I have always believed that intelligence is not fixed and that every child, given a variety of opportunities and the right environment, can achieve and flourish. Support and challenge at school and at home are fundamental in this, as is feeling safe to try and fail, then try again.
The danger in today’s world is that schools can become so time-pressured and target-driven that they don’t allow time for learning to become embedded, for children to practise new skills and to try out new ideas, or for children just to be children. I want us to make sure this doesn’t happen at Stormont. The tests we use give a snapshot of what children can do at one moment in time, but are not a rounded assessment – this in-depth knowledge and understanding comes from the teachers who know the girls so well, and who look ahead to what each girl’s next steps should be as well as recording and celebrating what she has achieved. We ask thinking questions, but also allow time for reflection. We talk about and promote courtesy, kindness and respect. We make sure there is time to play, as well as time to work.
Today, I came across two research-based news articles that had me beaming:
“For educational achievement there appears to be little added benefit from attending selective schools”. (from a study published in the journal npj Science of Learning) The research indicated that parental interest and involvement is the significant factor.
“A report by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University [read more here] has shown that attending an independent school in England is associated with the equivalent of two additional years of schooling by the age of 16… It has also been found that independent education is favourable academically at ages four, eight, ten and 16”.
So, it’s official: your girls could not be in a better place!