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Art: Focus on developing

We are delighted to see our photographic darkroom on the verge of completion and a new and improved Key Stage 3 assessment policy.

Some time ago, whilst we were still at the Primary campus, we got together to discuss the possibility of opening a photographic darkroom. With the introduction of GCSE Photography, we felt that this would make an excellent addition to the department, giving students the opportunity to get some hands on experience processing and creating photographs the old fashioned way. If we understand the literal translation of photography as ‘drawing with light’, we can see how learning to develop their own photographs can really enhance our students’ understanding of photography. This will naturally improve the quality of their digital work also. Our darkroom will be located on floor 5 of the red building of the St Andrews International School Bangkok High School.

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We would also like to introduce a revised approach to the assessment of Key Stage 3 students’ homework. Last year much discussion was held within the art department and with the wider community regarding the effect of awarding grades for art homework. We agreed with many parents’ comments that giving students a grade from A* to E drew the focus away from the skills and techniques that had been employed in their work causing some students to feel demotivated by being given anything other than a top grade. Some students, on the other hand, would become fixated on the grade only and overlook the feedback that was given to them. With this in mind we devised a new system for homework assessment, whereby students are given feedback to highlight areas for development, alongside a descriptor indicating whether the work represents a skill that is beginning, developing, expected, or beyond that which is commensurate with their age. It is these 4 key words that will be given to students, instead of grades. We hope that this will reflect a student’s effort more effectively. For significant pieces of work made over time in class and for reports we will still be awarding A* to E grades.