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close this bookCase Study Research - A Model of Best Practice at Loreto Day School, Sealdah, Calcutta - Occasional paper No.1 (DFID, 1998, 36 p.)
close this folder4. Best Practice
View the document4.1. Reflections on 'best practice'
View the document4.2. A Set of 'Best Practice' Criteria Arising from a Study of Loreto Sealdah
Open this folder and view contents4.3. Characteristics of Best Practice at Loreto Sealdah
View the document4.4. Towards a Model of Best Practice

4.2. A Set of 'Best Practice' Criteria Arising from a Study of Loreto Sealdah

Evidence collected at Loreto Sealdah points to several principles and practices in the school's functioning which contribute to its standing as an exemplary school. 7 Out of these principles and practices, six criteria of best practice have been devised, which may be applied to other contexts. These are not independent criteria, but rather represent an interpretation of the data collected from Loreto Sealdah and secondary sources on best practice. The six criteria are phrased below as questions:

· Is the teaching and learning stimulating, motivating and challenging?

· Is the curriculum appropriate to the needs and context of learners?

· Are the resources used imaginatively and to best capacity?

· Are the relationships between all the members of the school community open, productive and relatively happy?

· Does the school make explicit the values upon which the entire educational process is based, thereby contributing to a shared vision and purpose?

· Does the school make a contribution to society which is beyond the norm?

7 These are expanded upon in the following section (4.3).

While a detailed examination of each of these criteria in relation to Loreto Sealdah is beyond the scope of this small-scale research project, it is worth recording brief observations about the criteria. The following table suggests how the criteria have arisen from research data collected at the school:

Six Criteria of Best Practice

Criteria

Research Data

Teaching and Learning

Primary school uses an activity-centred pedagogy and local resources. A variety of methodologies are used across the school. Pupils appear to be stimulated and engaged. Child-to-child tutoring in rainbow and rural projects encourages reflection on teaching methods. The context of learning is stimulating, with the use of extensive display work. Good results achieved in public examinations. Pupils are challenged to understand social, economic and political issues of the day.

Curriculum

Life skills education (banking, crafts, vocational, personal and social development) is highly developed, as is value education. Relevant community, regional and national needs are integrated into the curriculum, which is also responsive to the experiences and resources that children bring from home or the streets. The curriculum exposes pupils to a breadth of life experience.

Resources

There is a creative, multi-use of resources, for example, a roof terrace converted into a school for rainbow children is also used as a night shelter and wash-room; a covered porch is used as the school hall, a dance classroom, an after hours TV room, and a blood bank for donors; the playground houses Calcutta Rescue ambulances; regular pupils are used as a teaching resource in rainbow, rural and Sealdah Railway Station Platform school.

Relationships

There is a regular principal-parent newsletter. High levels of transparency exist between principal, staff, parents, and pupils. Authority is dispersed ensuring greater freedom and responsibility for teachers, administrators and pupils. The school atmosphere is one of sharing, trust and celebration.

Values

There is an explicit programme of value education for pupils and value-related workshops are conducted with staff. The statement of the three key values occurs in newsletters and public assemblies. The school community appears to share a common purpose and sense of direction, based on experience, the development of spirituality, and value education.

Beyond the norm

There is a successful integration of middle class and poor children. The school emphasises a rights culture, social justice and the option for the poor, and stands against materialism. Pupils are exposed to, and in relationship with the poor. The structure and purpose of formal schooling is redefined. Co-operative values appear to triumph over competition.