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Long-term evaluation of Helping Schools Succeed project in publicly funded primary schools: eight out of ten teachers are proud of their profession

21. November 2019 The Helping Schools Succeed project is now in its tenth year of publicly funded primary schools. The long-term plan for improving educational standards and teachers’ professional development was initiated by the family foundation of Mrs Renáta Kellnerová and Mr Petr Kellner, which has contributed approximately CZK 37 million a year to the project over the last few years. According to a survey carried out in collaboration with experts from the Institute for Research and Development of Education at Charles University’s Faculty of Education, 91% of teachers from schools involved in the project are satisfied with their profession and 81% are proud of their profession. The survey confirmed that professional training for teachers is more effective when implemented directly in schools; the result is greater motivation and self-confidence among teachers.

The Helping Schools Succeed project brings together 23 schools from all over the Czech Republic. Support is thus provided to 860 teachers and, through them, 9,500 pupils. Before the start of the project’s tenth year, 390 teachers responded to questions evaluating the project’s importance for the participating schools and their teachers and pupils. The survey was carried out in cooperation with experts from the Institute for Research and Development of Education of Charles University’s Faculty of Education and the results were compared with Czech teachers’ responses in the international TIMMS and TALIS surveys.
 
The Helping Schools Succeed project has produced demonstrable results in publicly funded schools over the long term, including greater motivation for teachers to pursue professional development, introduction of new teaching methods, positive transformation of relations within the teaching staff and close links between schools and parents. “The survey shows that the schools involved in the project provide significantly more opportunities for their teachers to play an active role in decision-making on school matters, and teachers also understand much more strongly that together they create an atmosphere of mutual support and cooperation in the school. This means that teachers at the project schools take responsibility for themselves, their pupils and the whole school more than teachers in other Czech schools, so that together they create an environment that leads to professional learning,” said Petra Holečková of Charles University’s Faculty of Education, who took part in evaluating the survey data.
 
The survey attracted responses from 390 of the 575 teachers who were approached, and 363 of them stated that the project had brought significant professional progress for them and made them better able to provide individualised teaching. Other benefits mentioned by the teachers in the survey included support for teaching consultants at schools where changes are being introduced and paired teaching, which Helping Schools Succeed was one of the first to introduce into the Czech education system. "I am at the beginning of my career and I think that the experience gained during two years at a school within the Helping Schools Succeed project has given me far more than two years at another school and my whole study programme combined," wrote one of the survey respondents.
 
Dissemination of systemic changes through regular experience sharing
The Helping Schools Succeed project provides an example of how systemic changes to teacher training can be successfully carried through to teaching practice. The knowledge and experience gained by schools and teachers participating in the project do not remain within a closed group: “We share the experience we have gained with the expert circles at conferences, and through the Kritická gramotnost [Critical Literacy] journal and articles published in specialist periodicals,” explains Hana Košťálová, Project Instructional Coach. She adds that open-door classes, sharing, and other events that the schools organise for neighbouring schools also aid the dissemination of examples of good practice from the project schools
 
Training teachers directly in schools leads to changes in teaching practices
The evaluation of experience from the project has shown that the professional training of teachers directly in schools is more effective than ad hoc external training workshops away from schools. This is also backed up by experience in other countries’ education systems, which have shown that this form of professional training leads to real changes in teaching practices, resulting in better learning outcomes for the children.
 
Lesson analysis and the collaborative sharing of experience results in changes to teaching being implemented more frequently and directly, leading to greater satisfaction among teachers. Satisfaction with their profession was reported by 95.1% of first-tier teachers from schools participating in the Helping Schools Succeed project and 92% of them plan on continuing their teaching careers for as long as they can. Eight out of ten teachers surveyed were proud of their profession; this is 14% more than reported in the Timms project, which was carried out among 1st tier primary school teachers.
 
The Helping Schools Succeed project reports the following main results in publicly funded primary schools:
  • a change in the school’s culture, with teaching that focuses on pupils’ needs and improved relationships and cooperation across the school;
  • mutual respect between teachers and between teachers and pupils;
  • greater opportunities for effective professional development for teachers;
  • greater cooperation with parents, between teachers and between schools;
  • progress in both teachers’ subjective awareness of their skills and in their self-confidence.
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