Freeing Up Teachers to Learn: a case study of teacher autonomy as a tool for reducing educational inequalities in a Montessori school (FORUM 3)
Author: MARTYN STEINER
A major factor influencing the potential for schools to address inequalities is the freedom that teachers have to reflect and to act to address those inequalities. This article describes how an education system that emphasises the informal and qualitative can leave greater room for teachers to develop themselves and to focus on the direct task of improving learner outcomes. Crucially, such a system can also afford teachers the time to reflect on their practice and upon their students as individuals and thereby direct attention to those who are vulnerable or otherwise in greatest need. This article presents Oxford Montessori Schools as a case study of how teachers who are empowered through autonomy can better provide for the most vulnerable children and thereby reduce social inequalities. The school has created time for teachers through a conscious effort to minimise administrative burdens. This is coupled with the trust afforded to teachers to teach according to their own professional judgement, giving teachers not only the freedom to teach but also to learn, to develop as professionals and to establish a system that works for them.