It has been quite a month! Firstly a family wedding, then my youngest child leaving home and moving to Hamilton for football and finally the birth of my fourth grandson last Thursday. Quite a few trips to Hamilton, but exciting times!
I have spent the last couple of days in a Curriculum Think Tank organised by the Ministry. I found it incredibly useful. I particularly enjoyed a piece of educational analysis presented by Dr Jane Gilbert. It really helped me to gain some clarity around some aspects of our experience and to give me language with which to articulate it. Sharing this will take an editorial on its own, so watch this space!
At the think tank it was exciting to be able to have some rigorous discussion and debate with high ranking officials and successful principals known for strong curriculum implementation. A Deputy Secretary for Education gave a very interesting presentation. I found one slide to be of particular interest. This slide showed what data suggests makes a difference to student achievement. There were two factors that appear to make a very big difference. The first one is no surprise - quality teaching and covering the curriculum. However, the second one, which carries equal weight may be a bit of a surprise - being at school, on time, all the time. Important but slightly less impactful in terms of making a difference are the motivation of students and having classroom environments where students can focus and learn. Finally, according to the data, what is still very important but makes a little less of a difference are better educational resources and positive student/teacher relationships. When all of these are displayed, students will be learning well. Though much of this relates to what the school does, there are a couple of aspects that parents have some influence over. The first one is making sure your child is at school every day possible, on time, and with everything he/she needs to have a successful day at school ie - ensuring readiness for learning. The second one relates to the role of parents in motivating children to be active in their learning and to have a positive view of school and learning.
The main thing the think tank did was to confirm how much we are on the right track as a school. Although we can keep improving, our curriculum is based on very solid and future-focused thinking.