In 2016 LRTT Fellows - our trained teachers from the UK and the US - worked in Ghana to improve the quality of primary education. To make sure we were addressing teachers’ needs, we worked with training provider Sabre on its Fast-track Teacher Training programme.

LRTT International Fellows with Ghanaian Teachers - Sabre Trust

The Challenge

Sabre has been delivering the Fast-track Transformational Teacher Training programme to kindergarten teachers in Ghana since 2013. As the programme expands its reach, Sabre was keen to ensure that the quality foundation children receive in kindergarten is not being diluted or eroded when they begin primary school. Partnering with LRTT provided an opportunity to help better understand the benefits and impact of extending teacher training support to the lower primary level.

Diagnosing Teacher Needs

Teaching in many Ghanaian schools relies on teacher-centred delivery styles such as rote learning and chorus answers, which often leads to pupils’ disengagement. Sabre saw the need for teachers in Ghana’s Central Region to develop their understanding of, and training in, more child-centred teaching methods and increase learning outcomes for their pupils.

Sabre found that many lower primary teachers had limited knowledge or understanding of phonics teaching, resulting in low pupil literacy levels. If literacy levels are low, access to the whole curriculum is limited. Sabre teamed up with LRTT to address the challenge, including phonics training in conferences. Training these teachers means that pupils can build on the phonics and language skills delivered at kindergarten.

Mastery Approach

Our Fellows ran two consecutive four-day training conferences in Cape Coast— one for each of the two Central Region districts where Sabre works. LRTT international Fellows shared a big range of strategies for managing and teaching classes. Our conferences covered:

  • behaviour for learning
  • assessment for learning
  • phonics
  • differentiation
  • story sharing
  • questioning
  • group work
  • lesson planning
  • marking and feedback

The Training

For Sabre, the work was not just about training teachers, it was about transforming education. Sabre invited a range of education professionals to the conference to embed the new practices deeper in the education system as a way of making the project more sustainable. Nearly 180 delegates attended, of which 175 were certified.

  • 111 Lower primary classroom teachers.
  • 30 Head teachers
  • 14 Ghana Education Service officers
  • 24 OLA College of Education tutors

How Teachers Benefit

Participants took away a range of techniques to enable more engaging and effective teaching for large, under-resourced classes. For example, teachers now have a better understanding of how to manage their classroom in smaller groups and use peer-marking strategies to ease their workload.

Changing Behaviours

Phonics in songs and games

Before LRTT training, phonics wasn’t widely practised in lower primary classrooms. Now, a large proportion of the trained teachers are delivering phonics sessions in some form, many of which use interactive techniques like songs and games. The teachers have seen how much these strategies can help pupils with their language and literacy skills. Moving beyond letter sound and identification, teachers can now teach pupils how to blend and segment words, developing their ability to read and spell.

Prevention is better than punishment

LRTT Fellows encouraged the transition from punitive to positive and preventative behaviour management. Although corporal punishment has been outlawed in Ghana for some time, many teachers lacked knowledge on how to deal with adverse behaviour without it. Teachers now have a better understanding of how positive reinforcement of model behaviour can prevent negative behaviour from occurring in the first place. Some teachers are now also using group reward systems as a form of incentive-based behaviour management.

Some schools are now leading the change

Since the conferences, several schools have run their own internal in-service training to share the new LRTT techniques with other teachers in their schools.

The Teacher Journey

You’ve been certified! An LRTT fellow presents a Ghanaian educator with a certificate - Sabre Trust

For Saeed Daud, headteacher of Jacob Wilson-Sey Basic school in Cape Coast Metropolis, the training by Sabre and LRTT is improving the school’s ability to retain pupils. He said:

“Before this year, many parents used to take their children to other schools after our kindergarten. Since they heard that our primary teachers are now getting training, we have very large numbers staying on to lower primary.”

Emmanuel Dadzie is a Class 3 primary teacher from Pershie M.A .school in Central Region. After attending LRTT’s training, his enthusiasm for phonics caught the eye of the headteacher. He is now the school’s champion on the subject and has been asked to run sessions for pupils across the school. Last term, one of his pupils won a district spelling competition. He said:

“If we had not had this intervention, we would be having a big problem in this school. Many children couldn’t identify letters before, even in class 6.”

Measuring Impact

Sabre made monitoring and evaluation visits to 24 of the 32 schools whose teachers were trained. Observers saw promising changes in schools across the area and noted widespread enthusiasm and willingness among teachers to learn from the project. Phonics and classroom management were the stand-out successes. Further support and intervention will be required to consistently turn these teaching practices into the norm.

Written by Ben Kuria for LRTT and Rivka Benjamin, from Sabre Trust

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