Anne Everest - Head's Message 29-01
The experience of being inspected is somewhat like undergoing a dental check-up: most of the pain lies in the anticipation! The patient knows that a visit to the dentist is a good idea to maintain healthy teeth and gums, and the oral examination (especially if no need for fillings or extractions is identified) leaves the examinee with a virtuous after-glow and a sense of well-being.
That last effect may be taking the analogy too far! However, our inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education (Education Scotland) and the associated visit to the Nursery by the Care Inspectorate proved a positive process for all involved. This was an opportunity for us to reflect and report on our professional practice, and for inspectors to observe us in action.
We are used to being challenged: we prepare evidence of our students' progress and we are not complacent about any area of achievement. Our parents and governors have a right to demand the highest quality of learning and teaching for St George's students; and we should expect to have to prove that we are doing a good job. It is for this reason that in Open Forum meetings we want to show parents how the curriculum is designed to flow progressively and coherently from Nursery to Upper 6. The girls here are developing skills and knowledge across a broad curriculum throughout the school, and the education committee (a sub-committee of the school's governing Council) looks with us at each curricular area in turn to check that we are doing what we say we are doing.
The inspectors particularly need to identify a school's capacity for improvement. A learning school is one where reflection and self-evaluation are on-going with a view to continuous improvement. If students and teachers discover that they need to try harder in certain aspects of their study or work, they should do so. Each year we set key priorities for the school so that it may improve further.
We enjoyed the professional dialogue we had with the inspectors. They worked hard to gain a good knowledge of this school over a very short time period: we work hard to maintain and improve standards.
And, in the twenty-first century, with good hygiene and systems in place - and regular visits to the dentist - toothache should be a thing of the past!
Anne C Everest
Head, St George's School for Girls