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Boys and Their Voices

A Toowoomba Grammar School teacher has received international acclaim for his research project about educating boys.

Head of Teaching and Learning, Luke Rawle has been recognized by the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC) for his research paper entitled “Boys and Their Voices”, with it rated as one of the top three Action Research projects in the world for 2020.

In fact, the panel was so impressed with Mr Rawle’s work, that he has been invited to be an IBSC Team Leader for Action Research which will see him assisting teachers worldwide with their research projects. He will manage ten international projects every twenty-four months.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” stated Mr Rawle.

“It engages me in best practices for boys’ schools from all around the world and I will be exposed to other teachers who go above and beyond, I get the opportunity to reflect on their learning and teaching practices.”

Action Research requires a teacher to become a researcher in their own classroom by investigating  teaching practices or student learning.  

“A real benefit for me as a Team Leader is that I’m reading their work, engaging their research and generating new ideas that we can implement here at Toowoomba Grammar School.”

This will in turn provide connections and academic advantages for both staff and students at Toowoomba Grammar School, cementing the School as a leader in boys’ education.

But what of Mr Rawle’s ground-breaking study that set this opportunity in motion?

It was a very simple concept that proved extremely effective, students ‘teaching’ students.  His Year 11 History students were tasked with tutoring his Year 8 History students in the specific skills of historical source analysis.

Mr Rawle used interviews, questionnaires and video reflection to determine how this style of ‘peers teaching peers’ impacted the Year 11 students and if it improved their own skills and sense of confidence in historical source analysis.

“I found it had a huge impact to both the Year 11 and Year 8 students,” said Mr Rawle.

“It provided an educational environment of trust and competitiveness both of which encourages boys to do well and I believe there was a significant lift in their academic results.”

Mr Rawle said both age groups saw the tutoring as a ‘safe space’, they were more comfortable to make mistakes and to self-regulate when working with peers compared to adults.

“As a result, it provided them a greater sense of where they were placed with their learning and targeted the specific areas they needed to improve to prepare for their upcoming assessment,” he said.

Whilst his project was measuring self-efficacy, or self-confidence, Mr Rawle said the data suggested that academic results also improved and the boys felt they were performing better. It particularly enhanced the Year 11 students’ skill development which assisted their exams and boosted their results.

It also led to the formation of some great relationships between the older and younger students which has had numerous benefits for pastoral care within the School.

Mr Rawle will present his paper and findings at the 2021 IBSC conference in Spain and at the Queensland History Teachers Association in the next few months.

Although Mr Rawle’s research was focused on History, he is confident this ‘student teaching student’ strategy could be replicated in a number of other subject areas and he is keen to see it implemented in various classes at Toowoomba Grammar School. Just another example of how “Boys and Their Voices” are heard here.