Miss Migena Shabani, one of our Maths teachers, travelled to Dalgram High School in Bangladesh for one week to experience Mathematics in the Bangladeshi education system. This ongoing project hopes to expand the our academy’s connections across the globe, and to enhance provision at Bower Park Academy.
Our partner school is based in Rangpur, with over 600 students and a mere 15 passionate teachers. Each teacher covers up to three different subjects and, unlike the UK system, they were appointed to their post by the government. With class sizes varying from 100 to 150 students, conditions were difficult and automatically made our mixed ability classes of 30 almost laughable.
Migena said: “When arriving at the school I was treated with a welcome for royalty! The students were all lined up with flowers and teachers were all outside. Before the day started they carried out a few exercises as a whole school, sang the national anthem and I had the privilege of raising the flag with the headteacher. I knew my time here was going to be special.”
Each lesson was 40 minutes long, apart from the first lesson which was 45 minutes long to allow for registers to be taken. Taking into account the existing curriculum in the UK, if this system were to be implemented here, I can already the distance murmur and moans of “How can I teach all the curriculum in that amount of time?”.
It reminded me of my own school expectations of the 1990s, with students standing up at the beginning of each lesson and only sitting down when the teacher told them to. One rule that got me thinking was the answering of questions. According to Migena, every time a student answered a question, they had to stand up! This didactic method seemed to work, and also gained respect!
Differentiation is key at present for mixed-ability teaching, however with the new specifications in 2016, Bangladeshi teachers may be able to teach us a thing or two! Students were expected to complete work to the same level of difficulty, and those who couldn’t access the work were expected to work on it outside of school time! Sounds similar to the new UK specifications and linear examinations (differentiation by outcome it seems)!
When it came to Maths knowledge, Migena was again impressed! Students were taught topics in great depth, with the final exam being different each year in format! All of the students were very fluent in Maths – with notations and proofs being common. They all spent minimum of one hour per day on Mathematics.
Does the UK system allow us currently to move to a linear examination system where students will achieve? Maybe with some shared ideas, shared teaching and a partnership with Rangpur, we will be able to use the Connecting Classrooms project to allow all of our students to achieve!
Migena said that the visit will not only enhance her appreciation for our education system, our students and resources - the experiences, friendships and shared professional respect for this universal language will last a lifetime! We look forward to sharing our vision and education system when Dalgram High School teacher Dipen Chandra Sen visits us reciprocally before the end of term.
Have you taught in Bangladesh? Share your experiences below.