27 November 2017

Head of Junior School

I would like to welcome the Scotch community to the 2016 academic year. I want to thank the parents who were able to attend the Meeting the Teacher Evening on Wednesday 3 February. As part of my presentation I shared what drives and guides me as an educator and school leader.

My Philosophy of Education

  • All children have an equal right to excellent education
  • Developing strong and effective partnerships with colleagues and parents
  • Developing strong basic skills in our students in an engaging, challenging and differentiated learning environment
  • Consistency in our approach across the Junior School

My philosophy has been developed through my experience in both the UK and Australia. In the UK, I worked in very challenging schools in challenging areas. I saw a great deal on inequitably in terms of the quality of education. I also saw the need for children to be given the best opportunities possible. I learned then, and firmly believe now, that the provision of the best possible education by excellent teachers is the right of all children. I have worked throughout my career to provide that for the students in my schools.

My moral purpose is what drives me each day and is what I aim to achieve as a Head Teacher. I am fortunate to have a staff of outstanding educators to assist me in achieving my goals. My Moral Purpose reads as follows:

To develop an institution that provides outstanding inclusive education for the whole child. To develop strong basic skills, the arts, sport and most importantly developing good, kind, engaged, able young people. To prepare students for their future by developing the skills they will need to compete in a global economy. To develop and empower colleagues to be able to deliver the best educational outcomes for every student.

We have set are goals for this year. They are focused around improving the quality of teaching and learning in the Junior School. They include:

  • To fully embed a transdisciplinary and inclusive approach in our teaching and learning programme.

We will be bring more inquiry learning to our stand-alone areas i.e. maths, and will more effectively link our reading and writing programmes to our units of inquiry (UOI). We will run a combination on direct instruction programmes through the Leveled Literacy Intervention and Extending Mathematical Understanding programmes and in class support. We are reducing the frequency of withdrawal and working towards a more inclusive model for assisting boys with their learning.

  • To continue to use assessment for learning (planning, differentiation, formative assessment, success criteria and plenary) in all teaching and learning activities.

Assessment for learning was a main area of professional development in 2015. We implemented the sharing of specific learning intentions for most lessons and units of work. We develop success criteria for and with the boys so they to knew what they needed to do to succeed in their learning and to demonstrate their understanding. We worked on using effected formative assessment strategies (daily, ongoing assessments) to assist us in tracking the boys' understanding of the concepts we had been covering and to use the information to ensure we differentiated the boys' learning. This was extremely successful. We will be further developing this in 2016. Differentiation will remain a major part of our teaching and learning focus. Ensuing we have the correct level of challenge for all boys.

  • To ensure data is used to inform teaching and learning (differentiation).

We collect a significant amount of data on the boys through the Maths Assessment Interview, Allwell Assessments, Fountas and Pinnell reading assessments, spelling data, writing moderation and pre- and post-tests. We want to make even better use of that data to assist in our programming, grouping and differentiation.

  • To establish Pre-Primary as an example of best practice in early years pedagogy and in the integration of Reggio Emilia and IBO PYP programmes.

Fifteen boys began with us in Pre-Primary last week. Our Pre-Primary programme will follow the Reggio Emilia approach as well as the PYP inquiry based learning in a transdisciplinary model. We will incorporate other examples of best practice i.e. Montessori fine motor skill and mathematics development, to make our Early years an example of best practice in the region.

  • To develop the boys' higher order thinking skills.

We will be looking at the research of Dr Barrie Bennett to develop the boys' higher order thinking skills. The importance of develop higher order think skills is clear. We need our boys to be able to think beyond simple retention and relaying of information. We currently work to develop thinking skills through the PYP approaches to learning. The work we will undertake this year and next will be to assist the boys to think more often at the top levels of Bloom's taxonomy (analysis, synthesis and evaluation). We will do this by looking at our teaching methods and techniques, our questioning and the activities and inquiries we plan. Our goal is to achieve even deeper learning, retention and transfer of knowledge.

  • To further develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

75% of future jobs will need STEM related skills requiring:

◦ Innovate thinkers

◦ Problem solvers

◦ Team players

◦ Collaborators

◦ Creativity

◦ System thinkers

◦ Good communicators

We will provide opportunities for the boys to engage in full day collaborative STEM challenges. This will compliment the work we currently do through STEM activities in existing UOIs and in the introduction of robotics into the Junior School in the past few years. Our work in STEM will improve our transdisciplinary learning, link closely to UOIs and provide boys an opportunity to develop a range of skills in a multi disciplinary challenge.

The video below shows an example of what these activities could look like.

Other developments for 2016:

  • Dianne Rigg Spelling in Year 1 to 3
  • Works Their Way Spelling in Year 4 and 5

Engaging with Parents:

  • Morning Teas - Will continue with the agenda being sent one week in advance.
  • Parent Engagement Workshops -Programme is being finalised but will include:
    • Loose Parts Play. We will be looking at the importance of play in a child's development and working with Emma Lawrence for Natural Play Solutions. Parents will be invited to a morning and evening workshop to play and assist us in writing a policy on play.
    • We will be working with a dietician and sports personality to promote healthy eating amongst boys and to talk with parents.
    • STEM workshop
    • Protective behavior workshop
    • Our regular Keynote speaker evening in May

We appreciate that not all parents will be able to attend PEWs and assemblies due to work commitments. We will be videoing the sessions so parents can view them at home. We also now have the facility for parents to view assemblies through live streaming.

The importance of independent reading

Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988) led one of the most extensive studies of independent reading in which they investigated the relationship of reading time to reading achievement. The study found that the amount of time students spent reading independently was the best predictor of vocabulary development and reading achievement gains.

The research indicates that independent reading is probably the major source of vocabulary acquisition beyond the beginning stages of learning to read. Students who read more can learn the meanings of thousands of new words each year.

Percentile

Independent Reading

Minutes per Day

Words Read

per Year

98

65

4,358,000

90

21.1

1,823,000

80

14.2

1,146,000

70

9.6

622,000

60

6.5

423,000

50

4.6

282,000

40

3.2

200,000

30

1.3

106,000

20

0.7

21,000

10

0.1

8,000

2

0

0

I encourage parents to have their son read for 10 to 20 minutes per evening independently. I also encourage parents to read to and with the son. This quality time invested will have a significant impact on the boys' development.

I am greatly looking forward to the challenges and successes of 2016. I look forward to engaging and learning with you and I wish you all the best for year ahead.

Mr John Stewart

Head of Junior School