Frequent, constructive and personal communication is an important feature of the Sixth Form at d’Overbroeck’s, both with students and with parents. As the crucial stepping stone to further study and work, one of our most important missions is to foster independence and self-motivation in our students. However, it is a fine balancing act: while they develop the necessary range of strategies to cope on their own, and in order to ensure that they are performing to the very best of their abilities, students need careful monitoring and constructive feedback. We achieve this through a wide range of formal and informal mechanisms.
Feedback in the classroom
The small class sizes at d’Overbroeck’s ensure constant and highly individual assessment and feedback, both formal and informal. Every subject teacher sets assignments in lessons that can be used to give immediate, direct feedback, whether writing a test, constructing a paragraph, producing a presentation, performing an experiment or engaging in a role-playing activity in the garden.
More informally, our interactive lessons give teachers a terrific opportunity to assess students continuously through carefully targeted questions and the discussions that result; equally, they give students the chance to ask for feedback and help whenever they need it.
Homework assignments vary in nature according to subject but all are aimed at expanding the skills, knowledge and understanding students need in exams and beyond, as well as encouraging habits of organisation and independent learning. Feedback is a crucial part of this process, and teachers provide specific written and oral feedback and grades where appropriate. Students can discuss any homework assignment with their teachers at any time, so they should never be left with questions about the nature of a task or how to improve their response to it.
We expect students to take personal responsibility for their homework in the Sixth Form but Directors of Studies will, where this proves necessary, help with planning and organisation and provided regular monitoring.
However, this is never an easy question to answer precisely, because the answer will vary from student to student and from subject to subject – and it will clearly depend on where we are in the academic year. However whatever time of year students should certainly be busy with their studies and matching in independent work the time spent
Students sit a mock exam every term. We and our students take these very seriously and we try to replicate exam conditions as closely as possible: mocks give students an invaluable opportunity to practise their exam skills; and they provide students and staff with accurate information on each student’s progress and exam-readiness. We give students detailed written and verbal feedback on every mock exam, and results are included in reports that go to parents.
Our school reports are detailed, direct and constructive. They tell students and parents in frank terms how students are progressing and what steps they can take to improve. Reports will generally include grades from tests, homework assignments and mock exams, as well as comments on enthusiasm, organisation, development of skills and exam readiness. Students and parents receive three full reports and two short reports a year.
Parents’ Evenings give parents the chance to talk directly to teachers and Directors of Studies; equally, they give us the chance to share achievements, discuss concerns and consult on strategies where needed. We also value them because they allow us to get to know parents and vice versa. There are two Parents’ Evenings in the first year and one in the second.
Ongoing feedback to parents
Reports and Parents’ Evenings should only be a part of the ongoing conversation between parents and staff. We encourage a dialogue with Directors of Studies all the way through a student’s time with us (and often afterwards!). Directors of Studies may themselves ask parents in for a meeting if they develop significant concerns, but neither they nor parents have to wait for a formal meeting: parents and Directors of Studies are typically in regular phone or email contact throughout the year.