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close this bookThe Effectiveness of Teacher Resource Centre Strategy - Education research paper No. 34 (DFID, 1999, 257 p.)
close this folderCHAPTER TWO : The British Teachers' Centre - Its Rise and Fall: A Review of the Literature
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1.1 The Beginnings Of The Movement.
View the document1.2 A Centre For Curriculum Development.
View the document1.3 A Centre For Dissemination And Training.
View the document1.4 The Functioning And Use Of Centres.
View the document1.5 The Problems Of Assessing Teachers' Wants And Needs
View the document1.6 Widening And Diversifying Of Services.
View the document1.7 The Influence On Teachers' Centres Of Major Policy Changes
View the document1.8 Evaluation Of Effectiveness.
View the document1.9 Exploration Of The Issues Relating To Evaluation.
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View the documentConclusion

1.3 A Centre For Dissemination And Training.

Although curriculum development was often cited as the raison d'e of teachers' centres, and although, according to Weindling et al's survey (1983), some centre leaders considered that "courses" had little lasting effect on teachers, by 1970 a survey by the Schools Council found that in only a small number of centres was there any 'systematic local curriculum development', and that the time spent on schools council projects was insignificant (Thornbury pp27-28). Most teachers' centres were involved a wide range of other activities, according to Thornbury, 'meeting more fundamental needs'.

If the work of the two types of curriculum groups was to have any impact on what happened the classroom it became necessary to achieve effective dissemination of ideas to teachers. Often this took the form of short courses held at the teachers centre. Thornbury (1973: 29) saw this type of in-service training as the 'retail side' of curriculum development, involving the sale of 'the successful result to the consumer through courses'. He identified particular types of teachers' centres whose 'main purpose was to demonstrate the intimate connection between curriculum development and teacher education' (p.49).

The provision of in-service training for teachers increased dramatically the sixties and seventies, though Weindling et al noted that this happened 'without definition or agreement as to the aims of various providers' (1983: 23). Morant (1978: 200), suggested that the increasing involvement of teachers' centres in in-service training reflected among other things: the need, identified in a number of educational reports at the time as being 'increasingly articulated' by teachers, for convenient, practical, skills based courses; the lack of response to this 'urgent professional' need on the part of the university departments of education and the training colleges; and the influence of the University of London Institute of Education Teachers' Centre's involvement in inSET, 'that archetype of centres' (op.cit p199). Thornbury (1973) also mentions the finding from several surveys that initial training was not preparing teachers with skills needed for the classroom, and that teachers were dissatisfied with the standard and paucity of in-service courses, welcoming the opportunity to attend local courses with direct application to their teaching.

1.3.1 The pattern of development of centres.

Weindling et al's survey (1983) found that the pattern of development of a centre usually involved small beginnings with rapid increase personnel, facilities and equipment as inSET expanded. Morant (1978: 200) suggests that the rapid expansion of inSET in centres was facilitated by the fact that many LEAs gave the teachers, through steering committees, an 'extraordinary degree of freedom.....to map the advance of their own new centres.' Morant, Weindling et al and Thornbury all seem to imply that, though curriculum development was considered to be 'the higher ground' by the Schools Council and many centre leaders, teachers were more interested in practical courses which gave ideas and information about materials that could be applied to the real classroom situation. Thornbury rather cynically likening the situation to a Venus fly-trap, sees the courses as the scent and colour which 'lured teachers onto the sticky surface of curriculum development' (p. 29). The other significant boost to the expanding centres came from the Advisory Services who seized on the possibility of using convenient, centrally located centres for their inSET courses (Morant 1978).