Guest blog by Gareth Machin, Assistant Senior Tutor
The concept of “Teachers teach, students learn” has been an outmoded one for some time and, thankfully, the learning taking place in Perse classrooms is a far more interactive and engaging experience.
Nonetheless, in the era of league tables and performance related pay it is understandable that most teachers like to keep a rein on what is learnt and, moreover, on how it is learnt. Students may interact, engage, be inspired – as long as they stay within teacher-set parameters.
There is increasing evidence, though, that to have an entirely teacher-led education may be to miss out on one of the most effective educational resources of all – the students themselves. To that end, The Perse has been running a scheme for the last four years called ‘Study Buddies’ in which members of the upper sixth offer one to one subject help on a weekly basis to any member of the lower sixth who would like it. The scheme started in the Maths Department but has now branched out so that every subject is catered for.
The benefits are considerable for all parties. The lower sixth have the chance to improve their academic understanding through discussion with their peers (a pleasant change from listening to their teachers). For the upper sixth the benefits are two-fold: firstly, they improve their own subject understanding – “to teach is to learn twice” – and secondly, their interpersonal skills are challenged and honed in a way they weren’t expecting.
Study Buddies is just one aspect of peer tutoring at The Perse. Sixth form students are spending free periods helping out in junior classes, whilst others are visiting local primary schools to offer their help. Subject teachers are recognising the possibilities within their own classes.
There is no suggestion that the days of teachers are numbered, but peer tutoring can be fun, it’s effective and everyone benefits.