Friday 12th October 2018

Dear Parents,

Today, Year 6 make a foray over the Channel to support their French studies – we make a dash whilst the borders remain open… allons-y!  I’m sure they will have a wonderful and memorable experience to inspire their learning of language and culture.

On depth and purpose in education, I noted the head of OfSTED (the school’s inspectorate) announcing less value being placed on grade chasing exam results and more emphasis on the actual quality and depth of learning. Good news for the country… for Homefield this is the course we have held for many, many decades, whatever the politicians might have to say.

This week, I represented, as I have for the last few years, all 400-odd IAPS schools at the school exam board. We set the Common Entrance (CE) exam papers for the next year and really challenged the exam writers to consider depth, range and quality across core subjects and into the humanities. Whilst many schools appear to have narrowed focus to simply grind through English and Maths, we want to keep matters broad and deep

All the boys here pursue the wide CE syllabus and it informs our direction right through to the Senior Department (and not just for those who sit CE in Year 8).  In recent years the perceived ‘stress’ of sitting an exam at 13 has been significantly lessened as most senior independent schools around London now view CE simply as a leavers’ certificate, a gold standard denoting great learning and teaching.

However, we now see an increasing pressure on boys expected to sit exams at only 11 years old and for many this doesn’t suit. (PS boys, there is really no point asking me what is coming up on exam papers: I arrange for my memory to be wiped and my draft papers to be shredded… integrity is everything!)

A final word on assessment, we send out senior grade cards next week. They provide a summative view from teachers on progress and attitude across the half term. Do look to praise and do talk about ‘personal best’. It is not about ranking the boys, it is not about who is doing best, it is a tool to encourage reflection and appreciation. 

Finally, thanks to all parents from Early Years and Juniors who have come in for a face-to-face update from teachers this week.

John Towers


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