We should prepare young people not just for a life of tests, but for the tests of life.  Art Costa

We should prepare young people not just for a life of tests, but for the tests of life.  Art Costa

At this time of year in schools up and down the country children are sitting tests, be they A levels, GCSEs or Key Stage tests in primary schools. Testing as a form of assessment is an important element in education and provides one useful way of assessing a child’s understanding of the objectives that have been studied. Tests, such as selective tests for grammar schools or independent senior schools are used to ascertain the appropriateness of a school for a particular pupil – but they are not in themselves a measure of a pupil’s ability. As we begin to approach the end of the school year we are using tests as one way of measuring the children’s progress since the beginning of the year. Tests are not, however, the only way to measure progress and success; the teacher’s knowledge of the children, formed from their daily interactions with the children, forms a very secure basis on which to assess the children’s achievements and progress.

I wholeheartedly agree with Art Costa’s assertion about the purpose of education. Our aim at St. Michael’s is to prepare children to face the challenges of life and learning with confidence, curiosity, collaboration, creativity, compassion and determination. To do this there needs to be balance in children’s lives where the commitment to achieving the very best that they can be in their academic learning is complemented by activities and experiences that help to shape them as well rounded and caring individuals. Our extensive extra-curricular programme is just one way in which children can access a wide range of activities to enrich their experience of school. Information about extra subjects for next year will be sent out straight after the half term holiday. When you receive this information you will see from the Extra Subjects booklet that there are a few changes this year, and I hope that all children will give serious consideration to getting involved in at least one extra-curricular activity. For budding scientists I am delighted to be able to reintroduce a Science club (F3-F6) into the programme; this new club, which replaces Gardening Club, will focus on a range of scientific activities but will also include elements of gardening at various times of the year. For the budding engineers or designers, I am very pleased to introduce a Lego© Construction Club (F2-F4) where children will be able to work together to build their own Lego© designs. And for the more IT-based designers we are introducing a Tech Club (F3-F4) where children will be able to extend their learning and experience of IT in their normal curriculum. Art Club is taking a break this coming year but we have increased capacity in the Prep Handicraft Club (F3-F6) to allow more children to access this club. We are also looking forward to reintroducing the small groups for Speech and Drama after school; Mrs Thomas will be selecting those children from the large groups for Speech and Drama whom she considers will benefit from the different approach to learning drama in the small groups. Further information about all the clubs and extra subjects can be found in the Extra Subjects booklet which will be published along with the application forms for extra subjects. Please note that applications submitted now for extra subjects are for the 2017-2018 academic year. You should have already received information about music lessons for the next school year. As ever, please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Paterson in the school office with any queries about Extra Subjects.

Whilst also thinking ahead to September I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs Amanda Lawler to the position of Form teacher in Form 5 alongside Mrs Matthews. Mrs Lawler is a very experienced primary school teacher and is currently teaching a Year 6 class at Woodlands School, Brentwood. Mrs Lawler has considerable experience in preparing children for secondary school entrance examinations (including the 11+ test for Grammar Schools) and we are very much looking forward to her joining us in September.

With the half-term holiday upon us, Form 6 have headed off today to Le Touquet for three nights in France. The children, the staff and I are all looking forward to the next few days when I am sure we will all have a wonderful extended weekend which will provide some wonderful memories in years to come and many opportunities now to practise and develop our French skills with the help of Monsieur Domenech.

I am sure that we have all been horrified to learn of the terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday night. Our thoughts and prayers are with those children and young people who were injured and with the families of those who were tragically killed.