their earlier learning and have some ideas about how it could be developed further. The pupils want to know more.

"They understand what is good about their work and how it can be improved.

"They feel secure in an interesting and challenging learning environment. And they support one another and know when and where to go for help."

The professional characteristics that are said to be important come under five "clusters": professionalism - meaning such things as being confident and creating trust - thinking, planning, leading and relating to others.

The three aspects of the atmosphere in a classroom which are particularly important to pupils' learning are "lack of disruption, encouragement to engage and high expectations".

"I hope teachers will find the descriptions a highly valuable tool for self evaluation and professional development," Ms Morris said.

Cost criticised

But Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The NASUWT could have told the government exactly the same at nil cost."

Is it worthwhile spending millions of pounds describing the same old truths in different, albeit trendier, language?

Union leader
He attacked the government for refusing to divulge the cost of the report.

Sources at the Department for Education say rumours that it cost 4m are a gross exaggeration, although the actual figure is "commercially sensitive".

"It is outrageous for tax payers to be denied the knowledge on how their money is being spent," Mr de Gruchy said.

"Is it worthwhile spending millions of pounds describing the same old truths in different, albeit trendier, language?"

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The results of this research will surprise no one."

An interim version of the report, issued in February, was used to devise the standards required of teachers applying to cross the new pay threshold onto a higher, performance-related salary scale.

What pupils say

The final version incorporates some rather simpler definitions of what makes a good teacher, from pupils aged 12 and 13:

They say a good teacher . . .
is kind
is generous
listens to you
encourages you
has faith in you
keeps confidences
likes teaching children
likes teaching their subject
takes time to explain things
helps you when you're stuck
tells you how you are doing
allows you to have your say
doesn't give up on you
cares for your opinion
makes you feel clever
treats people equally
stands up for you
makes allowances
tells the truth
is forgiving.

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See also:

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27 Jul 99 | Education
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