I am conscious that I am writing to you between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time of profound soul-searching and reflection for the community.
To look retrospectively on what has gone well and what we could do better, and to look forward to plan for a bright future, is also happening in a very different, educational context within the school. Analysing our strengths and areas for development to get to grips with which subjects, staff and students performed well and which could have performed better is an essential part of the school improvement cycle. All staff are also undergoing performance management reviews and are involved in evaluation and development planning for their areas.
While we may be able to measure the outcomes of a student’s academic progress and attainment with ever more sophisticated tools of analysis, the factors which cause him or her to perform well are much subtler and less easy to measure. To what extent was their curiosity piqued in the lessons? Did lessons suit their preferred style of learning? Did their teachers explain topics clearly? Were they were treated with empathy and understanding? Were they given enough time to let off steam? Were they getting enough sleep? Were they worried about home life or friendships? All of these factors and so many more have an impact on their overall success. Our evaluation is not limited to examination results alone: we want to know how well we are preparing students for their future lives which is why we review the quality of both our Kodesh provision and the care, guidance and support they receive from us.
As I have mentioned before, in an attempt to get to reach a closer understanding of what motivates students to perform well, I met with groups of them from each year group and asked them what they thought made for great teaching. At the end of the year, I presented my findings to staff. Students provided many practical and useful ‘top tips’ for teachers but the key message, perhaps unsurprisingly, was that great performance and good behaviour both depend on teachers building positive relationships with students. Empathy is key to everything.
Throughout this year, I am conducting a similar series of interviews with different groups of staff to understand what motivates them to support students to perform well. My aim is to ensure that our resources are used in the best possible way to support staff to have the best possible impact on students.
Gemar chatimah tovah,
Mr A McClusky