The core advantage of data

June 10, 2022  
Head of Senior School - Mr Nick Hackett

In his book, ‘A Study in Scarlet’ the author of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle states “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data”. Over the last week or two I have found myself reflecting on the process and importance of careful, deliberate information gathering. Whether we’re changing an internet provider, voting in an election, considering a new charity to support, or replacing a living room television, we are all likely to be familiar with the process of gathering as much relevant information as possible before making a crucial decision. The more important that decision is – the more significant the financial commitments, or potential benefits or costs of the decision might be – the more inclined we are to spend time gathering good information to help us reach the right decision.

Throughout this term, a number of Senior School teachers and every Senior School student, have been providing insightful information as we continue our journey to become a Visible Learning School. You may recall from the newsletter piece I wrote last term that Visible Learning is about adopting evidence-based practices in the classroom and working to become more evaluative of our current practices through the collection and response to the data generated by teachers and students each and every day. A leadership group, comprising members of the School Executive and Heads of Department, have designed an action plan that aims to gather actionable evidence and provide a current picture of learning in our classrooms. The information-gathering activities involve teachers visiting classrooms, speaking with students about their learning and feeding back to their colleagues, as well as teachers and school leaders taking part in workshops facilitated by an external consultant, to help identify areas of strength and priority areas that we will focus on going forwards. This week we have surveyed every student in the Senior School to learn more about the extent to which they see themselves as effective learners and their understanding of the role of feedback in their ongoing learning journey. Taken together, these activities will inform significant decisions we make about learning and teaching in the second half of 2022 and will inform elements of our longer term and strategic planning.

In recent weeks, our Year 10 students have been attending seminars lead by subject leaders to learn more about the forty Stage 6 courses offered to our Year 11 and Year 12 students. On Tuesday evening they, and their families, attended an Information Evening which aimed to provide them with as much information as possible about the process involved in selecting Stage 6 subjects, the process of scaling, and the pathways open to them once they finish school at the end of Year 12. After hearing from myself and Mrs Brennan (our Acting Careers Advisor) families were encouraged to engage with Heads of Department and experienced Stage 6 teachers who were on hand to answer any and all questions about their subjects.

On Thursday morning, I met with a handful of students in Year 10 and Year 11 to learn more about their experiences of the TIGS Honours Programme which they attended when they were in Year 7 and 8. Dr Burton, Mrs Hughes and a small team of teachers have been looking to redesign and relaunch this great initiative which aims to stretch and challenge our most able Senior School students in the younger years of the Senior School. Learning from these Honours Programme graduates’ experiences will play a significant role in shaping our renewed approaches which will be rolled out over the coming weeks.


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