'Making the link between reporting and target setting at school'
Richard Berlie, St Anthony's School for Boys, Hampstead
- Credit: St Anthony's Boys School
One of the lessons learnt by schools during the pandemic was the importance of regular communication between home and school.
Parents, quite rightly, want to know what is happening at school and the rate at which their child is making progress (or not) and how the school is maximising the potential of each pupil. The two areas of focus at St Anthony’s have been, broadly speaking, academic and pastoral.
Many parents will remember the model of end-of-term reports in which teachers reported on their charges sometimes with little more than a sentence reading "could have worked harder". Looking back, I think it fair to say that such reporting should be graded as unsatisfactory. At St Anthony’s, the emphasis is very much on making the link between reporting and target setting and doing so, most importantly, at regular intervals.
Last September the school introduced half-term grades or "learning snapshots" in the core subjects of English, maths and science. The purpose is to report on the extent of a child’s understanding in the topics being taught. This is broken down into the headings of "mastery", "secure", "developing" and "emerging". Every boy from reception through to year 8 is issued with six of these reports throughout the academic year, which enables parents and teachers to get a clear sense of their child’s aptitude - where they are doing well and also areas for development.
Putting in place an academic "flight path" for each pupil throughout their time at the school will also inform decisions about senior school and scholarship applications. Early identification and intervention means problems can be resolved at the earliest opportunity. And of course parents feel fully involved in conversations with nothing coming as a surprise. I think regular reporting also keeps the pupils on their toes too.
St Anthony’s core mission is the education of the "whole child" which emphasises the personal and emotional development of each pupil. In the fast-paced and challenging world of today children do need to develop self-confidence, resilience, strong inter-personal skills that foster friendship and wellbeing and, last but not least, a moral compass.
If a form tutor sees a marked change in the way a child is presenting at school they won’t hesitate in picking up the phone to the parent. Likewise, all parents are issued with the email addresses of every teacher in the school and are encouraged to get in touch with any queries or concerns. Communication is about effective listening as well as messaging, and the culture of the school is one where the views of parents are considered carefully.
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The school recently introduced a weekly newsletter produced each Friday by the form teachers for each year group. The Patton, named after our 19th century founder Richard Patton, summarises the curriculum that week as well as co-curricular activities, trips and achievements. "Notes from the Head" provide an opportunity for me to comment on whole-school matters.
In addition to these changes the school continues to offer two set-piece parents’ evenings and two full written reports each academic year, which should ensure our reporting and communication in 2022 is deemed outstanding.
Richard Berlie is headmaster of St Anthony's School for Boys, Hampstead.