The old saying around Sydney is that once the jacarandas are in bloom, it is too late to start studying. Exams already are upon you. We hope that all students have been able to shine to their best measure during these assessments. They form an important part of process to assist students to grow in confidence about their learning capacity. Examinations are somewhat out of vogue in education circles, but I remain an enthusiast for their importance (if they are balanced by a wider range of assessment measures). Examinations are part of a wide range of feedback measures schools provide to students and their families.
The importance of feedback
Feedback is really important to student learning. For more on this topic, visit https://www.thegraidenetwork.com/blog-all/importance-of-feedback-student-learning. Yet feedback is a two-way thing. Teachers offer feedback to their students through verbal, written and numerical communication. Students provide feedback to their teachers in much the same way, which also includes the semester Barker QILT (Quality in Learning and Teaching) survey, confidentially provided to each teacher by their students. When treated conscientiously, it is a powerful two-way piece of feedback that helps the teacher understand their impact on their students.
Milestones on a longer journey
The HSC examination period is in in its final week, with most students mostly happy about their examinations most of the time. There have only been a relatively small number of papers that have caused concerns amongst the students and their teachers.
Our Junior School students are polishing their final term of work, preparing themselves for the next challenge.
Our Middle School students have been sitting their annual examinations in the past few days and, judging by the focused and intense minds in the various exam rooms I have visited, our students seem to be well prepared.
Our Year 10 students are also completing their all-important examinations as they complete Stage 5 in their schooling and prepare for Stage 6 studies. Year 11/12 students have begun their HSC year and are working diligently for the long walk that lies ahead of them. These milestones in learning provide students with important feedback on their progress towards flourishing and fully formed maturity, fit to encounter the world Beyond the Mint Gates.
Feedback to the School
Schools also need feedback from families and students. We receive this in several ways, including direct communication from parents and students of a formal and informal nature.
Our annual survey of the Barker community, conducted confidentially by external provider MMG Education, has now arrived in my office and we have begun to explore its findings with Senior Staff.
Behind this data is a plethora of information, some of which has been investigated further through a recent forum of Middle School parents and senior staff.
Whilst the overall pattern of satisfaction at the School is very high, we must constantly address softer areas and look to increase our performance as we serve our students and families
A really good school must be about 5% restless and uncomfortable. We delight in our long history and traditions. Yet, just as we encourage our students we see feedback as a gift to help us be stronger and achieve the changes that bring us more firmly in line with our vision to be leaders in Christian education that inspires global hope. These sentiments must not simply be words – they must be a dynamic, living reality that will withstand the most cynical observer and endure the test of time in a changing world.