Letters from the headteacher
25th April 2018
Welcome back after the Easter break, I hope you all had a lovely holiday. The summer term is promising to be a very busy one; we are looking forward to another fabulous term.
I am writing to keep you informed of a number of updates and changes. We are passionate about continually improving so that we provide the very best for our children. I am very excited about these new tweaks to our working practice that I am confident will have great impact.
In response to the feedback we have received from you we have thoroughly researched the best approaches to homework. Our belief is that it needs to be meaningful and manageable and fully integrated with how we set out learning at Broadstone Middle. As such, during the last half term of this academic year, we will be implementing Retrieval Practice for our homework approach. This has proven to be very effective in improving standards and for us has the added benefit of explicitly developing metacognitive strategies. Retrieval Practice is structured, will provide more consistency for pupils and it will be much easier for parents to support their children.
This approach may require some explanation so we would like to invite you to a meeting on Thursday 17th May at 5pm so that we can explain this process in detail and answer any questions you may have. We will also be putting a video onto our website, so if you are unable to make the meeting all the information will be available so that you can support you child in making this a really meaningful activity. If you would like to attend, please return the reply slip overleaf.
I would also like to inform you about a trial over the next term. There has been a huge amount of research on feedback to pupils and the most effective ways of doing this. Marking books is a particularly ineffective way to give feedback and takes up a disproportionate amount time for teachers compared to the impact it has on learning. Over the next term, we will be trialling different ways of giving feedback to pupils, making them more independent in their learning and as a part of this I will be directing teachers not to mark any books for this period. I want to assure you that all work in books will be viewed and responded to by teachers, just not in written form in the book. Instead, we will give whole class feedback. We will review this in July and will be coming back to you for feedback at this point to gain a parental view. I am aware that this is a significant shift in education culture and can assure you that we have researched this thoroughly. There are now many schools locally and nationally which have already adopted this approach and are reporting particularly positive results.
We pride ourselves on the fact that we are at the forefront of pedagogical improvements as a research lead school and we are always looking to maximise learning opportunities for our children.
As ever please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns or worries.
Mrs D Wilks
4th May 2018
Following on from my letter last week I am aware that some parents may still have concerns around the rationale for reducing teacher marking in books. I thought I would follow up with some additional information which may allay some anxieties.
I have listed a number of blogs below from senior leaders who have implemented this policy into their schools. Blogs are a quicker read and often get succinctly to the point. There are also references to government blogs, reviews and research from the Education Endowment Foundation, Ofsted and the DfE. I have also added a podcast in which Professor Dylan Wiliam sums up the idea of formative assessment. Our new process (Learning intentions based on SOLO taxonomy, clear success criteria, entrance and exit passes) follows this principle.
What we are talking about is FEEDBACK and marking is just one type of feedback. The research shows that there is no real evidence base that marking is effective (read the EEF link). Whereas we know other types of feedback are. I have also included a link to Professor Wiliam’s website to access all of his presentations.
I want to reassure you that pupils WILL receive feedback. We already do this effectively through TIP boxes and these will remain. We already use much more verbal feedback and are experimenting with different ways such as comparative judgement which has a much greater impact on pupils understanding, dialogue and access to texts than the ‘one time, one off’ feedback marking offers.
Again, to be clear, we will be giving pupils feedback to reflect and improve their development, it’s just that we will be focussing on doing this in more and different ways– it will be quicker and more responsive. It will be more formative (informing pupils of things) and less summative (summarising what a pupils has achieved).
Whilst this is new to BMS it is not a new thing, as I said I the last letter there are many local schools using it- Poole High, Ferndown Upper and Magna all use this format for feedback – their results are positive as are their Ofsted gradings.
I also need to confirm that the meeting on the 17th is around retrieval practice (the new way we are planning homework) and not about feedback. I am more than happy to arrange an additional parental meeting to discuss feedback if parents would like one. Please read the links below and if, after reading them, you feel an additional meeting for parents will be helpful for you please let me know.
Please read the links below and if, after reading them, you feel an additional meeting for parents will be helpful for you please let me know.
Alternatively, and as always, if you have any worries please contact me. I am more than happy to talk it through with you. We are passionate about getting it right for our children. We are forward thinking and up to date with current research and want to be sure that we offer the very best opportunities for our children.
Mrs D Wilks
Links to blogs and further information
http://www.podcasts.ox.ac.uk/formative-assessment-confusions-clarifications-and-prospects-consensus (from 48:50 onwards)