At this time of year we are always very busy and quite a lot (but by no means all) of student and teacher focus has been directed at end of year assessments. These different tests and exams specifically measure, record and report on each student's level of achievement in regards to specific learning expectations for their courses of study.
Most of the children have worked very hard throughout the year and these formal assessments are a great way for students and teachers to measure how each child is performing against their targets, and also serve to help the school benchmark attainment against UK and international norms.
Our Year 13 students just recently completed their final IB exams while our Year 11 students have their final IGCSE exams on Friday. Our Year 2 and Year 6 children have been taking their UK SAT tests and our EAL learners have this week sat their FCE/KET/PET exams. Alongside all of these external exams, students in other years have had internally designed tests and exams. These summative assessments are what we refer to as assessment OF learning.
However, it is important to remember that these tests and exams are only a small part of the complex assessment puzzle. Learning is not something that you just finish in June or at the end of a unit of study. It is an on-going process and goes beyond simply “knowing”. Throughout the year teachers have been continually engaged in assessment FOR learning, using tasks, activities and effective questioning for the purpose of determining student progress during a unit or block of learning. Teachers have been using all the information from this continual and live assessment to adjust teaching and learning based upon the needs of the students- to support and challenge each child to achieve their best and to push their skills, knowledge and thinking to deeper levels. Similarly, students have been given valuable feedback on their learning to help them to know what they need to do to get the best out of the learning experiences.
We strive to empower students to be owners of their own learning and so students too have been continually involved in assessment AS learning. This is where the students themselves are supported to use tasks or activities to assess their own attainment and progress, and to further their own learning. Self and peer assessments allows students to reflect on their own learning and identify areas of strength and need, to set their own personal goals and advocate for their own learning.
We are more than just about tests and exams because we want our students to have a growth mind-set and to create a culture where every child wants to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they want to do better. This growth mind-set is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
We want our students to celebrate their successes – their great end of year results and fantastic achievements through the year – but to also know that success comes through hard work and a positive mind-set.
So in the coming weeks we will have Awards Ceremonies to recognise and celebrate significant student achievements but these will not only focus on academic results and outstanding attainment but also highlight students who demonstrate positive mind-set, determined effort and sustained commitment to their learning. We are proud of all our students and what they have achieved this year.
We want them all to to reflect on a year of great learning and recognise how far they have come. But we also want them to have a growth mind-set where they are determined that next year will be even better. We want them to think more, achieve more, and be more.
Niki Meehan, Vice Principal