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Helga Todd Foundation Partnership with the Commonwealth Education Trust: Upskilling Teachers of Calcutta Rescue

Over the past 2 years, the Helga Todd Foundation has been partnering with us, the Commonwealth Education Trust, to provide teachers in Calcutta Rescue relevant, contextualised professional development through our digital platform, Teach2030. Ananya Chatterjee, School Administrator for the Calcutta Rescue Education Projects, explains the context of Calcutta Rescue in her final, comprehensive report:

‘CR is currently working with 650 slum children, living in 12 slums across North Kolkata. We help them achieve their full potential through education, facilitate their acquiring new skills, and impart in them values that will bring success in their lives and make them honest, productive citizens. Our endeavour is to bring a systemic change by laying groundwork for long-term education of these youngsters. Our education centres are not formal schools, but remedial coaching units providing supplementary education to students of all class levels – from pre-primary, primary, middle- school to secondary school.’

Teachers have met on alternate Saturdays of every month to complete 5 courses: Become a Digital Learner: Using Your Smartphone (Beginner); Practical Active Learning for the Classroom; Planning Lessons to Reach All Learners; Fresh Thinking for Your Classroom; and Growth Mindsets for Teachers and Learners. Teachers complete the TPD both digitally and with the help of on-site Facilitators who provide hands-on demonstrations.

 The Helga Todd Foundation has provided Education Advisors in the UK for the Facilitators to work with. They have provided much support through WhatsApp groups and regular Zoom meetings. Ananya outlines the impact of the entire partnership programme in her final report stating that there are ‘visible outcome(s) of better teaching and interaction in the class.’ These include:

1) ‘Improved attendance in class

2) Board exam results improved and there is no dropout in the higher classes which is very common for our vulnerable students3) Better ASER test results. ASER (Annual status of the Education Report) survey is conducted every year nationwide by PRATHAM to assess the class level of the primary students. Calcutta Rescue conducts the test every year for its own students in the primary class levels (Classes I – IV) 4) Students received scholarships from different organisations for their outstanding results5) Received prestigious Telegraph Award (certificate of appreciation for a school that cares) leaving behind many leading formal schools of Kolkata‘Babita Biswakarma, a teacher at Calcutta Rescue reflects on how the partnership has changed him as a teacher:’For me the “Become a Digital Learner “course from Teach2030 was very useful because I learnt many things like- 

  • correct use of smartphone.
  • new information from digital resource.
  • use of search engines.
  • benefit of audio visual class.
  • staying safe on online.

For me most challenging course was “Growth Mindset for Teachers and Learners”. Before having studied this module, I had some fixed mindset thoughts which was not good for my learners, so its little difficult to convert myself as a fixed mindset teacher to a growth mindset teacher. Now I am a growth mindset teacher with a new and fresh ideas for my all learners.’

Bhaswati Dasgupta also reflects on his learning:

‘The most useful unit in Teach2030 is ‘Growth Mindsets for Teachers and Learners’. I have learned  that growth mindset is very important for a teacher. ‘Growth Mindsets for Teachers and Learners’ is providing me opportunities to reflect on my approach to motivate my students and also for their  learning outcomes. The most challenging unit in Teach2030 was ‘Planning Lesson to Reach All Learners.’ I used to do lesson plan for my classes but after learning this unit I learned to make better lesson plans for my students by using different strategies. I learned to write meaningful learning objectives and plans and begun to experiment with new formative assessment strategies. 


I have applied many new teaching strategies in my classes. They are: No Hands up, Do Now, Stretch it, Active Learning, Digital Learning, Learning by game, Peer Learning etc.
I get lots of benefits after using these techniques in my classes. Students have shown great interest in my class, They eagerly attend their classes. I always try to involve them in various classroom activities and they enjoy a lot. I do rolling dice, passing ball as hands on activity to implement active learning strategies.’

Our thanks must go to Ben Taubman, Trustee for the Helga Todd Foundation, who has implemented the Teach2030 Programme. He has not only worked closely with Alex Starr, Lead Education and Partnership Consultant but provided great support to the partnership.

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