Message from the Academic Deputy Head – 31st January 2020

Senior School
30 Jan 20

A wide variety of tests and assessments are carried out at SVPS, from regular mini tests that our teachers use as part of their day-to-day practice to check pupils’ understanding, to the annual NFER standardised Verbal and Non Verbal tests that Years 3, 4 and 5 have undertaken this week.  Why do we assess our children? Crucially, these assessments provide teachers and parents with useful information that helps us to understand a child’s learning profile and style, they highlight their strengths and also where they may benefit from consolidation. Indeed, assessment and testing, in the various forms in which it is undertaken, tell us how each child learns and what the next steps need to be, in order to ensure that they continue to make good progress along their individual learning journey.

Regular, but often discreet, assessment and testing helps validate our teachers’ professional judgements, which enables them to confidently report on how each child is making progress, as shown in the grades of your Year 3 to 6 child’s report card. We use professional judgement, in conjunction with formative and summative assessment, to ensure that the curriculum is adjusted, through effective differentiation, ensuring that Stretch and Challenge is provided.  This is called ‘ceiling-less learning’ and at SVPS we are proud to offer all children the opportunity to be challenged and have high expectations for themselves.  This is not only in the academic forum, of course, but in other co-curricular subjects too.

This week, we held a Scholarship Information Drop in Session for the parents of our current Year 5 children.  At this meeting, parents were given the opportunity to chat informally to the relevant Heads of Department (Sport, Music/Choral, Drama, Art and Design, DT) about what the scholarship assessments at SVS entail and how best to support their child, should they wish to consider applying for one (details about scholarships are available on Parent Portal). We also prepare children for scholarship applications to other schools, both in this county and further afield.  Some parents expressed their concerns that their child may be disappointed if they apply and take part in an assessment for a scholarship, but do not receive an offer for one. It is important to remember that when entering for scholarships and some other assessments, such as the Kent Test (11+), that our children are competing against pupils from other schools.  They are then ‘little fish in a big pond’ and we should be mindful of our responsibility to manage their expectations.

Failure, like making mistakes, is how we learn.  It is how quickly we pick ourselves up from disappointment and move on that matters.  Testing, in whatever shape or form, is inevitable throughout our lives, whether in the formal academic sense, emotionally or physically.  At SVPS, we use the Superhoot Learning Powers to promote the skillset our children will need in future years so that they can thrive happily in a challenging world.

As Usain Bolt said,

“If you turn up worrying about how you’re going to perform, you’ve already lost.”

 Tenacious and resilient children are the ‘movers and shakers’ of tomorrow.  They embrace challenge, learn from mistakes and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and understanding.  Like Superhoot, we want our children to fly…