Setting out educational ideas for high achieving girls
We started our year with a session with Steve Watson of the Learning Organisation (http://www.tloltd.co.uk/). This was a useful and powerful way of getting into the work that we want to focus on this year. Our school development plan has four strands that we want to develop, and the first of these is to do with ways of stretching girls, giving them opportunities to develop their ability. Research again shows us (for example Carol Dweck in Mindset) that the biggest educational barrier that faces our girls is the fear of not achieving success. I have spoken before in this column about the dangers of having a fixed theory of intelligence: girls being unwilling to engage with challenges and risks in their learning. We want to encourage our girls to want to push the barriers of what they know and have a real engagement with high quality research and achievement. OUr first target, then, is to develop through the school independent and differentiated learning. There are staff who are receiving bursaries to support research into how we can develop this through the school, and we intend to really help our girls to move forward, challenging their comfort zones.
The second area of development is the way in which we will be tracking and supporting girls in their progress, helping them to think about what they need to work on to move forward in their grades and in their potential. We have bought a new system called SISRA to help us in this process. Last year we really wanted to codify and develop the way we marked the girls’ work, and this year we want to move that forward to think of how we report that home and work with it in helping the girls to learn even more effectively.
The third area, appraisal, is very much one where we want to help and support staff to move their careers forward by giving them high level guidance. We have created a series of films to help support and train staff in this, using colleagues and pupils to help us continue to think of ways of making this an outstanding place to work.
Teaching and Learning Support
As you can see we have a need to really organise our teaching and learning work, and to do this we have two groups which we want to develop.
Firstly we have the teaching and learning groups. This is the main, key one, and we’d like to encourage staff and parents with expertise in different areas to get involved. Our current structures look at four areas:
Independent Learning: this thinks of ways to help to develop our pupils working on their own, becoming self disciplined and organised in their time
Differentiation: this looks for ways to help stretch all our girls appropriately for their ability, not just thinking of ways to make maths easier for those who are less able to access it, but also to give top pupils in different subjects challenges to really help them increase their learning
ICT: we have so much material in school and in the wider community; we want to help our girls to make the most of these amazing resources, safely and to the benefit of their learning.
Assessment: how are we helping our pupils to check that they are moving forward in their learning? Can we do this better?
We support these four groups with increasingly enthusiastic and able pupil groups who are determined to help us make this an increasingly outstanding group of learners.