Helping Schools Succeed is improving instruction for more than 8,700 pupils of government primary schools by educating their teachers

The Helping Schools Succeed project has stepped into the tenth academic year, which is the first year under the leadership of its new director, Mrs Eva Lokšová. The 2018/19 school year will be marked by additional qualitative changes at the 22 public primary schools involved in the project. More than 800 teachers and more than 8,700 pupils will receive pedagogical and financial support this year. The project’s key issues include the development of reading and of reading and critical literacy, and formative assessment. The family foundation of Mrs Renáta Kellnerová and Mr Petr Kellner initiated the Helping Schools Succeed project and has been financing it since 2009.

For the next ten months, Helping Schools Succeed will continue to support the 22 participating schools across the Czech Republic. More than 800 teachers will enjoy professional support provided by project consultants and mentors and receive education in another form. These teachers can then improve education for 8,700 pupils of public primary schools. Additional expansion to include public primary schools in the Karlovy Vary Region, the Zlín Region, the Hradec Králové Region, and the Vysočina Region is being planned for the 2019/20 school year.
The main pillars for the current school year continue to include the development of reading, and reading and critical literacy together with formative assessment. Professional experience sharing amongst teachers will also continue; 755 teachers have been involved over the last four years. “Teachers regard their experience sharing as one of the most effective tools for their continued education,” adds Eva Lokšová, Director, Pomáháme školám k úspěchu o.p.s.

The specific objectives of Helping Schools Succeed for 2018/19 include the following:

  • Intensive work with the project schools; i.e., 22 schools, a total of 800 teachers, and more than 8,700 pupils;

  • Develop the inquiry cycle of teacher professional learning: focus on identifying the ways and means to help to enhance pupils’ joy of learning and attainments at the primary schools involved;

  • Promote reading and critical literacy: meetings on subject-specific and experiential reading; meetings of regional groups of schools;

  • Formative assessment of pupils: a working group is preparing a sharing scheme for teachers from the involved schools and will continue developing the methodology and assessment criteria.

The Helping Schools Succeed team will also continue issuing the Critical Literacy journal (in the form of an e-zine and also in printed form once a year) and distributing video textbooks on its YouTube channel. Team members are also planning to share experience through MAP (Local Action Plan for Education) and MAS (Local Action Groups).

The experience of Teaching Inspiration Centres absorbed by surrounding schools in their practice and also by students
The project schools are also sharing their experience gained over the five-year period with their surroundings. At present, the Teaching Inspiration Centres include the Kunratice primary school in Prague, the Mendelova primary school and kindergarten in Karviná, the Zdice primary school, and the Horka nad Moravou primary school. “Not only teachers from the nearby schools but also students of the Faculty of Education in Olomouc like to visit the Teaching Inspiration Centre in Horka nad Moravou for new ideas and experience,” Eva Lokšová describes the cooperation at the regional level, adding that the Faculty of Education students visit classes in action, while the school also shares with them its experience with reading workshops, tandem teaching, and mathematics teaching using Professor Hejný’s method.

For schools and other interested people nearby, the Zdice school has organised a small-scale Festival of Teaching Inspiration and also demonstrations of reading workshops and maths teaching. “Through the project schools we already now radiate our knowledge and experience into their surroundings, which we believe is a major step forward. And we should not omit to mention the practical experience gained by students of education faculties thanks to visiting our classes,” concludes Eva Lokšová, adding that it is exactly thanks to Helping Schools Succeed that graduates who originally were not inclined to take the teaching path have in fact already joined schools to teach there.

Reading literacy continues to play the primary role
The project’s reading team organised five reading meetings for the project schools in the last academic year. A total of 160 participants focused on experiential (for example, reading workshops) as well as subject-specific (inclusion of reading in various subjects) reading and on writing. “During such meetings, teachers join forces to identify the ways to promote the reading and writing literacy of pupils, they share their positive experience from teaching, and they also tackle the issues that are too challenging in practice for smaller, isolated schools,” clarifies the project director whose team has helped schools to, for example, set up their own libraries for which their pupils’ parents have bought books based on a published list. Some schools have also extended reading and reading comprehension into classes at the second level of primary schools, where pupils were reading in, say, chemistry, biology and history classes.


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