“The students learn, but the teacher learns as well”

Chile is closing the gap of educational attainment on an international level having significantly improved student performance in mathematics, reading and science from 1999 until 2009 [Hanushek, Peterson and Woessmann, Is the US catching up?  EducationNext, Fall 2012]: http://educationnext.org/is-the-us-catching-up/

Our research for this week outlines the reforms that Chile have made to their educational system and their approach to teacher continuing professional development.

Over the past 20 years, Chile has consistently invested in education.  Whilst the fundamental challenges for Chile remain to reduce inequality and improve quality, policy-makers have introduced radical and sometimes controversial changes to the educational system.

The first wave of reforms related to market-oriented changes such as the decentralisation of administration of the educational system, the introduction of a wide-scale voucher system based on student attendance and privately-operated public schools.  Standardised tests were also introduced to encourage choice and competition.

The second wave of reforms related to improving the infrastructure and teaching through investment in buildings, lengthening the school day, curriculum reform and focus on teacher training.  The reform to modernise the curriculum focused on teamwork, problem-solving, experimental learning and managing uncertainty.  Teacher training has included study tours for selected teachers inside and outside of Chile to learn about improved methods of practice.  Teaching has also been made more attractive by increasing the salaries of teachers [McMeekin, R. Incentives to Improve Education, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2003]:  http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Incentives _to_Improve_Education.html?id=0oBesRTr168C&redir_esc=y

Initiatives such as investment from business has created new opportunities through funding of  scholarships, laboratories, state-of-the-art technology for scientific education and executives visiting classes to discuss business strategies with students including learning how to set up your own business.

Chile has recently introduced ‘Ensena Chile’ which is a new social programme funded by Anglo American.  High-calibre graduates in fields such as medicine, law, engineering and business administration are selected and trained to teach in vulnerable communities across Chile in state schools.  This programme although implemented on a small-scale reports of achieving results in improving student outcomes [Guardian website, Graduates find success teaching in Chilean Schools, 1st August 2012]: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/graduates-find-success-teaching-chilean-schools

Teachers Media has produced a series of films describing the educational system in Chile.  Following the link below leads to a highly informative short video of the collaborative approach to teachers continuing professional development in a high-achieving secondary school in Santiago, Chile [this video is only available to view in the United Kingdom].  This school introduced a collaborative approach through creating a network of support where teachers can recount and learn from their experiences with each other.  Teachers engage in a shared project learning community and the language department have created their own team which they believe is one of the main reasons for an increase in their results.  Teachers Media link:  http://www.teachersmedia.co.uk/videos/secondary-curriculum-leadership