Now that term is well and truly up and running and any wrinkles seem to have been smoothed out, there is just a little more time to draw breath and reflect upon the inner workings of our school. One of the most important roles of any Headteacher is to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning in the school is of the highest standards.
There is much talk in the press about over-testing and why it is important to reduce pressure on young people. However, I am certain that we are careful in our approach and avoid many of the pitfalls. Our annual round of standardised testing is very low key from a pupil perspective and, because our data is not routinely shared externally, there is no pressure to ‘teach to the test’. The huge benefit is that it allows us to gain a snapshot of each pupil’s progress in Maths and English and also, every other year, to assess their underlying cognitive ability. This data is useful as a snapshot but, more importantly, over the years it builds up into a highly informative picture of a child's academic progress. By tracking this data we can determine where there are problems that we can target through specific intervention. We can also use it to ascertain which sort of senior school might be most suited to each individual.
At the same time as monitoring learning, we have also begun our formal monitoring of teaching. Over the coming months myself, senior staff and, indeed, our teaching colleagues will spend time in classrooms observing each other teach (staff get the uncertain privilege of observing me each Friday when I lead assembly). This is an opportunity for us to observe and share good practice and to be satisfied that we are doing the job that we are commissioned to do.
John F Gilmour