Estonian teachers see what they can learn from Norfolk schools

A group of Estonian teachers visited Neatherd High School in Dereham. Also pictured at the front are (from left) Joe O'Connor, Adrian Tebbutt and Terry Brunton. Picture: Ian Burt A group of Estonian teachers visited Neatherd High School in Dereham. Also pictured at the front are (from left) Joe O'Connor, Adrian Tebbutt and Terry Brunton. Picture: Ian Burt

Saturday, February 1, 2014
6:30 AM

A ten-strong contingent of Estonian teachers and education leaders are visiting Norfolk as part of a cultural awareness tour to share ideas with their British counterparts.

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Guests were shown around Neatherd High School in Dereham, observing lessons and talking to staff about how teaching practices differed across Europe.

The four-day tour, which includes visits to Holt Hall, Norwich and King’s Lynn, is part of the EU-funded Comenius programme, whose aims include developing understanding of the diversity of European cultures among young people and educators.

The visiting delegation includes teachers from three Estonian schools, and representatives from the Tallinn School Heads Association and the Tallinn Education Department, both based in the Baltic country’s capital.

Adrian Tebbutt, an independent advisor to Norfolk County Council for the Comenius project, said: “This started because the Tallinn Education Department were looking for a partner in the UK to work on two things – improving parental engagement within education, and improving classroom practice.

“It is a great fit for Norfolk, because we have got very good classroom practice and expertise in what we call assessment for learning – which is what the Estonians wanted to pick up on.

“In turn, they have got very good expertise in engaging parents, so we are picking their brains for how we can engage parents with schools, so it is win-win all round.”

During the visit to Dereham on Thursday, Olga Gortšakova, a teacher from Tallinn Õismäe Russian Lyceum, said: “We hope to see community involvement in the teaching, how the pupils interact with each other and with their teachers in the lessons, and how they assess them. We are introducing this formative education system into our schools and we want to see how it works here.”

Viivi Lokk, head of the general education unit at the Tallinn Education Department, said: “In Estonia, we can show what we are doing, but we can learn something new here. Coming from the education department, I am here to so that our schools and headmasters can see the differences – or if there are no differences.”

Berit Toim, a teacher at Kalamaja Basic School, said: “From my perspective it is my first time seeing a British school, so I really want to see a lesson and how things are organised, and how freely the students communicate with their teacher.”

Yesterday, the visitors toured Whitefriars Primary School in King’s Lynn, and they are due to return there today for a Science, Art and Writing day.

Mr Tebbutt said the event would partly replicate what he saw on an earlier exchange visit to Estonia, where pupils brought their fathers to school for a range of activities which would include traditional singing, dance and cake-making.

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