In 2003 Ministers of Education and Heads of Governments from across the Commonwealth welcomed our decision
to focus on primary and secondary education and the professional development of teachers.


'Foundations of Teaching for Learning’ is a comprehensive interactive online programme of study primarily for people who are currently teaching but have had no formal education as a teacher. The programme consists of eight MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on the Coursera® platform under the directorship of John MacBeath, Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge, UK. While the programme cannot include direct classroom observation it does provide a complete foundation level teaching course with a wide range of practical tools and strategies that teachers can use. Peer assessment and feedback and forum discussions are an important feature. Experience so far offers strong evidence of enhanced practice as well as enhanced professional thinking.

The programme considers the three domains of being a teacher: Professional Knowledge and Understanding; Professional Practice; and Professional Values, Relationships and Engagement. During the course students learn:

  • The professional roles and responsibilities of a teacher and how to become more effective
  • What research tells us about how students think and behave, and how we can apply this understanding in our approach to teaching
  • How to design instruction, activities and assessments around learning goals and define teacher and student success

In order to take advantage of the wealth of experience to be found across the Commonwealth and prepare a programme that has broad appeal, the instructors have been drawn from key universities and colleges in Australia, Ghana, Canada, Malaysia, the Maldives, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.

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A River of Stories Educational Resource

CET has published a 4-volume set of anthologies featuring stories and poems from across the Commonwealth themed around the four elements of Water, Earth, Air and Fire.

To accompany the books we have developed a comprehensive education resource that encourages pupils to read and respond to the texts. The activities have been designed to demonstrate how the texts can be read, listened to, and viewed for many purposes; and how connections can be made between the different texts as well as from the texts to pupils' lives and experiences.

The resource includes:

  • an overview for teachers explaining the components of the resource
  • themed activities that explore key concepts and cultural perspectives
  • literacy activities for comprehension
  • readers’ theatre activity for students to share a poem or story with others
  • audio recordings of a selection of texts
  • video of contributors talking about their work

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Teaching Caribbean Poetry

In 2013 Routledge published Teaching Caribbean Poetry based on the course jointly devised by the Universities of Cambridge and the West Indies and edited by Professor Beverley Bryan and Professor Morag Styles. The course has been taught in some form in Antigua, Barbados, Cambridge (UK), Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, London (UK), St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago.

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Consulting Pupils Toolkit

A Toolkit for consulting pupils that can be used to inform curriculum development was developed as part of the Centre for Commonwealth Education African Sexual Knowledge and HIV/AIDS project.

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Introduction to interactive teaching and the use of ICT

A professional learning resource for teachers, focussing on interactive teaching and learning - with and without ICT. A key element of this resource is the use of unique video clips illustrating interactive practice (produced in Zambian and South African primary classroom contexts) as a stimulus for discussion.

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African Sexual Knowledge and HIV/AIDS

This project, based in Sub-Saharan Africa, focused on understanding how primary age pupils acquire sexual knowledge, in what contexts and how this relates to the HIV education received in schools. The second phase expanded the research to encompass six countries and used consultation and dialogue with community members and pupils to establish a locally based curriculum development process for HIV education.

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Building Headteachers' Leadership Capacity for Enhancing Quality Teaching and Learning in Ghanaian Basic schools

In collaboration with the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, the Cambridge team tested the applicability of the Leadership for Learning principles, that had been developed over the course of an earlier five year seven country research project, in basic schools in Ghana. Endorsement and support for the programme from the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service helped embed Leadership for Learning principles in national policy and has given impetus to professional development of circuit supervisors (the advisory and quality assurance service), District and Regional Directors.

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Commonwealth Intercultural Arts Network

The CIAN network aims to promote, connect and enable the advancement of intercultural arts practice, research and policy and the reframing of intercultural creativities in education.

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Caribbean Poetry Project

The Caribbean Poetry Project was a pioneering collaboration between the Centre for Commonwealth Education and The University of the West Indies. Through a joint research and teaching programme, the project encouraged engagement with Caribbean poetry and improved the teaching and learning of poetry in both British and Caribbean schools. It collaborated with the online Poetry Archive to put in place recordings of Caribbean poetry as a resource for teachers and learners.

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Introducing digital Open Educational Resources into Zambian primary schools through school-based professional development

This project is a partnership between the Centre for Commonwealth Education and institutions in Zambia. It works with stakeholders from various sectors as a basis for developing methodologies that promise lasting transformation in Zambian primary education. While the project is conducted in Zambia, it is anticipated to be relevant to a wide range of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Key outputs include models for Open Educational Resource adoption in poorly resourced educational systems, and guidance on implementing better learning environments.

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Southern African Poetry Project

The Southern African Poetry Project is a sister project to the pioneering Caribbean Poetry Project. It was launched in 2013 and is based on a collaboration between the Centre for Commonwalth Education at Cambridge and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. It aims to develop research on southern African poetry (in English), and support its teaching in secondary schools in the UK and South Africa.

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The role of ICT in East African schools and teacher education

This programme was a collaboration between the Centre for Commonwealth Education, the University of Calgary and the Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A new Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning Centre has been set up at the Institute of Educational Development and the Faculty’s capacity for integrating ICT into teaching and learning has increased through an extensive programme of supported and sustained professional development.

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UNISA Advanced Diplomas in Education

This is a joint teacher education project between UNISA (University of South Africa) and the Centre for Commonwealth Education to develop 'Advanced Diplomas in Education' in mathematics, science, ICT integration within education and inclusive education.

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