From the Headmaster
Rossall outperforms value-added expectations for UK independent schools
Much that serves to set Rossall apart as an outstanding School community defies quantitative measurement. The intellectual and cultural dynamic within serves to determine educational outcomes as much as the high quality of teaching and learning that takes place in the classroom. Indeed, hardwiring aspiration into the heart of a School is as important as ensuring the provision of outstanding learning opportunities. Ultimately, our children deserve for us to share in their dreams and to support, encourage, guide and inspire them in equal measure. In any case, outcomes are determined by attitude as much as aptitude. Young people excel in environments which encourage them to strive for excellence.
Personally, I have never worked in an academically selective school and nor do I have any desire to do so. School education should be inclusive and accessible. As a history teacher, I have never even had the experience of teaching a class that has been composed of children of a particular ability. Those choosing history GCSE or A level do so because they are interested in the subject and that is as good a starting point as any. The proudest moments in my career have often come from the knowledge that students are achieving well beyond their own expectations. The ‘B’ grade achieved at GCSE History by the boy who entered Year 10 with crushingly low self-esteem and a sense that writing exam style answers was beyond them is worth celebrating just as much as the student who achieves an A*.
Regular baseline testing of children throughout their school careers allows us to gauge whether or not we, as a school have added value to a particular cohort. It allows us to measure how we are doing as a School in comparison with other independent schools within the UK. We are competitive and it matters to me that we outperform our regional and national competitors in this most important of considerations. Here at Rossall, we use the baseline testing and data provided by Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM). Children sit adaptive baseline tests in Year 7 and Year 9 which inform us of ‘likely’ outcomes at GCSE. More importantly, the profile which CEM data provides for each student enables us to personalise teaching to ensure that we are responsive to each child’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of their skills for learning. The data resulting from such testing certainly enables us to identify when a child is most likely performing below their true potential. However, we never use the data to limit expectations for a child. At best, the results are indicative of aptitude at a specific moment in time rather than an accurate measure of future potential. In any case, our ambition is to ensure that all of our students exceed the target grades that CEMs provides.
Despite its obvious limitations, baseline data is a useful tool for schools and teachers. More often than not, such data stimulates the beginning of a conversation rather than providing any definitive answers. There are many reasons why children underperform which are not necessarily dependent upon what is occurring in the classroom. For example, adolescents are often affected by social and emotional issues which serve to weaken motivation or soften aspirations. If we want children to flourish then a holistic and child centred approach which gives full consideration to every aspect of their well-being is absolutely essential. Academic baseline data prompts us to ask smart questions and ensure that we are proactive in terms of the provision that we put in place for each child.
The good news is that Rossall routinely adds academic value in terms of our A level, GCSE, and IBDP results. Last year’s results were outstanding with 48% of entries at A level achieving an A*/A. The IB average of 34 points places us firmly amongst the premier league of IBDP schools within the UK. This is all very pleasing but one could conclude that these results are due to students joining the Sixth Form with a higher level of attainment than was perhaps previously the case. Alternatively, these results, which serve to distinguish Rossall as a centre of excellence in the North West, could be the result of outstanding teaching and learning and an aspirant dynamic within our Sixth Form community. The fact that a majority of Rossallians now proceed to top universities (both nationally and internationally) is not just attributable to their academic performance; it is because we build their confidence and support their dreams. A Rosall education is an enabling and affirmative journey of self-discovery. The distance travelled in terms of personal growth whilst at Rossall is quite simply phenomenal and children leave us as confident young men and women, eager to take their place in the world.
Importantly, analysis of last year’s results tells us something quite remarkable and serves to evidence the high quality of learning taking place even during lockdown.
In 2020, our Upper Sixth Form A Level students achieved, on average, at least half a grade higher (in all of their A level subjects) than they would have done if they had been students at other UK independent schools). IB students fared just as well.
This means that in comparison to Sixth Formers at independent schools across the UK, those at Rossall consistently and significantly outperformed their contemporaries.
This is something that we should celebrate more emphatically because it bears testimony to the quality of teaching and learning taking place here in School. More importantly, it is reassuring to know that we are routinely helping our children to fulfill their true potential AND we are evidently doing it much better than the majority of schools – be they private or state.
Of course, the challenge for us is always to keep improving and this means seeking to add even more value – both qualitatively and quantitatively. Sometimes, we can be a little modest as a school. When I first arrived at Rossall, people muttered about the school being a ‘hidden gem’. We should never allow the fantastic achievements of this community to be obscured by apologetic shyness. We should shout our successes from the rooftop and celebrate the achievements of our children – not least because it provides a wonderful antidote to the dreary news emanating from our pandemic ridden world.
Well done to our children and well done to our teachers!
Mr Jeremy Quartermain
Headmaster of Rossall School
Message from the Junior Headmaster
The start of the week was officially labelled as Blue Monday, a day where the mood of the nation is supposedly exceptionally low. The start of a working week, a failed resolution, the weather, the dark mornings, and our current lockdown situation surely affect the mood of us all…. but not in the Junior School! The sea of happy faces that appear in our assemblies and virtual classrooms never ceases to make me smile and in the assembly earlier this week, I was delighted to show off my ‘Happy Socks’ – a gift that I gratefully received at Christmas. Not only do their bright colours and patterns make me happy when I put them on, but when others see them, it makes them smile too! Small things can make all the difference as we negotiate our current climate; a pair of socks, a kind comment or gesture, an appreciative word, or an unprompted smile can really cheer someone’s day. Therefore this coming week, I will be challenging all pupils to do just that. Even if they have to do it online or over the phone, I am positive that all our pupils will try to make their friends, teachers and family members smile through their actions!
Our remote learning continues to offer opportunities for the children to learn alongside their classmates and teacher. Learning in the virtual world has its merits and I feel that the balance of time in front of the screen and the activities posted, is a positive one. However, I am aware that children may well move off screened lessons and onto TV, gaming devices or phones. I have today reminded all children that they should endeavour to limit their screen time as much as possible. I am positive that some of the adults in their lives (including myself), could probably do to follow that same advice!
The children continue to produce fabulous work and have adapted brilliantly to remote learning. Dropping in on Zoom meetings and looking at the work that has been produced on Google Classroom, has clearly shown me just how well they are doing; keep up the hard work! Finally, to the parents and family members at home, who are supporting and supervising; a huge thank you for all your help, as the Rossall classroom extends to living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Headmaster of Rossall Junior School
|JUNIOR & NURSERY NEWS
Please click here for this week’s Junior and Nursery Newsletter.
To watch today’s Q&A with the Headmaster, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/RossallSchoolUK/videos/445582483242290
|ASSEMBLY – MONDAY 17TH JANUARY 2021
In this week’s assembly Ms Porovic is in the Rossall Kitchen watching the students cook and bake. There is an update about the animals of Rossall, and Year 12 student, Harry Gordon performs a beautiful piece on the piano. We hope you enjoy.
|DEPUTY HEAD (EXTERNAL RELATIONS)
We are delighted to share with you the news that Stephen Prest has been appointed Deputy Head (External Relations).
Commenting on his appointment, Stephen said: “Rossall is not simply a place but a community and the superb successes that our students enjoy are built on the strength of the relationships between all members of our community. I very much see my role as developing and strengthening those relationships.”
Te read the news piece in full, please visit:
|DONATING OLD UNIFORM TO MALAWI
Enjoy this brief video created by the Rossall Outreach Team to summarise the donating uniform to Malawi project.
We are thrilled to have received more feedback from parents regarding our online learning provision. Thank you to all who have emailed in their comments to us. It is great to see that even during these difficult times, our students are still flourishing.
|FIFA FOOTBALL AWARDS
Congratulations to Millie Bright for earning her place in the FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11 2020. Millie is the Ambassador for our Girls Football Programme and is one of only two English players to have received a World11 place.
|MR SHARPE’S MATHS CHALLENGE
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
Did you manage to solve Mr Sharpe’s puzzle?
The Future is Covered in Chickens
In the year 2035, the chickens have run amok in the grounds of Rossall School, they are everywhere you look!!
One teacher wants to figure out how many chickens there are on the grounds and so one day he heads out and catches 40 of the pecky beasts! He tags them and lets them go.
The next day he along with some of his colleagues catch 250 chickens and find that 5 of them are tagged.
Use this information to estimate the number of chickens which roam the grounds of Rossall in the year 2035.
So last week we were looking at one of many possible futures in which the chickens were taking over Rossall School. This question is of a type common in the GCSE and the topic is called Capture-Recapture.
So 40 out of the total population of chickens were caught, tagged and released. The following day 250 chickens were caught and it was found that 5 of them were tagged. This is a proportion problem and assumes a few things.
This now becomes about equivalent fractions and so we see that, as you multiply 5 by 8 to get the numerator of 40, we would have to multiply 250 by 8 to get an estimate for the Total Population of 2000 chickens!
Earlier I mentioned assumptions and the main one is that none of the tags fall off but you could also argue that the tagged chickens behaved as normal once they were released.
(No chickens were traumatised in any way in the making of this puzzle).
THIS WEEK’S PUZZLE:
This week’s Puzzle (an adaption of a famous puzzle) – A Rope around the Earth
Dave had a dream that he tied a rope around the equator of the Earth. The rope then rose 1m above the ground at every point. Dave then got tangled up in the rope and woke up. Dave shouldn’t eat cheese before bedtime.
If the earth is modelled as a perfect sphere with its equator being 40,000 km long, how much longer would the rope have to be to rise 1m above the equator at all points?
As an extra incentive, the person who emails me the first correct response to this puzzle will be immortalised by featuring in the next puzzle of the week. This offer is open to everyone except the Maths staff! Please email: [email protected]