Vicky Ellis, Head of Banstead Prep
How does Banstead Prep quantify success? I strongly believe that success within school is about far more than exam results, it encompasses everything we do. I subscribe to Winston Churchill’s definition of success: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
How are achievements celebrated at your school – both inside and outside the classroom? We focus on the positives and reward the effort pupils demonstrate to achieve, not just the achievement itself. Children are praised throughout each day for academic effort, attainment and conduct. Commendations are awarded for superb pieces of work and also to praise determination, perseverance, thoughtfulness or manners. The whole school comes together for our Friday Celebration Assembly to acknowledge achievements both inside and outside the classroom, award certificates for external accomplishments and to celebrate sporting successes and the weekly house point total.
Are prizes offered to pupils that excel in certain areas? How do you ensure that prize-givings don’t de-incentivise pupils who have not been awarded a prize? At BPS we have a termly prize-giving, which allows for a greater number of pupils to be acknowledged. Prizes and cups are awarded across the whole curriculum, not just for academic subjects, as well as for endeavour and the key characteristics needed to learn and succeed, such as perseverance, resilience and teamwork.
How do you monitor your pupils’ progress and help those who are struggling in certain areas? Across the whole curriculum, pupils’ progress is tracked against key performance indicators. At a glance we know if a child is working towards an objective, working within age related expectations or has mastered a concept and is working at greater depth. Analysis shows us where additional support or intervention is needed and our highly experienced SENCO co-ordinates additional learning support, or works alongside our staff to ensure appropriate support is given in the classroom.
What can be done to ease exam pressure during peak periods? Broad curriculum coverage and excellent quality teaching within the normal school timetable should be adequate preparation for 11+ assessment, but parents can exert further pressure and workload through external tutoring. At BPS we work hard to help parents identify aspirational but realistic school choices – if a child needs a tutor multiple times a week, it’s unlikely that school is the best choice in the long term. We also ensure pupils are able to express their worries through our pastoral system of Form Teachers and supported through our PSHCEE and Life Skills programmes.
Vanessa Coatz, Deputy Head Marlborough House School
How are achievements celebrated at Marlborough House – both inside and outside the classroom? Our annual Prize-giving, weekly assemblies and daily lunchtime notices provide us with regular opportunities to reward children for their successes in front of their peer-groups. We have a ‘Good Marks’ system and the always popular ‘Star of the Week’ for our younger pupils. Our weekly Bulletin, which goes to all families, carries news of achievements of current and past pupils and in addition we publicise the children’s charity work and community activities via the local press.
Are prizes offered to pupils that excel in certain areas? How do you ensure that prize-givings don’t de-incentivise pupils who have not been awarded a prize? We believe in recognising excellence in all its guises across every area of school life. For example, in assemblies, we not only celebrate academic and sporting achievements, but we also recognise children for being their ‘best selves’. This can range from good citizenship and resilience in learning to simply demonstrating kindness and consideration for others.
How do you monitor your pupils’ progress and help those who are struggling in certain areas? The size of our school enables us to get to know our children very well. Regular assessment, ambitious targets and a weekly meeting where teachers discuss children’s progress enable us to continue to personalise their learning and identify where further support might be needed, whether that’s emotionally or academically.
What can be done to ease exam pressure during peak periods? We encourage our children to recognise that all aspects of their character are important and exams are just a part of life, not life itself. We offer a broad and exciting curriculum with many opportunities for the children to shine and excel, and with the support of our dedicated staff, they clearly do.
Mark London, Head of Marketing at ACS International Schools
How are achievements celebrated at ACS – both inside and outside the classroom? ACS International Schools has two campuses in Surrey, at Cobham and Egham, and student successes are celebrated within and beyond the classroom.
This summer our senior students, aged 17-18, celebrated their final year at school with a graduation ceremony. As well as congratulating them on all their hard work throughout the year, we also recognised a number of outstanding contributions to school life.
The school’s Founders’ Award was presented to Morgan Peterson at ACS Cobham for excellent academic achievement and involvement in school life, whilst ACS Egham International Baccalaureate Art student, Julia Worden, received the High School Student Council Art Appreciation Award for her piece ‘All Things Are Possible’.
Last year, ACS Egham also recognised the fundraising successes of students involved in the school’s Project Nepal, who raised over £15,000 to support a Nepalese community. ACS Cobham recently honoured its athletics teams which reigned victorious at the International School Sports Tournament, competing against 75 other students from across Europe.
How do you monitor your pupils’ progress and help those who are struggling in certain areas? Across our schools we are using some pretty advanced data analysis to measure and track students’ progress. Data can be evaluated by year group, class, and subject, for example, and helps teachers to see which students are performing beyond expectation, and which ones may be struggling. It also helps teachers and students set appropriate goals for future development.
Dedicated counsellors are also assigned to each year group – Lower, Middle and High School. Counsellors work closely with class teachers, heads of department and parents to support students academically and emotionally.
Every counsellor runs an open door policy for students, ready to talk about any concerns from academic, coping with personal issues to planning for their educational futures. In High School, there are additional specialist university advisors, who are able to assist students in their UK and worldwide university applications.
ACS Cobham also offers an enrichment programme, designed for students who require an additional level of challenge to enable them to reach their full potential. If parents would like to find out more about how we support student learning, they can visit us at one of our open days – acs-schools.com/opendays.
What can be done to ease exam pressure during peak periods? The exam period can be a challenging time for students and our counsellors practise mindfulness with students to combat exam anxiety. Through simple breathing exercises and meditation, mindfulness training gives students the tools to remain calm, sustain their attention and stay focused – all essential exam skills.
The ‘Five Senses Drill’ is one of our students’ favourite mindfulness exercises, it’s a simple three-minute breathing exercise and easy to remember in the heat of the moment. After two deep breaths, meditators silently note three things they see, hear, feel and note what they smell and taste before finishing with two more deep breaths. The drill is designed to help panic-stricken students focus on their immediate surroundings and keep calm in the event of an exam stumbling block.
Our counsellors also work with students to develop crucial time management skills, helping them to establish their own revision schedule and hone a crucial life skill.
Vicky Ellis, Head of Banstead Prep School
Vanessa Coatz, Deputy Head, Marlborough House School
Mark London, Head of Marketing, ACS International Schools
You may also like
The team here has a look getting Children into Reading...
To mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, John Graham-Hart explains how his own personal experience of retracing his uncle's combat footsteps has allowed him to piece together a remarkable story and thus keep his memory...
It seems that only minutes after starting secondary school, students are making their GCSE choices; and halfway through their big exam year, they are planning for A-levels and beyond. Lesley Finlay looks into this knotty subject...