Feedback for Learning – A Send-Off for the Examination Students

On Friday, 8th April, the last day before the Easter break, we gave our Grade 12, Grade 10 and Grade 8 students a rousing send-off as they departed for their examinations. In ascending order, Grade 8 students would have their first tastes of an examination hall setting for their Cambridge Checkpoint assessments for mathematics and English. Meanwhile, Grade 10 students began their examination leave for their Cambridge IGCSE’s.

Things were a little more emotional for our Grade 12 students, who enjoyed a slideshow of ‘Then & Now’ organised by Mr. Mills with no little help from their parents and guardians who had sent charming, cute, and sometimes hilarious photographs of our students, their offspring, and tomorrow’s leaders! They then walked out through the Guard of Honour afforded by the whole school down the middle of the Gym, heading for IBDP examinations, Graduation and the Big Wide World. We feel that they are ready to be a success and a credit to themselves, to you and to us.

Given the relationships between final examinations and learning, this seemed like an opportune moment to share a few words with the students about learning, assessment, feedback, and what it’s all for. After all, too often in schools we inadvertently create cultures in which students are far more concerned about test marks (almost always on internal tests that have no value or currency outside of that classroom or that report card) than they are about gaining feedback on what they could do better to improve. We learn far more from making mistakes than from getting things right, but too often test scores are seen as negative and demoralising rather than opportunities to get better. To use the analogy shared during the assembly, there aren’t too many top forward players in world football who worry about all of the penalty kicks they missed in training if they score the goal when it counts in a match. Or, a different analogy posited by a colleague: when we have a blood test at the doctor’s surgery that tells us we are a little iron-deficient, we don’t worry about the fact that we “failed” the test, but instead are glad that we now know how to make our blood better and ourselves healthier.

While such an approach to assessment for learning is our Assessment Policy in the Assessment Handbook (found here), every school in the world suffers from inconsistency to this end, and continually working to create a culture in which students, teachers and school leaders all are more concerned with feedback than marks and grades is something that we are committed to doing until it becomes the very essence of what we do. It is that important if we are to help our students to be as successful as they can be “when it matters” in IGCSE and IBDP examinations, and “when it matters even more” as they, and we, strive to become lifelong learners.

On a related note, we rightly talk a lot about being an inclusive school. This idea that everyone can learn, and everyone has a right to an excellent learning experience in order to fulfil their potential is simply a must and a value in any 21st Century school environment. However, it is often mischaracterised as meaning only that we support students who struggle (the implication being at the expense of the able). This is a fundamental misunderstanding of inclusion and of inquiry-based learning excellence. Inclusion and Differentiation are essential partners in learning – effective teaching is about diagnosing where each individual is at and helping them to take the next steps through targeted and effective feedback, whatever their level. For some, this will be helping them to reach a Level 4; for others, not only to gain a Level 7, but also to gain some significant achievement, to enhance their love of the subject, or to realise that a future in this subject discipline is where they see themselves in twenty years. During this assembly, for this reason, we celebrated the outstanding achievement of four of our IGCSE students from the June 2021 session (this year’s Grade 11) who did outstanding things in those examinations “when it mattered”. Listening to students across the year groups afterwards, the sense of awe and wonder was palpable. Not everyone will gain such achievements in the academics, but, with a dose of inspiration, everyone can certainly learn, make progress, and be the best they can be.

Laura, Maren, Emilia and Annik presenting their Special Awards Certificates.

Cambridge IGCSE June 2021 – Special Awards

Special Commendation – World Literature: Maren S.

Special Commendation – Global Perspectives: Emilia v. W.

Highest Mark in Germany – Biology: Maren S.

Highest Mark in Germany – Chemistry: Annik S.

Highest Mark in Germany – Physics: Annik S.

Highest Mark in Germany – Music: Laura F.

Highest Mark in the World – First Language German: Laura F.

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.