June 30, 2018
Re: Reflections on the Year
Along with the Vice Principal, Heads of School and Academic Coordinators, I have now had time in which to review our academic results across all three schools. Our analysis has been undertaken to gauge the effectiveness of teaching, as well as finding ways to help boys ‘step’ even more successfully from one year to the next. This has been especially evident in how teachers have handled the Pre C1 group this year as they head toward IGCSE. Another part of the process has been meeting Heads of Department to discuss the unitizing of work and how effectively teaching objectives have been linked with Cambridge outcomes.
On the matter of assessment boys should not expect to find examinations ‘easy’ or ‘laid out before them’; especially with increasing and demanding levels of question analysis and application of knowledge in senior years. The bridge building between Prep and Senior can, therefore, be very challenging for some and evaluations made must focus on areas of improvement as much as adulation. There is a pattern among some schools of hiding this reality behind inflated results that appease parents. Aitchison’s obligation is to challenge boys and deal with the outcomes as fertile grounds for improvement. Despite this cautioning, I am impressed with how well Prep boys have done and what exciting potential we have in the middle years. I am particularly pleased as these results have also come with evidence of greater engagement in school life, which brings its own intangible rewards.
Three basic but important pieces of evidence reassure me that we are managing learning outcomes well. First, boys who have arrived as remote young boarders with very little English have progressed at a rapid rate in their early testing. This means their understanding of the instructional language at school is improving exponentially. Second, boys whose academic abilities are sound have enjoyed the extensions to studies that makes Aitchison a special school. We are committed to adding thought and discussion to core content and improving how we engage boys. Third, the high percentages of A and B grades in all year levels indicates that we are establishing more than mere foundation knowledge. We are developing ‘thinkers.’ Of course, there will be some boys whose results will be a wake-up call and to this end ‘attention and attendance’ are the surest paths to recovery. Regardless, boys mature at different rates and we must be patient, although there is no excuse for poor attendance in the absence of extenuating circumstances.
From all reports the Senior Cambridge examinations have gone very smoothly with no major surprises. H1 seems confident and we, too, are confident that the great majority of H2 will hold their outstanding predicted grades and university offers. I must pay tribute here to the senior teaching staff who have always gone the extra mile. It is impossible for a school to achieve the university offers we have without this being the case. The transitioning M2 to C1 cohort is on-track for IGCSE and will begin C1 well acquainted to what is expected at the early senior level.
A final word on Junior School compels me to say how happy I am with its operation, inclusiveness and excitement. I often walk the corridors and poke my face into classes and only wish my own junior education had been so engaging. Junior staff think of so many ways in which to interest young minds and classrooms are bright and replete with highlighted work and educational promptings. New seating arrangements have broken the old row system in which some boys could hide. It is so essential to encourage a child’s ‘public voice’ and what is more for a child to like his voice. Happy boys are top learners. And on the sports field, I have seen many boys engaged in physical pursuits that will surely guarantee fitness and health in the years ahead.
Summer camps will be held in June/July and interested parents/boys should visit the portals. Together with sport, we are offering several club activities in prep and senior sections. Small charges will apply to all activities. Forms can be downloaded from the College website. All queries and payments should be made direct to the Administration or Bursar’s Office.
Our 1st XI cricket team travelled to England and has returned triumphant. A separate report covers the tour. The brochure for this tour can be seen under ‘News and Events.’
Subject excursions to Turkey and France are also on offer and we wish all boys enjoyable and safe journeys. Interested boys have already received relevant information.
I commend staff and boys on their respective roles in producing the Aitchisonian, Senior Newsletter, ‘Preppy’ and ‘Comet’ Magazines, and the Year Book. Considerable effort has gone into these and each is a fine refection of the remarkable school we enjoy.
I wish all families a continuing safe and happy holiday.