Closing the Gap

Effective classroom strategies for closing the gap in educational achievement for children and young people living in poverty, including white, working class boys

Jonathan Sharples, Robert Slavin, Bette Chambers, and Caroline Sharp (2011)

This review, published by the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services (C4EO), has shown that improving classroom practice can close the achievement gap for children living in poverty. The authors found that it is the quality of teaching that makes the biggest difference to learning outcomes.

Effective Classroom Strategies For Closing The Gap In Educational Achievement For Children And Young People Living In Poverty, Including White, Working Class Boys looked at the international research on “what works” in improving learning outcomes for children in poverty. The review focused on strategies and interventions to improve core literacy and numeracy across early-years, primary and secondary settings. It found that there are a number of approaches that can help. These include:

  • Improving the quality of teaching by coaching staff in specific teaching strategies
  • Using evidence-based approaches, such as co-operative learning, structured and systematic approaches to teaching phonics and “learning to learn” strategies
  • Whole-school improvement packages which address multiple elements of school provision
  • The use of well-specified, well-supported and well-implemented programmes incorporating extensive professional development.

Other approaches that were found to be less successful included adopting new curricula and the traditional use of ICT (eg, individualised self-teaching programmes).

The findings of the review are in line with the Department for Education’s recent White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, which said that “All the evidence from different education systems around the world shows that the most important factor in determining how well children do is the quality of teachers and teaching.”

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