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Syllabus sells Uganda short

Luke Reilly explains that teaching content, not language, is the challenge in Ugandan primary education, with the main culprit being the curriculum

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Uganda is a country with an extremely young population. Almost half of its people are under fifteen years old. Of this demographic, around 86 per cent in rural areas attend primary schools but only 14 per cent then go on to secondary education.

According to the data from the Uwezo initiative, Ugandan literacy and numeracy are lagging far behind its east African neighbours Tanzania and Kenya.

The medium of education in Uganda is English. Schools discourage pupils communicating in ‘vernacular’ languages, and the government seems to expect children to be fluent around Year 3. But, as I have found out from first-hand experience, the reality is very different.

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An incentive to improve

Melanie Butler explains why inspection results must be readily available and easily understood to really have an impact on raising standards

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Welcome to the latest update of the EL Gazette Centres of Excellence listing. We are often asked, ‘Are these league tables?’ and the short answer is no. We only list the top performers on British Council inspections, and we name the strongest centres and schools. What we do not do, for lack of space as much anything, is list every single school so people can see who is at the bottom. In other words, we do not shame the weakest.

There is no doubt this list encourages language centres to do better on the British Council’s criteria, or ‘performance indicators’ to give them their technical name. You only have to look at the number of centres marked in red on the listings – all of which were not Gazette Centres of Excellence before – to see that publishing results can improve performance. The Centres of Excellence listing exists to celebrate success. We do not, at least not yet, publish a list of those at the bottom.

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Set for success – why some sectors are scoring top marks

Melanie Butler analyses British Council accreditation scores to find out what kind of institution is most likely to be a Centre of Excellence

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There are many different types of providers who apply for accreditation by the British Council – private language schools, universities, boarding schools and even, in one case, an organisation which runs holiday activity camps mainly for British children. But which sectors score best?

All three centres in the top-ranking groups are private language schools, but not just any old private language schools. They are well-established year-round schools with a strong commitment to education, a solid core of permanent staff and are all members of the same organisation – The English Network (Ten). Two Ten members, Wimbledon School of English and Beet, received perfect scores under the new system. Another two, ELC Bristol and English in Chester, scored an unbeaten nine points under the old system. Over half of all Ten members are in the top 2 per cent of schools, and eight of them are Centres of Excellence.

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The importance of application

If you want to boost your chances to receive Erasmus+ funding, you’ll need to fill in all the forms correctly, explains Nile’s Hanna K Furre

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European teachers and trainers can access funding for continuing professional development and other training through the European Union. This funding has been available for several years under a variety of programmes.

In 2013 we saw the end of the Comenius programme and the start of Erasmus+ with a 40 per cent increase in the funding budget. Under Key Action 1: Learning Mobility of Individuals, education professionals can apply for funding ‘to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness’. This programme benefits teachers and trainers from the European Union and from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey and the Republic of Macedonia, with more countries possibly to be added in the future.

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Coordination is key for Erasmus+

The Gazette’s reviews supremo Wayne Trotman describes how his appointment as a Turkish university’s Erasmus+ coordinator led to a steep learning curve in Italy

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A few months ago, following an afternoon of teaching essay writing, I received a phone call from the ELT director at Izmir Katip Çelebi University (IKÇU), one of Turkey’s newest, who said he had an interesting offer. I’d heard such things before and knew they tended to involve extra work, so it was with mixed feelings that I ambled down the corridor to meet my destiny.

‘You like travelling and dealing with folks from other countries, don’t you?’ he began, to which I nodded. ‘And you’re still on good terms with the International Office here, I hope?’ I nodded again in agreement. ‘So how would you like to assist me as Erasmus cocoordinator?’ he continued. I accepted but mumbled how I knew little about such matters, and he mentioned there would be an Erasmus+ staff training week taking place in Padova, near Venice, about a month later, at which I could learn everything I needed to know.

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