Progression is key to success in all forms of education and makes for an important element to the education at any effective school. But how is a child's academic development managed, who is responsible for monitoring their progress and can UK guardians help?
During their time at boarding school, children are supported by key staff members, who each play a part in supporting and monitoring academic progress throughout the year.
Teachers play a vital role, using formative assessments, learning probes and other feedback methods during lessons, to inform a student's learning. Gaps in knowledge are often first recognised by teachers, who know their students, their subject and course content extremely well.
Personal tutors collect regular information on progress from their student's teachers, who will alert them to any problems that needs attention. They help students to address problem areas by providing them with additional learning time, tailored support, and allowing them the opportunity to ask questions in a private space away from other peers.
Housemasters and Housemistresses spend many hours with students in the boarding house and are there to take care of them and monitor their wellbeing and general behaviour. Time spent in the boarding house presents an opportunity to identify issues that may impact on a child's studies in the classroom.
Through regular school visits and during host family stays, UK Guardians keep up to date on their student's academic progress. Guardians can help to give parents and school teachers an indication of how students are adapting to education in the UK.
They can also attend Parents' Evenings. These events offer an excellent forum for constructive discussions, helping to ensure students are moving the right direction.
So now we have established the importance of monitoring a student's progress, next lets find out more about the methods used.
Internal and external examinations and assessments help to provide a benchmark for success and offer clear indicators as to whether additional support is needed.
British Educationalist and Professor, Dr. Dylan Wiliams explains; “Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of intended outcomes.”
This important assessment tool helps teachers know how their students are progressing daily and gives them opportunities to provide extra support if needed. Further Techniques such ask "Learning probes," e.g. Questioning and class quizzes help teachers to ascertain whether or not students understand a lesson.
By no means the most popular method among students, research shows that those who are assigned regular homework have a more positive attitude towards school and the subject matter in which they are studying.
Most schools hold at least one Parents' Evening per year. These are designed to ensure that parents are kept up-to-date on their child's progress. One to one meetings during the event allow teachers and parents to discuss and feedback any successes, concerns or issues. Parents' Evenings provide a forum where they can work together to help the child reach their full potential.
To look at how these methods work in practise, we spoke to a selection of UK boarding schools.
This highly academic UK boarding and day school welcomes boys and girls from all over the world every year to study. They use a number of measures to monitor student progress.
"At Concord, we use a number of measures to monitor student progress. On arrival, all students are tested to ensure that we have as complete a picture as possible. This information is then made available to teaching and pastoral staff so that they are aware of the potential of the students they are supporting. During a student’s time at Concord they are tested weekly on a Saturday morning. The results of these tests are monitored closely by teachers, tutors and senior staff so that any problems can be addressed quickly."
This UK independent school operates what they refer to as a ‘Policy for Progress’ which draws on a number of broad areas. The school places high importance on pastoral progress in addition to academic monitoring.
"Academic is of course included but we also focus on personal and pastoral progress, co-curricular progress and staff development. At Godolphin, tutors monitor the involvement and success of pupils and this information is shared with parents. Commendations and Head’s commendations are awarded for particularly outstanding progress in any field."
Kingswood boasts a comprehensive 'future focussed' method, using a mixture of assessments and examinations.
"Our pupils’ academic progress is carefully monitored with annual National Standardised tests of English (PTE), mathematics (PTM) and generalised ability tests measuring verbal and non-verbal ability (CATs) A word-reading standardised test (NGRT) is carried out termly. In addition, teachers administer short internal assessments on a half termly basis to measure attainment in English and maths."
Teacher feedback and parent's evenings reports are readily available via school parent portals. A child's academic tutor will regularly meet with subject teachers and communicate with parents on their child's success or any difficulties that have been identified. Parents may then be invited to attend academic review meetings to discuss things further.
After each check-in meeting and Parents' Evening, a full report is written and uploaded to our parent portal, Blink, for parents to read. Blink allows parents to keep up to date with a timeline of all our communications with their child. Reports, phone calls and even text messages are uploaded so parents really don't miss a thing.