With schools holding Open days at this time of year, Gavin Horgan, Headmaster at Worksop College, gives advice to parents on how to make sense of an ever-changing education system.
My first point is going to sound alarmingly like homework feedback: stay with me – I promise I’m not trying to induce flashbacks of your own school days! New school qualifications are driven by a desire to raise standards, well done! Sadly the ‘working’ is rushed, only politically motivated and at the expense of our children.
Education is the one thing that we all have in common. It is the one service that we all have direct experience of. It is also the easiest ground for any Government to ‘prove’ that it has made a difference in the relatively short time that it is in office is in education.
With so much policy change, opinion and information swirling around parents when they come to make education choices for their children, it is a tough task.
How do you know that your child’s school is doing a good job, indeed doing their job at all?
Results matter, of course they do, but as an indicator of how well a school is doing, they are useless. What matters is the academic journey that each and every child goes on in their time at school. Where were they when they started and where are they now? New league tables will be an inept attempt to show progress; great intention, terrible execution.
If you are looking at a new school for your child or if you want to know how the current school is really doing, ask them about how they measure progress as a school and in departments. If they can’t or won’t tell you, that is instructive in itself. All teachers in a school but certainly Heads of Departments and above should have a very ready understanding of this data.
You see, there are lots of clever children in the country (though not as many maybe as we parents believe!) and for a clever child to achieve a top grade does not necessarily suggest that there is good teaching going on. If there is a child who statistically should achieve a D at GCSE and they get a C then there is probably good teaching going on.
What honestly matters more to you? That your child is driven to the point of stress or apathy to gain an extra grade at GCSE or that they are happy, healthy, self-motivated learners achieving the best academic results that they can? Results matter: they are the key to the next door, but never at the expense of breadth of opportunity – that is the route map for life.
Like to know more about our approach to teaching and learning, and whether our school could be right for your family? Call us on 01909 537100, come to our open day or fill in your details here and we’ll get in touch at a time to suits you.