Welcome to the latest eNewsletter
An Introduction from Headmaster, Leo Winkley
STOP PRESS – It was a huge pleasure to accept the award of Independent School of the Year 2020 on behalf of the pupils and staff of Shrewsbury School. At the virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 8th October, the judging panel spoke of the breadth of the pupil experience here and highlighted our vibrant and wide-ranging community outreach programme, for which we also received an award. Fantastic news to share – and fuel for further work in the years to come…
As is customary in week five of the Michaelmas Term, I spent three days at the annual HMC conference. HMC gathers together the Heads of the leading independent schools in UK and overseas. This year the conference was virtual. It covered a range of important and serious issues: diversity and inclusion – a priority area that we are working on this academic year; wellbeing after lock-down; arts education; cross-sector partnerships; organisational learnings from the pandemic.
One of the sessions focused firmly on the experience of the summer 2020 examination session and what learnings might be applied across all schools, both state and independent, and universities. There was a strong sense of opportunity. You may have seen my letter to the Daily Telegraph suggesting that we have a real opportunity to re-think how pupils’ learning and wider skills are assessed. This is a big picture discussion that would need to be held across the width and breadth of education. When GCSEs were invented, the school leaving age was 16. Children in England are assessed by written test more than most others on the planet. As we all know, written tests are not the only measure of a person.
Letter published in the Daily Telegraph
After a summer of examination results carnage, it is timely to challenge the fitness for purpose of GCSEs.
Written examinations are not the only way to assess pupils’ learning; nor do they recognise the aptitudes and skills that parents, educators and employers more obviously value.
A crisis of confidence in the examination system affords a real opportunity to reinvent the way we measure personal development.
Examinations are generally felt to be the fairest way to judge the extent to which content has been consumed and can be regurgitated. Yet any adult would concede that readiness for life is much more than the ability to complete written tests.
Surely human ingenuity can devise ways to recognise the role of character, social skills and collaboration in enhanced life chances.
Why not put more faith in teachers to assess a wide scorecard or aptitudes, rather than a battery of written assessments? Real life is much less controlled than an exam hall.
Of course, there is a need for the assessment of knowledge gained and progress made. This could be better achieved through a blend of written tests, diagnostic interviews and practical problem-solving scenarios that assess the application of learning.
I should emphasise that Shrewsbury pupils do very well indeed on the current diet. Our GCSE results are excellent. We prepare our pupils well and they succeed in these examinations. The point here is that our teaching aims to extends beyond the set curriculum; we aim to explore and instil a true love of learning. Further, character strengths, skills and aptitudes are developed outside the classroom, through sport, music, drama, expressive arts, leadership, enterprise and adventure, to name a few. Learning cross-fertilises and our pupils are recognised and developed not just in the exam hall but across a wide field of activity.
This is what we call ‘whole person education’: the intellective development, which is in part measured by examinations, is allied to active, expressive and reflective learning. The process is about becoming fully human and developing Salopian virtues that will last a lifetime. Please follow this link to the Ethos and Educational Philosophy online flipbook.
Shrewsbury has a long history of asking difficult questions and being willing to challenge the status quo. Is our examination system fair? Can we influence it to be fairer, more holistic, more responsive to the teachers’ knowledge of the children– more fully human. How can we exercise our independence to provide a broad and holistic curriculum? Recent history shows that we are seizing opportunities here: the introduction of the Institute of Leadership and Management Young Leaders Award and the creation of Shrewsbury U, for example. Expect more academic innovation.
More immediately, I can quash any suggestion that we are abandoning GCSEs. We have our eyes firmly on the ball in play. We will continue to monitor discussion on the summer 2021 session and contribute to the broader national debate. But, most importantly, particularly in these current times, our primary focus is on the day-to-day challenges and enjoyment of teaching and learning.
Celebrating the effort, endeavour and enterprise of Salopians - Please follow this link for details of this weeks Floreat
Elation as Shrewsbury School Wins Two Prestigious National Awards
Shrewsbury School is thrilled to be named as the Independent School of the Year 2020 and has received the award for Community Outreach (joint with Longacre School) at a virtual national awards ceremony held on 8 October 2020.
These accolades were awarded at the Independent Schools of Year Awards, where Shrewsbury School was recognised for the positive impact and contributions its pupils and staff have made by working with and supporting communities over the past year, and in addition was recognised as the overall independent school of the year for 2020.
Julie Robinson, CEO of ISC presented the Independent School of the Year Award at the virtual event to Shrewsbury saying Shrewsbury School won the overall award selected from all winners for:
“…outstanding contribution to student experience in their own school and beyond, working tirelessly and positively, changing the lives of their own students, and the lives of people in the much wider community.”
Salopian Wins Gold
Salopian Tim M (SH, V) represented his home club Seeclub Zurich at the Swiss Rowing Championships held in Lucerne from the 18th-20th September.
In the J17 Eights final event Tim's crew put on an impressive performance to lead the field from start to finish to claim gold.
Tim competed in both the J17 Eight event and J17 Doubles event. In the Doubles event he and his partner successfully made it through the heats and semi-finals to take a place in the A final where they came sixth.
Notices to Parents
Exeat School Coaches
All school transport runs as normal at Exeat with just two exceptions.
There will be one outbound London LHR ‘stopping’ coach departing school at 9.15am on Saturday 17th October and one coach inbound from London LHR ‘stopping’ to Shrewsbury departing at 5.00pm from Terminal 2 on Sunday 1st November. Please note, there is no 9.00am inbound service that day.
As ever, all details are available here: https://shrewsbury.fireflycloud.net/coach-bookings