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Progress in lockdown – a whole school update

Before the half-term break, I created a Wellbeing blog update.
In this blog, I mentioned the theory of how teams evolve together, written by Bruce Tuckman, 1965.

I teased you by saying that, here at St Peter’s Preparatory School, we did not feel the need to be overly concerned about our pupils’ progress throughout this mixed year of face-to-face teaching and online teaching. As a staff team, we had identified the pupils’ needs quickly once out of lockdown and got on with the job of teaching these kids their 3R’s, as well as ANYTHING fun we could think of!

In the last blog, I even went as far as to say: “…wait until you see the school’s academic progress data this year – it’s truly awesome.” That is what you call confidence!!!

Well, now is the time to put some data to that wild claim and reveal some of our assessment findings for the academic year of 2020-2021.
We have used GL assessments of ‘Progress in English’ and ‘Progress in Maths’ to measure two things:

  1. Pupils’ progress
  2. The children’s individual ability in Maths and English

GL assessments are national tests that help to accurately measure how our Reception to Year 8 pupils are performing in English and Maths and measure both in-year and year on year progress. The results are standardised on over 100,000 children, so the results have a high degree of accuracy and reliability. The tests assess knowledge, understanding and application of each subject, helping us to identify any gaps in learning which we can then address with focused interventions.

We also asked Year 3-8 pupils to sit Verbal Reasoning (VR) and Non Verbal Reasoning (NVR) tests in October 2020. NVR tests give an indicator of your child’s capacity to identify relationships between shapes and patterns using logic, whereas Verbal reasoning tests assess your child’s understanding and comprehension skills.

The overall St Peter’s Preparatory School 2020-2021 Lockdown Progress Story is as follows:

Whole School

  • In September 2020 after the first lockdown and summer holidays we found that 50% of our pupils had made expected progress for both Maths & English.
  • We put many interventions in place and refined our online provision so that, by the time we tested the pupils again in May 2021, we were very pleased to discover that 85% of pupils had made Expected or Higher than expected Progress in English ( with 1/3rd of the children making Higher or Much Higher than expected Progress).
  • In Maths, 79% of pupils made Expected or Higher than expected Progress (again with 1/3rd of the children making Higher or Much Higher than expected Progress).
  • Considering that this Progress score has made no allowance for the lockdown we experienced, with remote schooling for the majority of this Lent term, the fact that, despite these restrictions, the vast majority of our children have made such progress is very impressive and one of which we are very proud. It is a clear indication that our online provision of remote learning was exemplary, allowing our pupils to make the progress that statistically would be expected nationally in a year of ‘normal’ schooling.
  • Those pupils who did not access online learning successfully have found progress has slowed.

 

With parents evenings having happened, or taking place over the next few weeks, feedback and next steps conversations will take place with each family so we all end the year clear of the impacts of the last 15 months.

We end with two last thoughts:

Thought 1 – If your child has finished the academic year and not made the expected or above expected progress this year, or you feel they could have done even better (I predict the whole nation will feel like this), then please do know that there is no need to panic or feel anxious about this. Know in your heart that next year they will make this progress and, likely, more on top as well. You see, you cannot hold children back – they are too clever for that. Progress is a much more complicated process than it first appears and has many more factors at play than first appears, too. All children will have their own progress journey. Your child will be no different. If you require any further conversations or reassurance then contact us and we can break things down further. Do hold onto the truth that: Progress is NOT linear.

 

Thought 2) Plato sums it all up very nicely. Ultimately: ‘Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow’.

If your child has made less than expected progress across this most unprecedented time of schooling, then it is understandable to be disappointed; BUT, try to be happy about the progress steps that they have made. These may only be small steps of progress but they are steps nonetheless.

The GL assessments show only a tiny slither of information about your child and their inherent talents, interests and abilities. Now speak with their Humanities and Music teacher, their Drama and Science teacher, their Sports or Outdoor learning teacher, their Art or Religion & Philosophy teacher or their form tutor, and you will soon see that progress is more than just the data picture. The data picture is purely there for the teachers to ensure progress does not stall for too long before intervention is put in place. The timeframe for this for our pupils is every 12 week. In other words, we constantly review your child’s progress and will be in touch if we are worried. If parents do the same and approach us if you get concerned … then we have ALL bases covered. Ship shape and water tight.

All of our pupils have made enormous progress this year and, in my opinion, they have coped incredibly well in such challenging circumstances. What an incredible place St Peter’s Preparatory School is to be. Well done you kids.

PS. You parents should ABSOLUTELY pat yourselves on the back too. Just under one third of this progress officially belongs to you, the wonderful supportive families of St Peter’s Prep School – The best parent teachers EVER!

 

Mrs Lucy Ball (Deputy Head Teaching and Learning) and Dr. Rowan Evans (Assessment Coordinator)