Some members of the National Training Team holding copies of the PLC Handbook
Education is often cited as one of the most important determinants of Ghana’s economic growth because of the crucial role it plays in the development of the country’s human capital base.
Recognising this, the Ghana Education Service (GES) has initiated plans for a national roll out of Professional Learning Community (PLC) sessions across all Senior High Schools (SHSs) and Senior High Technical Schools (SHTSs) in Ghana. This is aimed at strengthening teachers’ understanding and adherence to the National Teachers’ Standards (NTS) and prepare them for the introduction of the new secondary education curriculum which will be rolled-out in the 2024/25 academic year.
Weekly PLC sessions have been piloted by GES since 2022 in 12 SHS and SHTS using structured Handbooks developed in partnership with the National Teaching Council (NTC). In a recent evaluation, it was found that these weekly sessions have had a significant impact on improving teaching and learning in these 12 schools, providing a strong evidence-base for the national scale-up of this approach.
To ensure the smooth institutionalisation and roll-out of the PLC sessions across all 726 schools, GES organised a five-day training session for a 100-member National Training Team comprising representatives from GES, T-TEL, Senior High Schools, and Colleges of Education. The training, which took place in May 2023, focused on equipping the National Training Team with the necessary skills and resources to support teachers and officers across regional and district education directorates to effectively implement PLCs in SHSs and SHTSs.
The sessions demonstrated how teachers can be supported and equipped with interactive and innovative approaches to make teaching and learning more engaging for students. With a strong focus on leveraging technology and promoting Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), the training also highlighted the importance of socio-emotional learning in the classroom. All approaches used in the training were drawn from the National Teacher’s Standards (NTS), which sets out the values and attitudes, knowledge and practices expected of all professional teachers in Ghana.
A cross-section of the National Training Team
During the training for the National Team, Ms. Faustina Graham, from the Schools and Instructions Unit at GES, emphasised the importance of the training, stating, “we believe that the national rollout of PLC will enhance the quality of education in Ghana. We are committed to ensuring that all teachers have access to the resources and support they need to provide high-quality education in our schools.”
Ms. Beryl Opong-Agyei, the National Secondary Education Coordinator at Transforming Teaching, Education and Learning (T-TEL), who is supporting GES with the national roll-out, expressed her appreciation to all participants for their interest in the roll-out of PLCs in senior high schools. She further highlighted the importance of PLCs in improving the professional competence of teachers. “You are the people to train and support the teachers to adopt best practices to improve the quality of their teaching,” she said.
Highlighting the significant role the team are expected to play over the coming weeks by rolling out the training to over 700 schools, Mrs. Ivy Asantewa Owusu, the Director of Education, Eastern Region, encouraged the National Team to continue to support the teachers to ensure that they prepare students to be global citizens who can thrive in the 21st-century workforce and contribute meaningfully to the world around them. She added that to do so, teachers “need to be encouraged, motivated and equipped with strategies and best practices to improve teaching and learning.”
Mr. Robin Todd, the Executive Director of T-TEL, emphasised that the success or otherwise of the new secondary education curriculum hinges to a large extent on the effective implementation of weekly PLC sessions in schools with the support of the training teams. This is because it is these weekly PLC sessions, rather than one-off training courses, which will be used to ensure that all teachers have a strong understanding of the secondary curriculum prior to the national roll-out.
The training was led by GES with support from Professor Jonathan Fletcher, Key Advisor for Teaching and Learning Partnerships at T-TEL.
Prof. Fletcher facilitating a session
“Through these sessions, we hope to support teachers to make learning enjoyable, recognising the individual differences of learners and helping them to develop themselves, regardless of their challenges in learning,”Professor Fletcher said.
Participants expressed confidence that the training has contributed to their professional growth as well as having broadened their skills set to better enhance their teaching skills and knowledge and to foster a culture of collaboration and excellence in senior high schools.
Mr. Miftaw Imoro, the Assistant Headteacher, Academic at Gambaga Girls’ SHS expressed satisfaction with the depth of knowledge and skills he had acquired through the training stating “I’m very confident in applying the knowledge learned from the training because we have been facilitating PLC sessions in the 12 pilot schools and we are seeing positive results. We will also be training Regional, Municipal and District Education Office staff next week across the various regions in Ghana, and the third week, we shall proceed to train school-based staff on PLC sessions facilitations. This will help with the implementation of the new curriculum.”
Ms. Esther Okaitso Armah, a teacher from Mangoase Senior High remarked that “the training has provided me with new and innovative ways to make teaching and learning more interesting and interactive. I have learned about differentiation and social and emotional learning, that is diversifying your teaching so that the different levels of learners can take part and benefit from your teaching. Some of the things we already know, some we have to improve on. Now I am going to be more conscious about some of these competencies and apply them in my lessons.”
Mr. Paul Mensah, a tutor at St. Louis College of Education firmly believes that the knowledge gained from the training is going to revolutionise the way teaching is carried out in senior high schools. Having worked as a Professional Development Coordinator, Paul is well aware of the benefits of PLCs and how they can improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Implementation of PLCs through school-cluster based training
Following the training of the National Team training, Ghana Education Service (GES) and National Teaching Council (NTC) successfully completed two weeks of school-cluster based Professional Learning Community (PLC) training for representatives from 705 Senior High Schools (SHS) and Senior High Technical Schools (SHTS) across Ghana.
These weekly PLC sessions, facilitated by trained teachers within each school, will help to ensure that all teachers are familiar with the National Teachers’ Standards (NTS) and are able to incorporate concepts related to Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) in their classrooms.
These PLC sessions have the potential to bring about lasting positive changes across Ghana’s secondary education system and can be used to ensure that all teachers understand and embrace the new secondary education curriculum before it is rolled-out nationally in the 2024/25 academic year.