Sometimes it is easy to forget just how important feedback is. I don’t know if you have ever sung on stage or played an instrument in a band but, if you ever have, you will know just how important it is for you to be able to hear what you and the others are playing. Without this feedback you soon find it hard to follow the other players. Indeed, watch rock bands playing on stage and you will see that most of the band members will have an ear-piece in. The bass player will often be listening to the drummer, the singer to the lead guitarist or keyboard player, the lead guitarist to the bassist and so on.
I was reminded of this this morning when I was leading our Friday assembly. For the best part of a year now my assemblies have been live but with no audience. Playing to an empty room is not at all easy for this very reason - there is no feedback. So this morning, for the first time in a year, I had an audience. Okay, they were socially distanced and in bubbles but I had all of our Pre-school, Forms 1 -3 and our Hub children in the Sports Hall with me. And I can’t tell you how amazing it was to have feedback again; I felt the buzz, could see the smiles, could respond to the children’s reactions and could instantly tell if my jokes were hitting the spot.
Of course the same is true of learning and education. High quality and timely feedback has again and again been shown to be one of the most powerful drivers of progress in children. As we enter reporting and parent evening season, it is worth remembering therefore why we place so much importance on feedback - because it enables progress by allowing children to understand how well they have done and what the next steps in their journey must be.
So I am delighted to be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It feels very much as if Spring has sprung; the mornings are lighter, the evenings longer and soon we will have all of our pupils back in the fold where we can more easily give them the feedback that they need to thrive.
John F Gilmour