From the desk of the Head Master 18 January 2019
We began term with an INSET day with a clear focus on Teaching and Learning.
Mrs Wyatt had organised for us to hear from Craig Barton, a maths teacher who has a decade of being the TES’s Secondary Maths advisor and has built two influential educational websites as well as producing regular podcasts. He was one of the best INSET speakers I have heard, I think because he blended both his thorough knowledge of educational research with reflection on his own practice in the classroom. Much of what he said about the research made a lot of sense and we could see how it could be applicable in our setting. But it was his humility in looking back at his own teaching that struck a chord with me. Craig has recognised that while he thought he was an outstanding teacher early in his career, he sees how much better he could have been and even now, as someone who speaks to other teachers on these training days, he still wants to improve himself as well as share what he has learnt with others.
The attitude of the teaching staff here to ongoing development is not dissimilar. Those of us who are more seasoned professionals recognise the need to reflect upon what we do and consider how we should aim not only to become the best teachers we can be, but also to allow the boys to become the best learners they can be. The action research programme we run here allows teachers to try new things with their classes and then feedback on the outcomes to the rest of the Common Room. It is a virtuous circle that will see us continue to improve on the teaching and learning front, and also continue to improve the day-to-day experience of the boys and their ultimate results.
This term always starts with mock exams for Year 11 and the Upper Sixth in the first week – with marked papers coming back to them this week. It is also the time when the Upper Sixth develop a clear picture of their likely destinations as the responses from the universities come in. Humility is an important virtue in this regard as well, both for those who have earned the top university places – through a lot of hard work and a sprinkle of good luck – and those who have been less fortunate and perhaps had the first major knock-back in their lives. For the two exam year groups in particular, now is the time to overcome any setbacks these weeks may have brought (with the help of their teachers), stiffen the resolve and get back into good routines for the remainder of the year.