Golden 5 – Empowering Teachers to Meet Student Diversity
What were the main aims of the initiative?
Golden5 is the product of a project carried out between 2004 and 2008 under the Comenius 2.1. European programme. The Golden5 project has as a main objective to improve teacher strategies in order to increase student motivation and psychological development, having as a basic principle inclusive education. Originally, it was created to address these issues among secondary students; however, the programme can be used in all educational stages. The programme is composed of three main components:
The main aims of the project are to increase and improve teachers’ strategies and empower and motivate them to deal with a diversity of students in the class in order to:
Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.
During the years 2006–2008, the project was initially created and launched in: Stavanger, Norway; Seville, Spain; Warsaw, Poland; Ferrara, Italy, and Brussels, Belgium. The project was aimed at the secondary education sector, targeting around 100 teachers and 1,000 children in the classroom, especially those with school adjustment problems (see pilot and impact reports referenced under supporting materials).
From 2012 to 2015, work has been carried out in the Basque Country, especially in the province of Guipuzcoa, where more than 150 schools implement the programme Golden5 (G5). Here, the number of students can exceed 30,000, as all stages of education, from kindergarten through to high school, are covered. Adjacent to the Basque country, at least 30 schools in Navarra are also involved.
Since 2011, the programme has also been carried out in Palestine (West Bank and Gaza). During the years 2011–2015, G5 was carried out in 20 West Bank schools, in all educational districts, and at both primary and secondary level, involving 350 teachers and over 10,000 students. The results were positive for the performance and motivation of students and teachers. However, the project could not continue due to lack of funding and resources. In the Gaza Strip the project has also had very positive results, but lack of financing and the inability to monitor and promote implementation has also lead to the work being stopped.
In Norway, G5 was carried out in several schools during the early years. Recently, they have mainly used the five golden areas: classroom management, building relationships, social climate, adjusted learning and family-school relations; in counselling individual teachers and as single courses to schools. The material developed in G5, like important key steps within each of the five areas and the sociogram (provided as Golden5 resources for teachers) are used in classes/schools in Norway every week. The sociogram has, in the last few years, been further developed and has now become a very popular tool for teachers in Norway to more deeply ‘understand the classroom’.
What issues/challenges does the example address?
The school is a developmental context, where children spend much of their lives. The potential of this context must be seen in order to optimise the development of each and every student, especially those who most need attention. Based on the theory of the development of ‘self-determination’ and a re-consideration of concepts introduced by Heider, Adler, Rogers, and many others, the project proposes an educational practice based on the positive, from a perspective of confidence and determination to address the needs of all students.
To facilitate this task, G5 is organised into five main areas and concrete strategies. The areas are: classroom management, building relationships, social climate, learning and close relationships with family. Each of these areas also provides specific resources to use in everyday educational practice. It is a programme of small steps, in order to achieve breakthroughs.
How was the Initiative implemented?
The implementation is flexible. Teachers need to be aware of the theoretical basis of each ‘golden area’, before implementing some key steps. The training process is continuous, with theoretical sessions, implementation, self-assessment of the results, proposals for improvement, and continuous ‘scaffolding’ of teacher’s changed practice for one to four years. The training is for 25 hours per year, with about 100 hours of implementation and monitoring. Once completed, counselling should continue.
The G5 Programme in Poland is an educational programme and a modular course for educational staff to create a more congenial and effective school environment. Its aim is to overcome pupils’ adaptation difficulties during their transition from primary to lower secondary school, to prevent social exclusion and to improve academic achievement. It concentrates on improving teachers’ competences in applying strategies for classroom management, building relationships, social climate, personalised learning and family–school relationships. Teachers conduct a self-evaluation of their skills, and then select the steps they will apply in the classroom. They also decide on which pupils to focus their efforts first (these are mainly children at risk of social exclusion and in need of special attention). The programme is implemented in a classroom environment over a 16-week timeframe. During this period, certified trainers who meet on a weekly basis provide support to teachers. Schools interested in applying the G5 Programme may take part in training opportunities held by one of more than 70 G5 trainers prepared to provide in-service training to teachers in order to help them implement the programme in their classroom.
What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?
Between 2007 and 2008 two evaluations were carried out: an evaluation of the pilot project and an evaluation of the impact on students. The five countries belonging to Golden5 at that time participated in these activities. Reports were published on the following website: http://www.golden5.org/golden5/?q=en/node/76 website. Major outcomes were: increased academic outcomes and student self-esteem.
An evaluation in the West Bank in Palestine included student results and teachers’ reports. Results were submitted to the funders. The main results indicated better self-determination in teachers and students.
The evaluation in Gaza has been qualitative. Data showed that students and teachers felt more supported, more secure and more confident.
Results of the evaluation done by teachers in the Basque Country (2014 and 2015) and in the south of Poland (2015) were presented at different conferences organised by regional teacher training centres. All of them pointed in the same direction: teachers felt more confident, more creative, and case studies showed big changes concerning individual children, groups or classes. All of these materials are in the process of being published.
Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?
As part of the project, an additional external evaluation was developed. The main report pointed out that G5 programme fosters school innovation (such as co-operative projects to reduce bullying and school failure and build learning communities and interculturality) when it is being implemented (see report).
Case studies show that students at risk of social exclusion improved, participated more and had more confidence in themselves and were better adjusted in their classes.
The impact evaluation showed that individual students improve, as well as general classes.
Other observations from the qualitative reports from teachers (especially in Palestine) showed that they also improved their educational practices and wellbeing in general.
Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?
The first objective at the moment is the publication of a book divided into two parts. First is the actualisation of the G5 theory and areas, and the second part presents examples reported by teachers, related to individual cases, classes and schools. The materials used are based on three years experience of the programme in the Basque country.
The second objective is the publication of scientific papers on the impact evaluation. The authors are working on this phase at present (November 2015).
In order to ensure sustainability, government support is needed. To carry on the implementation of the G5 project, resources are necessary, especially personnel: counsellors and professionals to provide on-going support to teachers. This is an economic problem, as in Palestine. Despite the success of the programme, the lack of funding caused the project to end after two years of implementation.
What are the main learning points?
The Golden5 is an easy programme to implement; the main problem has been a lack of support from educational authorities. Once the project starts, there is a need for professionals to support teachers’ work – to monitor them, record experiences and give extra activities to help them to change the way that they perceive students’ development and general education.
Initially, it was assumed that this role would be developed by school counsellors. However, at least in Spain, this is not the case as the counsellor’s role is more focused on particular students than on teachers.
The most important learning point is the need to have more personnel at schools especially to support teachers. Golden5 targets teachers and general classes, and this appears to be the weakest point in the educational system, where more resources are directed towards students with problems rather than towards teacher support.
However, Stavanger, Norway, has succeeded in building up a resource centre, to work with mainstream schools, supporting both individual pupils and whole schools.
They underline the importance of someone outside the schools being available to follow up with teachers and support implementation. Support for the process from the head-teacher of the school is also of great importance, as is allocation of time. The counsellors must also have a certain status at the schools – and relevant experience of working with and motivating students.
Are there further information about supporting materials?
2012 Palestine schools and students (pictures/ video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk-PJMXthlY
Journal article (Spanish): http://periodismohumano.com/cooperacion/una-mirada-brillante-para-transformar-palestina.html
Teachers and students in the West Bank: https://public.tableau.com/profile/mjl5707#!/vizhome/wb_2/burbujas
2008 Golden5 impact evaluation: http://www.golden5.org/golden5/?q=en/node/78
2008 Golden5 external evaluation: http://www.golden5.org/golden5/golden5/resultados/ExternalEvaluation.pdf
2007 Golden5 pilot evaluation: http://www.golden5.org/golden5/?q=en/node/77
2015 Basque country
2015 Poland (Meltis association): http://golden5.metis.pl/
2009 Golden5 project award in Prague by European Education Commission: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-09-714_en.htm
2009 Golden5 project selected in the best 10 European best educational practices: http://es.slideshare.net/EUmobilitydocumentation/comenius-11001997 (See page 13)