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
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
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?”