Gosforth Central Middle School, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Gosforth Central Middle School is situated to the north of Newcastle city centre. It is larger than most middle schools. Most students are of white British origin, although a growing number come from minority ethnic backgrounds. The school is one of three middle schools serving an area of Newcastle where a high proportion of students live in privately owned homes. A fifth of students come from the wider area and the school is oversubscribed. The school occupies new purpose-built accommodation. It is a Healthy Schools and Sports Mark Gold award holder.
Two years ago we took part in the RECME project where we used collaborative practice, supported by The Centre of Innovation in Mathematics Teaching (CIMT) at Plymouth University to develop our whole class interactive teaching. This also involved visiting a University Practice School in Hungary where we learnt how groups of teachers worked together to plan, observe and evaluate their lessons.
We decided to research different multiplication methods with Year 5 classes. A group of teachers came together before Christmas to plan a lesson and it was then delivered by the mathematics co-ordinator. His colleagues observed and then evaluated the lesson and gave feedback at their KS2 half-termly mathematics meeting. The cycle was repeated a second time in the summer term.
In September a lesson study project was established in a group of primary and secondary schools which volunteered to be part of the development. As a result, one of the large partner secondary schools has extended the lesson study model of CPD to other subject areas.
Greater trust has been engendered at Gosforth Central Middle school as we have had the opportunity to see each other teach in a non-performance management setting.
Eight schools in the North East are actively using lesson study in their schools to share good practice and improve the quality of teaching and learning.
What we have learnt
Lesson study needs a very tight focus from the start. The overarching aim needs to be clearly agreed, stated and focused on by the teachers when planning and teaching the lessons.
Feedback from the lesson needs to take place immediately and having at least two other teachers observing is the minimum advised in order to ensure the evaluation is clear and accurate.
Lesson study across schools can be problematic and many external factors influence its success such as staff turnover.
Lesson study needs to be carried out at least once a term if it is going to be used as a mechanism for change. Every school needs a member of staff who is prepared to start the cycle and commit time and energy to its success.
Quotations from teachers
“I did not realise how simple but effective lesson study could be for developing good teaching and learning in my school.”
Reflections on the lesson study process including how close we feel the process was to the Japanese lesson study model
The Japanese style of teaching mathematics is through setting a specific problem and encouraging children to develop their mathematical skills to tackle this problem. This is unlikely to be the case in England. Hence the focus of lesson study is different. Lesson study in Japan also has much more of a research element and involves working with either a University Practice School or a “Knowledgeable Other”.
Top tips for other schools that wish to develop lesson study
- Never use lesson study as a vehicle to deliver performance management
- Have the support of all members of your department before you start the lesson study process
- Read case studies on the lesson study model before starting your cycle.