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A research team from Redcar & Cleveland College are leading the way when it comes to promoting effective collaboration between teachers and student support assistants.

The group have been exploring ways to improve students’ learning and self-assessment in the classroom and have now been invited to share what they have learned at two national conferences.

Heading up the project, education lecturer Dr. Catherine McPartland said: “The purpose was to look at enabling student support assistants and teachers working together more effectively.

“By doing so it encourages the learners to take responsibility for their learning, leading them to achieve at a higher level.”

With funding from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), the action research project saw the team of 15 teachers, student support assistants and teaching and learning practitioners from across the college, come together to review current practices and explore improvement strategies.

Catherine said: “My role as a teacher in education is to do a lot of lesson observations. One thing I was aware of was that teachers and student support need to work together.

“The research project gave us the time and space to try out new strategies and see how effective they would be.”

Titled, Synergy in Learning, Tutors and Student Support Assistants Working Together to Promote Learner Metacognition, the group implemented strategies including the use of interim (exit) tickets for students to reflect on their learning and identify any gaps, mind maps and questioning strategies.

The results proved so effective, the project team drew up a set of guidelines for effective classroom practice which offers a clearer vision for working effectively together and the guidelines have been shared throughout the organisation. The ETF has also extended the research to the summer.

Now asked to share their findings at the Teacher Education Advancement Network annual conference in Birmingham and the British Educational Research Association (BERA) annual conference in Newcastle, Catherine said: “The techniques have been well received in the college by both staff and students.

“It is fantastic to be asked to share our research to a wider industry audience. It is an honour and great for the project.”

Teaching at the college for 15 years, Catherine is a firm believer in continuous career development. The group took part in a range of professional development activities and training through OTLA and in-house development sessions.

She said: “It is invigorating to be a part of a research project like this, as a teacher it is important to always be learning and exploring new ways to improve teaching and learning.”

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