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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

August 7, 2003
 Newspage

Newfoundland and England
Tour compares education systems

Dr. Jean Brown
Dr. Jean Brown

English education, how do we compare? Thanks, in part, to Dr. Jean Brown of Memorial’s Faculty of Education and Rene Wicks, professional development officer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association (NLTA), 15 delegates, representing seven of the 10 Anglo districts in this province, got the chance to find out.

The group of senior educational leaders, including the executive secretary of the NLTA, traveled to England June 30–July 11 for an Educational Study Tour of England. The goal was to learn about the current trends in English education, make comparisons and discuss Newfoundland and Labrador’s system of education.

“About a year ago Rene and I met with Karen Cracknell, director, Harlow Campus, to discuss the possibility of re-starting the study tours that used to take place in Harlow years ago,” said Dr. Brown. “We knew there was a general interest among school districts and other educational agencies to better understand England’s national curriculum, especially the national curriculum, including the national literacy and numeracy strategies.”

With the inclusion of Karen Cracknell, the three-member team developed an itinerary that would use Harlow Campus as the base for school visits and on-campus lectures.

Last fall, invitations for the Educational Study Tour of England were sent to all school districts and other educational agencies. There were immediate expressions of interest from all over the province. “We were delighted to have this core group of people who really wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to go to England and study first hand what is happening in education there.”

Once in Harlow, the group, consisting of mostly directors and assistant directors of education in Newfoundland and Labrador, accompanied by spouses and family, participated in everything from cultural tours to social events to educational tours and presentations. The group heard from many interesting speakers including Leslie Auger, president, National Union of Teachers, Chris Fluksey, representative of Harlow Educational Consortium, Graham Shor of national evaluation system, OSTED, and many more. Visits were also made to a range of local schools including, a primary/elementary school, high schools, a catholic school, and an independent school.

Dr. Alan Perry, chairman of the board, Harlow Campus, MUN alumni, enthusiastic supporter of Newfoundland and Labrador, and member of England’s Wessex Society, also hosted a lunch for the group and arranged for a visit to a rural school in Dorset.

“We learned a lot about the English educational system during the tour,” Dr. Brown continued. “And we also took the time to learn about and experience their culture. The delegates visited Cambridge, sites such as Stonehenge, and the Henry Moore Foundation. We even sat down for a medieval feast at Hatfield House. The whole experience was tremendous. We enjoyed the hospitality of Harlow Campus staff members and the whole atmosphere of residence living.”

Dr. Brown is proud to report that positive feedback is still rolling in. It is now a general consensus that the Study Tour should become an annual event. There is a significant amount of interest from other senior administrators and principals around the province, as well as tremendous enthusiasm from Harlow schools wishing to be involved. Of course, Dr. Brown would love to continue this initiative, adding that she would like to add an element of choice in the future.

“I would like to see this year’s professional development theme expand to offer a special topics, for-credit, course option. This may appeal to a wider audience and encourage more people to take this tour. It is an experience of learning, fun and a lot of memories. And it is of great benefit to this province’s education system. What more can you ask for?”

 


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Next issue: September 4, 2003

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