Connecting Classrooms

Connecting Classrooms is a global programme for schools, designed to prepare young people for life in a global society and work in a global economy. We support teachers to develop their classroom practice in core skills – the six essential skills that young people need to prosper in the 21st Century. This will help them shape the future for themselves and generations to come. Connecting Classrooms is a partnership between the British Council and the Department for International Development.

Connecting Classrooms offers training packages to give teachers the knowledge and approaches they need to integrate the six core skills. The Core skills, sometimes referred to as deep learning or 21st century learning skills, are the essential skills young people need to be fully prepared for life and work in a global economy.

  • Digital Literacy
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity & Imagination
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Student Leadership
  • Citizenship

Developed by the British Council and leading education experts, the training packages introduce participants to new interactive approaches and techniques while helping them to develop practical activity plans for use in the classroom.

In South Sudan British Council implements Connecting Classroom project in partnership with Windle Trust International to train hundreds of teachers and school leaders on how to integrate the six core skills.

Teacher training in progress - demonstrating active and collaborative learning

Impacts on teachers: A casestudy

Teacher: Tabani John

Where: Yei, South Sudan

Position: P3 Science teacher as well as Head teacher

Core Skill Taken Part in: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

School Details: Kinji Primary school is located 1 Km from Yei Town along Yei-Lasu road. It is a government school with a population of 1300 pupils and has classes from primary 1 to primary 8. Its location in the urban area where the population was very dense resulted in the huge population. The average class size from primary 1 to primary 5 is 180 and from primary 6 to primary 8 is 130 pupils.

Details of Learning and Teaching: The school follows an outcome-based curriculum, which emphasizes child-centered teaching and learning although it is not well resourced. It lacks library, teachers share textbooks and only few of the pupils own a textbook and 95 per cent of teachers are untrained.

My school/class before attending the training: I had a class of 180 pupils who sat very close to the chalkboard making mobility within the class very difficult. Child-centered methods such as group work were not possible to use due to lack of space to organize the groups. Organizing teaching resources for the children was cumbersome due to the class size. This used to be the plight of all the teachers. Teachers including myself resorted to lecture method where the pupils became only passive listeners.  Children’s absenteeism was very common in all the classes. Performance of the pupils in all the classes were poor. As a head teacher I had been wondering what to do exactly to remedy the situation.

Tabani John - Connecting Classrooms

What I chose to improve: After attending the training I realized that I had to change the style of my teaching and that of my teachers from teacher-centered to child-centered. To do this required that I reduced the class sizes by dividing them into streams. I also needed to supervise the teachers so that they are able to embed critical thinking and problem solving skills in their lessons (making sure that they are able to ask open-ended questions and listen to their pupils as they attempt them. They also had to be helped to be more creative by using real objects from the environment and relate learning to real life situations).

What I did: I engaged with the members of School Management Committee to approve funds to construct additional classrooms for the overcrowded classes which they accepted and the additional classrooms were constructed in three weeks, being semi-permanent. The classes were then divided into streams and the school timetable was changed based on the new arrangement. The class sizes were reduced to an average of 85. I trained teachers on how to improvise teaching and learning resources from the environment.

I divided my class into asked groups and assigned leaders. I gave them assignments to do in their groups and those who were shy were able to participate actively in their groups. I asked open-ended questions and listen to the pupils as they attempt them. I used real objects from the environment and relate learning to real life situations. I gave pupils chance to ask questions and to respond to their peers’ questions.

In order to support my colleagues, I entered their classes to observe their lessons to assess whether or not they had embedded aspects of critical thinking and problem solving. After the lesson I sat with them to give feedback.

Impact on learners: Learning became fun as pupils were participating more. Pupils who are shy gained confidence and were able to ask questions and respond to questions from their colleagues too. Absenteeism became minimal. The performance of the pupils improved greatly making the school to be one of the best in Yei in both curricular and co-curricular activities. The following year the school population increased from 1300 to 1600.

Impact on me: I was recognized as one of the best teachers and was transferred the following year to another bigger school to raise its performance too (from Kinji to Kanjoro Primary School)

A Connecting Classrooms teacher training session