Education Focus: COMING UP TRUMPS!; TEACHERS Were Offered Special Research Grants Worth Up to Pounds 3,000 Each for the First Time This Year. Education Correspondent Margaret O'Reilly Has Been Finding out How Two of Them Spent the Money

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), June 27, 2002 | Go to article overview

Education Focus: COMING UP TRUMPS!; TEACHERS Were Offered Special Research Grants Worth Up to Pounds 3,000 Each for the First Time This Year. Education Correspondent Margaret O'Reilly Has Been Finding out How Two of Them Spent the Money


Byline: Margaret O'Reilly

THUMBELINA the Thinker and the Thinking Elephant have helped transform lessons for primary pupils.

The soft toys have turned pupils at Viriamu Jones Primary School, Mynachdy, Cardiff, into infant philosophers.

The characters have been introduced into lessons in an effort to improve youngsters'thinking and listening skills and teachers have noticed a real difference.

Pupils have learned to associate the toys with tasks that require skills such as listening to each other and to their teachers, taking it in turns to talk and thinking about whether they agree or disagree with each other.

Now when Thumbelina or the elephant are in class, they know it is time to concentrate.

The project is the work of Viriamu Jones' headteacher Ros Goldman and infant teacher Vicki Creedon, who each received pounds 2,600 professional development grants from the General Teaching Council for Wales.

The grants were awarded for the first time last year and 150 teachers, three times as many as expected, applied for research grants.

A further 1,300 received funding for smallerprojects such as exchange visits to schools abroad.

The aim of the scheme, funded by the National Assembly, is to give individual teachers more control over their own professional development and it will be extended this year to help up to 4,000 teachers.

The Viriamu Jones teachers were encouraged to take part by their union, the NUT, who provided a mentor to help them through the project. The funding also paid for supply teachers to cover their classes when they were taking part in training sessions or visiting a thinking schools' conference. It also covered books and travel expenses.

Mrs Goldman said: ``Young children are often keen to talk but are not used to taking it in turns or listening to others. We wanted to devise a way of developing those skills.''

Miss Creedon said: ``I wanted to develop thinking skills, particularly in science, encouraging them to say if they agreed or disagreed with something and why. ``I introduced Thumbelina Thinker to class and the children loved her. We had a brainstorming session about what made a good thinker.

``From then on when Thumbelina was in the circle, the children knew it was a thinking activity. …

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Education Focus: COMING UP TRUMPS!; TEACHERS Were Offered Special Research Grants Worth Up to Pounds 3,000 Each for the First Time This Year. Education Correspondent Margaret O'Reilly Has Been Finding out How Two of Them Spent the Money
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