I’ve been pleased in recent weeks to reestablish the Head Teacher’s Award, a prize we instituted in the autumn of 2018. As Head Teacher, I’m hopeful that our children achieve strong academic results through their hard work and the dedication of their teachers; and it also gives me a lot of pleasure to see their outstanding sporting and artistic achievements, back in the days when competitions and concerts were possible. The Head Teacher’s Award, however, is awarded to those students who contribute to our community through their kindness, helpfulness, their good nature, and who reflect the values of the school; this month’s winners include Berta Beleña in Year 7, Victor Lomas in Year 8 and Yago Castelao in Year 9.We are proud of each of them.
Finally, I’d like to share some thoughts with you on a pedagogical subject regarding the way students learn and are assessed. One area we have been quietly working in the last few years is the concept of “interleaving”. The idea here is that in a traditional curriculum model, where students study one distinct topic, complete it and are assessed on it, before moving on to the next topic, has its strengths but also its weaknesses. All knowledge is at base related and interconnected, and all skills likewise. Interleaving is the idea of spacing out study and practice in installments and allowing time to elapse between them; with short but regular “catch-up” quizzes and varied practice, whereby students move from one activity to the next without exhausting or fully completing either. The aim is to allow learners to reach beyond rote learning and memorization to the higher level conceptual skills, while reinforcing concepts already learned by progressively building on them in each new test the children face.
From September, we will be taking these ideas a step further by programming regular “cycle tests” in our curriculum model. Once a week, from Year 4 upwards, children will take a short test in a key subject, rotating between key subjects in the curriculum on a four- or five-week cycle. Each cycle test in a subject will include a short recap of material from the previous test, and new material recently studied, encouraging students to understand their learning as a whole and to make connections between different topics. An important amount of our assessment will be conducted in these weekly tests, freeing up more curriculum time for teaching and learning. It’s a slightly different approach to assessment, and one which we hope will bear fruit in the coming years.