Academic Deputy Head’s Lines

Senior School
14 Nov 19

One of my roles as Academic Deputy Head is to track our children’s progress to ensure that it is moving on a positive trajectory as they move through the School.  We all know that academic progress is an individual thing.  Making progress relies on a whole range of influencing factors and children make progress at different times and at different rates.  In the past, the focus on results has failed to take into account the mammoth steps the children have sometimes taken on the way to attaining their personal summits, such as in reading and spelling.  Led by the pioneering work of Carol Taylor Fitz-Gibbon, we focus on value-added at SVPS, rather than on results alone.  So, what is value-added?

Value-added is a measure of the progress that pupils have made. It takes into account where each pupil started from and the progress made relative to other, similar pupils.  At SVPS, we look at each child’s results, such as reading ages and spelling ages, to track progress, determine value-added and, therefore, inform teachers’ planning to ensure that every learning task is purposeful and relevant.  Last week, I attended the Governors’ Education Committee Meeting at SVS, giving me the perfect opportunity to report on how pleased we are with our children’s progress.  I was delighted to be able to report that over 70% of our Year 6 children have made ‘significant’ progress with their reading, since starting in the Prep Department.  Indeed, a number of our children have reading ages more than three years ahead of their chronological age!  Of course, every child has made progress, but the ‘significant’ is the value-added that we aim for; it shows where a child has made monumental steps in their learning.  Since the introduction of the Accelerated Reader programme, the incredible success has continued for another year.  Last year, children took and passed over 4400 quizzes, read over 89,000,000 words and 46 children have read more than a million words.  Being a confident reader, we know, is an essential skill; it gives smooth and confident access to other areas of the curriculum.

 Value-added helps our Heads of Departments and teachers to target outcomes by identifying areas where each child needs to focus, sometimes to be stretched and challenged and also where consolidation and reinforcement is needed.  Whatever the academic outcome for a child, the importance should be given to how far they have come on their individual learning journey, from where they started and where they are at key milestones along the way.  When reporting to the Governors’ Education Committee recently, it was clear that we are, indeed, a school where value-added is evident throughout. 

Today was the Year 6 Junior Entrance Examination for SVS.  The children tackled their exams with diligence and determination and they must be congratulated for their efforts.  This was their ‘time to shine’ and each and every child clearly took this opportunity to do just that; well done, Year 6!

Mrs Harrison

Academic Deputy Head