Resources – books, CDRoms, multimedia
· Resources appear to be plentiful and easily accessible, are well organised and teachers are also able to develop specifics to meet individual / small group needs. Teachers appeared to be happy with the level of available materials.
· A range of commercially produced materials are available in Euskara. There is one daily Basque newspaper which is considered to be a useful resource. Need to follow up use of TV Media in schools.
· Huge financial investment to support teachers producing additional materials. The Department of Education facilitates staff release for time periods of up to three months.
· Teachers are directed from the centre regarding the use of curriculum materials.
· Strategic Plan for “Eskola 2.0” to move forwards the use of technologies embedded in learning and teaching. Infrastructures not yet in place but teachers spoken to were keen to participate. Not too dissimilar in approaches to what was our NGfL programme. The technologies themselves have moved on but the principles of implementation are similar.
· There were no “gripes” from teachers regarding any inadequacy of resources.
The IRALE Programme
· IRALE program was established to enable teachers to meet the competences of the European Framework.
· A huge plus in the Basque education system is that teachers, who wish to teach in Basque, are enabled to participate in an intensive language learning programme for up to 3 years – time out of the classroom with full pay. There is a sufficiently large pool of supply staff with the requisite qualifications for teaching the Basque Language as well as working in Basque Immersion.
· The Government have now addressed the teacher deficit, from 5% moving to 85% of teachers fully qualified to teach the language or in Basque immersion…..This success has taken 30 years to reach this position. There is a clear view that that there is no “Quick Fix”. Focus will now be on top-up/refresher courses of three month duration for the new generation of Basque teachers and teachers relocating from non-Basque speaking principalities.
· Good links with other minority languages through Mercator, Comenius, Da Vinci funded projects, Catalan, Galician languages. Links also with CAER group in United Kingdom.
· No need to actively recruit teachers as IRALE programme guarantees they have the supply of teachers they require for Basque teaching. Teachers are appointed to a post in a school and this post is their post for as long as they wish to remain in the school. There is little or no movement of teachers between and amongst schools. Teachers are considered to be civil servants.
· There are continuous opportunities for teachers to improve their skills and language competence. However given that there is no promoted structure within Basque schools, the Headteacher cannot insist on a teacher, with a language deficit, participating in the training courses. Inspectors and the Directorate appear to have control over the school system and ensure that BAC curriculum is applied.
· An interesting difference to our own system is the model of a “Rotating Headteacher” elected by the teachers in the school. Elections take place every 3 years but may occur annually. Interested in exploring this further to ascertain impact of this model in a number of areas.
Professional Development Opportunities
· Whilst literacy skills are addressed in the three month refresher courses, in addition all teachers can have a sabbatical every five years in which they can have a year’s absence from school on 85% salary. Salary is spread over the five year period to facilitate this sabbatical.
· Parents are involved to a great extent in the co-operative school that was visited in Bilbao. The active participation /role of parents in the other school visited appeared fairly limited. However, administrators equated parental involvement with the increasing number of parents choosing Basque education for their children. The majority of the parents either have Basque themselves or are very supportive of this education system.
· There are family learning opportunities available for parents wishing to learn Basque with their children. There are summer schools for parents and children and there is real feeling of parental ownership of their children’s learning.
Strategy and Policy
Strategy and Policy
· Policy development is a top down model with the administration making final decisions on the shape of the curriculum and policy development. Administration and elected members make decisions on education policy and practice.
· There is limited research information unique to Basque education system, however explicit reference was made to Fishman and Colin Baker research recommendations and how they might apply them to their situation.
· Assessment of pupils aged 10 years and 14 years will be introduced in 2010. Data will not be analysed on a school basis but rather on a principality wide basis. ICT software is in place to enable the administration to record data. It appears that the collation of the data will be extremely labour intensive with Inspectors having to visit their respective schools to pose the relevant questions required to be answered and recorded. This may take up to five visits to individual schools to source requisite information. There also appears to be an emphasis on quantitative rather than qualitative evaluations.