โรงเรียนลำปลายมาศพัฒนา ได้เปิดทำการเรียนการ สอนในภาคเรียนที่ 1 ปีการศึกษา 2546 เมื่อวันที่ 16 พฤษภาคม 2546 จำนวน 3 ชั้นเรียน ได้แก่ ชั้นอนุบาล 1 ชั้นอนุบาล 2 และชั้นประถมศึกษาปีที่ 1 ได้คัดเลือกเด็กจากเด็กทั่วไปโดยวิธีจับฉลาก นักเรียนที่เข้าเรียนไม่ต้องเสียค่าเล่าเรียน ข้อพิจารณาที่สำคัญคือ ผู้ปกครองต้องพร้อมที่จะให้ความร่วมมือกับโรงเรียนฯ ในการพัฒนาผู้เรียนอย่างเต็มศักยภาพ
ปัจจุบันมูลนิธิลำปลายมาศพัฒนา เป็นผู้ถือใบอนุญาตโรงเรียนฯ และเปิดทำการเรียนการสอนครบ 8 ชั้นเรียน คือ ชั้นอนุบาล 1–2 และชั้นประถมศึกษาปีที่ 1-6 โรงเรียนลำปลายมาศพัฒนาโดยมูลนิธิลำปลายมาศพัฒนา เป็นโรงเรียนเอกชนที่ไม่เก็บค่าเล่าเรียน มีวัตถุประสงค์เพื่อเป็นโรงเรียนตัวอย่าง เริ่มดำเนินการจัดการเรียนการสอนตั้งแต่ปีการศึกษา 2546 ถึงปัจจุบัน ในระดับชั้นอนุบาลและประถมศึกษา มีนักเรียนทั้งหมด 240 คน รับนักเรียนโดยการจับฉลาก โรงเรียนฯ ตั้งอยู่ในพื้นที่ชนบท ตำบลโคกกลาง อำเภอลำปลายมาศ จังหวัดบุรีรัมย์ ซึ่งเป็นหนึ่งในจังหวัดที่มีรายได้เฉลี่ยของประชากรต่ำที่สุดในภาคตะวันออก เฉียงเหนือ นโยบายภาครัฐพรบ.การศึกษาแห่งชาติ และ หลักสูตรแกนกลาง ต่างก็มีเจตนารมณ์ที่จะให้มีการจัดการศึกษาอย่างทั่วถึงและมีคุณภาพ จากการดำเนินการตามเจตนารมณ์ดังกล่าวทำให้มีผู้จบการศึกษาในระดับที่สูง ขึ้น(ผู้จบมัธยมศึกษา ถึง 95 %) แต่ในด้านคุณภาพของผู้เรียนยังไม่ประสบผลสำเร็จเท่าที่ควรโดยเฉพาะในชนบท ส่วนหนึ่งนั้นมาจากครูยังมีกรอบความคิดที่เน้นการสอนความรู้แทนที่จะให้ ความสำคัญของการสอนทักษะกระบวนการเรียนรู้ การจัดการความรู้และ ทักษะการคิด ดังนั้นการเป็นโรงเรียนตัวอย่างอย่างเป็นรูปธรรมทั้งในด้านการพัฒนาหลักสูตร การจัดการเรียนการสอน การพัฒนาครู การทำงานกับผู้ปกครองและชุมชน การจัดการทรัพยากร และ การบริหารจัดการ ให้กับครูและผู้ที่มีหน้าที่จัดการศึกษาจึงมีความจำเป็นอย่างยิ่งต่อการ พัฒนาการศึกษาของประเทศไทย
Lamplaimat Pattana School
There is a real need for such a school. Thailand has made good progress towards achieving the goal of universal primary and secondary education, with 95% of children attending school. However, quality remains a major problem, particularly in rural areas. The Ministry of Education has recently introduced a new national curriculum, which is aligned with modern educational thinking. However, most schools have found it difficult to change their traditional teaching methods to meet the needs of the new curriculum.
Traditionally, Thai schools have focused on accumulation of facts through rote learning. But in today’s world, the problem is not one of too little information but one of too much information. The key skills that are needed are critical thinking skills that allow finding and separating out the relatively small amount of relevant, valid, important information from the huge mass of mostly useless information with which we are continually bombarded. Beyond that, it is important to build skills for imaginative and creative thinking, together with the self-confidence to express that thinking. It is also important to develop positive attitudes and feelings towards learning: it is much more important that children acquire a habit for and love of learning than that they master any particular body of knowledge. Of course, all these higher level skills do depend on a mastery of basic foundational skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic.
In addition to intellectual skills, the school places great emphasis on developing a range of emotional, social and spiritual qualities that help children to lead happy, fulfilling lives and contribute positively to society. It also tries to ensure that children feel connected to and are proud of their local community and its traditions, so as to encourage them to spend their adult lives in the local community, rather than to migrate to Bangkok.
Another key goal of the school is to ensure that all students, without exception, achieve their full potential. Since the school does not practice selective entry, this requires the school to deal with a broad range of physical, intellectual and behavioral problems.
The school aims not just to provide a quality education to its students, but also to serve as an example that can help other schools improve their quality. It tries therefore to avoid use of resources beyond what could be expected from a government school. It also aims to be consistent with Thailand’s national curriculum.
Lamplaimat Pattana School has become well-known in Thailand as one of the country’s leading progressive schools, and has been featured in numerous TV programmes and newspaper articles.Despite its policy of not selecting children based on ability, it achieved the best results of all of Buriram’s 860 schools in the primary-level nationwide standardized tests in 2010, and was in the top 15% of schools nationwide. In an external quality assessment for 2005-2010 by the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment, the school was assessed to be at in the highest level for 13 out of 14 criteria, and at the second highest level for the one other criteria. All children that have graduated from the school, including those with significant learning difficulties, have achieved a satisfactory level of competence in reading, writing and arithmetic.
The school was reviewed by an independent team of educational experts from the Faculty of Education at the University of Tasmania in 2006. The review concluded that Lamplaimat Pattana “is an excellent school, which is achieving and exceeding its stated objectives. It compares favourably with international schools and benchmarks of international best practice drawn from the effective schools literature.”
Non-academic achievements are harder to quantify objectively, but the happy and joyful atmosphere is immediately apparent to any visitor. The school has no problems with bullying, truancy or vandalism, although these are major problems for schools with a similar intake.
During 2009 the school was visited by 400 groups with a total of more 12,000 people, the vast majority being teachers from government schools. Of these, about half participated in multi-day training courses. The school has had visitors from every region, with some visitors travelling more than 20 hours by bus for a half-day visit. In all, about 200 schools have adopted at least some of the ideas that they learned during training courses. A book about the school, written by the headmaster, is in its 8th printing and has sold more than 30,000 copies.
The school’s average total annual expenditure per child in academic year 2009/2010 was 37,000 baht (about US$1230). Remarkably, this is lower than the comparable figure for government schools in Buriram, which is about 43,000 baht.
The school’s approach to teaching uses many ideas from the Teaching for Understanding framework developed by Project Zero at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. However, it also integrates ideas from other methodologies and includes innovations that were developed at the school. The school continually evolves its teaching methods based on its practical experience.Subjects are divided into two main categories. Thai, Mathematics and English are taught separately, because these involve foundational skills, which must be developed with practice. Other subjects are taught using an integrated project-based approach; each class does one project for an entire quarter. The school avoids the use of standard textbooks; instead teachers prepare learning materials precisely tailored to students’ needs. In all subjects, a large proportion of classroom time is spent in collaborative, group activities. The school has an intricate planning process that ensures coverage of the subject matter specified in the national curriculum.
Every day starts with a twenty minute session that is designed to put students in a peaceful, calm, relaxed, contented, positive state of mind, which will maximize their capacity for learning. This session uses a wide range of activities, which are varied during the week, including yoga, meditation, music and story-telling. These activities are also designed to develop the children’s emotional and spiritual side.
The school’s student assessment process is designed to measure the progress of each student towards the school’s educational goals. The school avoids formal exams, except when they are mandated by the government. Multiple choice tests may be an efficient way of measuring a student’s factual knowledge, but they are not a good way of measuring student’s higher-level thinking skills. Instead the school uses a continuous assessment process based on all aspects of the child’s participation in learning activities. Each student’s work is measured using rubrics that include criteria not just for the quality of the result, but also for effort and for working method. The purpose of the student assessment process is to help teachers determine how best to further develop each child and the class as a whole. The school avoids having students feel they are competing against each other, and avoids the idea of passing or failing. The school believes that it can be very damaging to a child’s sense of self-worth for him to feel he has failed.
This illustrates one of the most important tenets underlying the methods used at the school: that each individual child is a human being that has equal value to any other human being. This sounds very abstract but it has pervasive effects on the teaching process. For example, this tenet also underlies the school’s unique approach to discipline. The main principle is to focus on identifying, praising and providing examples of good behavior rather than criticizing bad behaviour. In cases where this is insufficient, teachers calmly, gently and quietly help a misbehaving child understand how his behaviour negatively affects himself and other children, without doing anything that might diminish his sense of self-worth. There are no gold stars or black marks; there is no unreasoning appeal to authority (“do this because I say so”).
On average, about one child every two years has severe learning difficulties. The school provides these children with the extra support they need, while separating them as little as possible from the other children. The school has a senior teacher whose main job function is to provide this support. She works with the form teacher and with the parents to develop an individual plan for each child, which is continually updated according to the child’s progress. This plan involves activities in the classroom, activities after school and activities at home. The school also teaches the children that do not have learning difficulties to help and support the children that do. For example, a child who completed a piece of work quickly would be encouraged to go over and help a child that is having difficulty with it.
Educational quality depends largely on teacher quality. Most teachers join the school with little teaching experience. They typically come from the North-East region, and have an ordinary Thai educational background. Some teachers join with expertise in a particular subject, but with no teaching background at all. Teacher development is therefore absolutely crucial for the school. The core of the school’s approach to teacher development is its organizational culture. There are three important parts.
The first part is a sense of shared purpose. The school has a clear vision about the purpose of education and the goals of the school. It makes sure that teachers fully understand the goals, and tries to make teachers share those goals.
The second part is continuous improvement. The culture is that there is always scope for improvement and innovation, and that this is something that should happen all the time. Teacher development is a basic part of the daily operation of the school, not something reserved for special occasions. Furthermore, all teachers, no matter how senior, are expected to continue to develop professionally. Teachers who have developed strong teaching skills are expected to go on to develop an ability to pass those skills on to others. The school’s salary structure is designed in accordance with this expectation. Initial salary levels are similar to government schools. However, salary increases beyond the cost of living are tied to improvements in teaching ability rather than to seniority.
The third part is teamwork. The nature of teaching creates a tendency for each teacher to work independently. The school’s culture tries to counteract this, encouraging teachers to collaborate in planning their teaching and in developing themselves as teachers. The detailed lesson planning process is one of the key mechanisms for facilitating collaboration between teachers. Teamwork is encouraged by creating a collegial atmosphere: non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, friendly and respectful. Communication is also important: all teachers are expected to know about and take an interest in what other teachers are doing.
The school attaches great importance to developing mutual understanding with the parents. The schools rather unconventional goals make this particularly challenging. The first step is to help parents who are applying for admission to assess whether the school would provide the kind of education that they want for their child. The next step is a compulsory full-day workshop which is held for new parents every year. The school tries hard to understand the individual circumstances of every child; a teacher visits every child’s home during the first year or two.
The school tries to build understanding with parents throughout a child’s time at the school. It strongly encourages parents to take their children to school themselves, so that they have an opportunity to meet and talk to the teachers on daily basis. The teachers also provide a written update to parents at least once a week. There is a meeting of the parents of each class once every two months; one of the main purposes of these meetings is to exchange ideas about the children’s out of school behaviour.
Parents also play an important role in connecting the school with the community. It is not unusual for there to be aspects of community life relevant to student projects where parents have more expertise than teachers. In such cases, the teacher would invite parents to come to the school to share their expertise with the children. For example, if the students are doing a project on rice, it is valuable for them to interact directly with a rice farmer.
Please contact the school if you would like to get involved: for example, if you like to participate in training, join as a teacher or make a donation. In the first instance, please contact the headmaster, Wichian Chaiyabang.