Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Schools Set to Lecture Academics in How to Teach: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Schools Set to Lecture Academics in How to Teach: News

Article excerpt

Survey shows students prefer sixth-form teaching to university.

Universities are to be given considerable influence over school education with the announcement last week that they will play a key role in redesigning A levels.

But a new project being launched by an elite group of private schools suggests that when it comes to teaching quality, it is the universities that should be taking lessons.

After research showed that undergraduates thought they received better teaching while at school, the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) plans to send top-flight independent school teachers into universities to advise them on how to up their game.

Universities need to improve teaching techniques and assessment and provide more constructive feedback, according to the HMC, whose members include Eton College and Harrow.

HMC research shows that half of final-year undergraduates were more satisfied with the teaching they received during sixth form than the teaching they experienced at university.

The organisation is also concerned that lecturers, often recruited from abroad on the strength of their academic work, can lack knowledge about A levels and the educational context their students come from.

William Richardson, general secretary of the HMC, said that the advent of Pounds 9,000 tuition fees means that universities are under increasing pressure to provide good undergraduate teaching. "They have to satisfy students and their mothers, who go to the open days much more than they used to," he said.

Dr Richardson has written to 10 Russell Group and 1994 Group universities this month, inviting them to get involved in regional events where school teachers will be able to pass on their knowledge to lecturers of first- year undergraduates.

"The quality of undergraduate teaching has become much more important and we are saying that we can help, we have something to contribute," said Dr Richardson, former head of the School of Education at the University of Exeter.

"We have teachers with PhDs teaching in schools. The aim is that students feel that teaching from age 17 to 21 is equally good."

So far, four universities have agreed to participate, although it is hoped that up to 15 universities will take part in the longer term. Dozens of schools are expected to provide teachers to help train the academics.

The initiative comes just weeks after research by exam group Cambridge Assessment showed that six out of 10 academics staged catch-up lessons for first-years because students were not being prepared for higher education at school. …

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