Can Doug Lemov’s pedagogy fix coastal schools?

Doug Lemov paces around the auditorium at Folkestone Academy in Kent, impeccably dressed in a cream jacket, chinos and rimless glasses. Tes reports

The author of Teach Like a Champion is one of the most influential writers on pedagogy in the world. Today he’s delivering a training session to teachers at Turner Free School – a new school which is due to open its doors in Folkestone in September.  

Like many coastal towns, Folkestone has a history of educational underperformance. In 2017 Folkestone Academy’s Progress 8 score was -0.22, compared with a national average of -00.03. Just 18 per cent of pupils achieved a grade 5 or better in GCSE English and maths, compared with 42 per cent nationally.

In Teach Like a Champion and its sequel, Teach Like a Champion 2.0, Lemov taught teachers to use finely honed techniques to maintain order in the classroom and maximise learning outcomes.

For someone familiar with his work, those techniques are immediately apparent as he delivers his own training. Firstly, there’s his pacing around the room. Rather than staying fixed at the front of the classroom, Lemov encourages teachers to “circulate” among their pupils, ensuring every corner of the classroom remains attentive.

Then there’s the “cold-calling” – a technique whereby teachers select students to answer questions, rather than relying on the same people putting their hands up. After the Turner Free School teachers been shown a video on how to use non-verbal interventions, Lemov’s fellow trainer, Colleen Driggs, “cold calls” one of them: “What did you find effective about those non-verbal interventions? Mike, would you mind starting us off, please?”

Turner Schools’ chief executive, Jo Saxton says that coastal towns face a very particular set of challenges. “Nationally, we know there’s a recruitment and retention issue in teaching – it is exacerbated out here.

Getting a world-renowned pedagogy expert like Lemov to deliver training in Folkestone is part of a wider effort to change perceptions about the teaching opportunities available in such towns. “You don’t have to be in the big cities to get fantastic CPD,” Saxton says.

Unfortunately, recruitment is not the only challenge which coastal schools face. Saxton says it’s just one facet of a wider issue around “isolation”. She points out that Kent has the highest exclusions from school for racist abuse – even though “you can see France on a clear day”.

Many coastal towns were badly hit by cheap air travel decimating demand for British seaside holidays, so poverty is another problem. Over a third of pupils at Folkestone Academy are classed as disadvantaged. “A large number of the families that we served were failed in education themselves,” says Saxton. “It will take time for the community to recognise and trust that we are a force for good in their lives and that having high expectations for young people is a good thing.”

Read more about Doug Lemov’s ideas in the full article Can Doug Lemov’s pedagogy fix coastal schools?

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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