School results matter but progress is more important
PUBLISHED: 11:25 21 August 2020
Co-educational Alton School coped exceptionally well through lockdown – the independent Hampshire school saw success with virtual learning and many pupils exceeding expectations not only in their A-level and GCSE examinations but across the whole prep and senior school.
Headmaster Karl Guest explains why the Catholic school, for children aged six months to 18 years, did so well with remote lessons and highlights its ethos that while results matter, progress is more important.
Q: How did Alton School cope during lockdown?
Thanks to technology and the dedication of our staff and pupils we have continued to provide a full curriculum to all pupils to learn from home. Teachers, with the support of our parents have ensured pupils continued to receive a complete education and enhanced pastoral support.
There are a lot of people who have gone above and beyond to keep the wheels in motion. As soon as lockdown happened, we were ready with our Alton@Home remote learning programme - a structured timetable of interactive lessons using Microsoft Teams. After Easter half-term, we started to bring prep school students back and by the end of term all prep school year groups were back. We also brought all our senior years in for sessions towards the end of term.
Q: How successful has virtual learning been?
Very successful. What makes the difference is the direct contact with the teacher, who teaches live during the majority of lessons. Pupils can ask questions and receive immediate answers; students can interact. I am so proud of our pupils who have risen to the challenge and of our teaching staff who have worked tirelessly.
Regardless of what the coming year holds, we are determined to continue with the excellent teaching, whether that be remotely online, face to face in the classroom or a combination of both.
Q: Why do you believe results matter, but progress is more important?
We believe every child has potential and is capable of great things. However, the way you tap into that potential is complex and needs to be applied at an individual level. Results are one way of measuring success, but they can sometimes be a cruel yardstick.
What really matters is the progress that child has made; the way in which we celebrate that and the confidence it brings. Our remarkable success in making the most of every individual’s potential means our pupils regularly achieve far more than they ever dreamed possible.
Q: Tell us about your virtual open events?
We did our first virtual open morning in June using Zoom. The headmaster and deputy head spoke live; there were live staff panels, plus a pre-recorded student panel. We were delighted with the results – and will be repeating it on Saturday, September 26 and Wednesday, October 7.