An international school based on the equator is an unusual place to be at Christmas time. Every instinct tells you it should be cold and wintry and yet it looks like a summer's day. In some ways it is difficult to feel that Christmas really is happening. Similarly, just last week we celebrated 27 years of service at the school by Dr Roach. She is an inspiring woman, sharp, resourceful and indomitable: someone to look up to. I imagine she has been like that all her life, and has inspired many as a role model, as she did for me. In many ways, we all need role models in education: the exemplar is powerful, whether it is a piece of work to emulate or a personality to aspire towards.
I am convinced increasingly that children learn best when they can see what it is that they should be producing as an outcome. Yet this approach presents a challenge to any school, because as soon as a target is established implicitly a glass ceiling is created. We want students to grow beyond a target, to aspire towards and surpass their role models. Many of us have read of Carol Dweck's notion of the growth mindset and that permeates our curriculum, pedagogy and assessment tracking.
Here at DCIS we do not want to be limited by targets, but instead to exceed expectations. To that end I know that many of you were delighted at our recent parent consultations to see the high quality of work your children are producing. Of course, the students then act as role models to one another and so the cycle of mutual challenge and encouragement is established and embedded. This is the result of the ambitious teaching and learning programme that we follow here under the leadership of our two Heads of School, Mr John Smith and Ms Kara Lebihan.
So, wherever you are, in winter or summer, I hope you have a great Christmas break and that your new year is full of personal and shared growth.
Dr Neil Hopkin
Dover Court International School