The Bihar government thought students of secondary level should learn English for their futures … BLISS has the best model for Bihar.
State Programme Officer, Bihar
Foreign. Commonwealth and Development Office, Department of Education in Bihar, British Council
To address the needs of teacher educators, teachers, learners and the wider community in Bihar, India, by providing access to high quality teaching and learning materials as well as increased awareness of the value of English for employability.
Bihar is generally seen as a challenging environment to operate in, with difficulties in communications, logistics, as well as climatic extremes delaying activities. There is a lack of schools, inadequate infrastructure and comparatively low levels of teaching skills and learner achievement. There was a need for a sustainable Continuous Professional Development (CPD) system to benefit teachers, learners and the wider community. Using our unique CPD framework, Teaching for Success, along with language assessment tools, we developed a professional development programme designed to meet needs of teachers in the state, helping them to raise attainment levels for students.
BLISS was a collaboration between the British Council, the Department of Education in Bihar and FCDO, which was the principal funder of the project until March 2016.
We undertook a consultative needs analysis, and over the project lifetime consulted with stakeholders to develop our local knowledge to support project delivery. Teacher Educators had the opportunity to take part in national and international conferences and a series of sessions on designing lesson plans, activities for learners’ clubs, and posters for the classroom. A total of 200 selected teacher educators participated in six professional development courses and delivered a contextualised seven-day course to teachers in their districts, reaching almost 2000 teachers.
There is strong evidence of the positive impact of BLISS training on teacher and student behaviour, achieved through a combination of relationship building, sensitivity to local contexts and professionalism – all qualities which are at the heart of our work.
Monitoring and evaluation showed incremental improvements in language proficiency and skills in delivery. It showed 99 per cent of participants described training as being relevant and wanting to apply skills in their classrooms. Teachers had applied classroom techniques learnt from the course. For example, almost 20 per cent more teachers provided a lesson plan compared to the baseline sample, and 21 per cent more produced sequenced lesson content.
We found female teacher educators faced difficulties with travel and residential training, leading to lower participation and gender imbalances in the early stages. We therefore selected more appropriate venues for training that considered participant needs and provided suitable accommodation and services for residential training. As a result, female numbers rose and dropout rates were reduced.
Bihar Language initiative for Secondary Schools (BLISS) formed part of the India English Partnerships programme, which, since 2007, has helped the UK work in partnership with 15 state governments and municipal corporations in India to improve the standards of English language teacher training, teaching and learning at the primary and secondary levels. UK consultants and organisations were commissioned to design the M&E framework, bespoke training materials, two research works and external evaluation throughout the project’s lifetime. This showcased UK expertise and partners in the field of teacher professional development.