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close this bookMulti-grade Teaching - A Review of Research and Practice - Education Research Paper No. 12 (DFID, 1994, 63 p.)
close this folderChapter 4 - Implications for the practice of multi-grade teaching and further research
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentNational level
View the documentRegional/district level
View the documentTeacher/classroom level


Researchers on multi-grade teaching are unanimous on at least one point. For children to learn effectively in multi-grade environments teachers need to be well organised, well resourced and well trained, as well as to hold positive attitudes to multi-grade teaching. Yet, as we have seen in previous chapters, many teachers who find themselves teaching in a multi-grade environment are frequently under-resourced, and are often the most undereducated and under-trained members of a national teaching force. In this chapter various pointers to action to improve the effectiveness of multi-grade teaching are drawn together. Four documents are particularly useful in this respect. Collingwood's (1991) Multiclass Teaching in Primary Schools is a handbook prepared with and for teachers in the Pacific region, with support from the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States. It is extremely well presented and could be adapted for use with teachers in many countries. Abhayadeva's (1989) account of a pilot project in Sri Lanka, carried out with assistance from UNICEF, sets out a number of pointers to action which have emerged at the classroom and teacher level. The UNESCO/APEID (1989) synthesis of country reports also offers advice at this level, but goes further and sets out implications for curriculum planning at the district and national levels. This multi-levelled approach is also adopted in Thomas and Shaw's (1992) Issues in the Development of Multi-grade Schools.

Since there is a degree of overlap in the lengthy recommendations which are made in the four documents they will be summarised and synthesised here in the form of questions, a format which may be useful both in work with policymakers and practitioners, and in defining developmental research work in this area. To these will be added additional points which arise from the case-studies and research studies presented in chapters 2 and 3.

Although we could start with a series of questions for the teacher in the classroom and work out from there, those initiatives which have had far reaching and lasting effects on the multi-grade classroom appear to have received support from district and national level authorities. Experience suggests that the multi-grade teacher cannot, and indeed should not, be expected to solve the problems of the multi-grade classroom alone. Hence, the list begins with questions for the national-level policymaker.