Anne Everest - Head's Message 30-11
Each session we decide, through consultation with staff and governors – and through conversations with students and parents – which development aims will be our priority for the year ahead. Our inspection early this year made us focus particularly on classroom practice throughout the school, and in order that we might still match or, preferably, exceed our performance in January 2015, we decided that we would look again at certain aspects of classroom practice during a mock inspection in this autumn term.
We were supported in deciding the parameters of this inspection by the recently published “How Good Is Our School?” (fourth edition). This document sets out the criteria that would be expected of a “very good” classroom performance, which correlates with level five on the six level grading system used by Education Scotland’s inspectors. We aim for the top level in this, as in all areas, but level five seemed a good place to set the bar for minimum performance.
Having agreed aspects of learning and teaching on which we would focus, every member of the senior leadership team – with a bit of help from other senior staff – set out last Tuesday and Wednesday to visit as many classrooms as possible. By the end of the exercise, we hope to have visited every teacher and every student in the school, and we are now in the process of collating those observation results with a view to sharing our findings with governors and parents.
We were impressed by what we met in every classroom. There is always room for improvement – and we are not complacent – but we found eager and engaged learners, inspired and inspiring teaching, active learning with appropriate challenge and skilful questioning (on all sides), along with clear evidence of appropriate differentiation, and a keen pace of learning right the way through from Primary One to Upper Six.
I was lucky enough to visit every class in the Junior School as well as two Advanced Higher history lessons. It was a privilege to witness the work of colleagues and students. I saw primary Five girls mastering rudimentary geometry and Primary One children getting very excited indeed about vowel sounds! It was somewhat surreal to be then transported to nineteenth century Japanese imperialism and the beginnings of twentieth century Soviet War Communism, which are aspects of the two distinct Advanced Higher courses we offer in history.
My senior colleagues found similar examples of excellence in every faculty of the school. It is inspirational to work with such strong professionals and such avid learners. I am grateful to all of them.
Anne C Everest
Head. St George's School for Girls