A huge advocate of developing the prosperity and wellbeing of the communities it serves, East Kent College aims to open up a world of possibilities which could lead students into their perfect career. They’re doing this by providing high-quality education, celebrating students’ individuality, and encouraging entrepreneurial spirit. So how does the college facilitate these standards?
We all know that the purpose of formative assessment is to make students aware of the standard of work they are producing, and more importantly, to help them understand how they can improve. Too often, however, assessment becomes just another formality, so entrenched in the system that we forget to stop and think about both its effectiveness and the learner experience. Sometimes, feedback simply does not translate into improvements, and it can be frustrating for everyone involved. How do we resolve this? The answer lies in allowing the student to become an active participant in the process, through anonymously comparing and critiquing an entire cohort of work online.
I must be feeling my age to start with the cliché that “when I was a kid…”, but the modern environment for millennials has vastly evolved from a simpler time of the internet in its infancy, mobile phones the size of bricks (which appear to be back in fashion) topped with an antennae and when buying music was a ritual of sourcing enough change to walk into a store and physically buy a CD with all its glory. Notwithstanding the nostalgia, this period of time still came cloaked with issues of self-esteem, concerns over image, bullying in all its forms, and anxiety to achieve well in school threading all ages together.
In recognition of school’s embracing technology in and out of the classroom on a day-to-day basis, the team at SISRA have been working on a number of improvements to their Observe service for monitoring the quality of teaching and learning. One of the major new features is the Focus Area report, which allows schools to perform detailed analysis of a particular aspect of teaching.
Progress 8 marks one of the biggest shifts in the way we evaluate the success of students and schools. Love it or loathe it, it looks set to stay. And while we recognise that it will take a few years to stop focusing on headline A*- C grades, the need to demonstrate pupil progress across the entire spectrum is now far more important than just being able to shout about exam success.
Terms come and go, and those good intentions to achieve all sorts of goals can easily fall by the wayside as you and your team succumb to a multitude of everyday activities and chores that need to be accomplished if your students are going to get the grades they need. Add to this the all-important planning and marking - which are integral to student success and which make you a more effective practitioner - it seems nigh on impossible to find the time to do anything other than teach, mark, give feedback and report. These are, of course, key elements of our job. However, what about the targets that are going to impact positively on these key elements? When do we get the time to consider these?
The theory of Marginal Learning Gains is inspired by the philosophy that underpinned the extraordinary success of Team GB Cycling at the Beijing and London Olympics and of the Team Sky Pro Cycling Team at the 2012 Tour de France. The philosophy is simple: focus on doing a number of few small things really well. Once you do this, aggregating the gains you make will become part of a bigger impact on learning. For students, for teachers and schools.
Every year I make the attempt to alter my voice to become characters in stories that I read to the class. Every year I try to set the tone for our reading with pictures, lights, and sounds. Every year I some how fall short. I either forget the dialect I originally used, I play the wrong kind of music in the background, or I’m honestly just having an off day.