28th February 2018
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education brought to you by Education Advisers...
Putney High School has introduced comment-only marking at key stage 3 to prevent students obsessing over grades and test results and protect pupils’ mental health
A private school in London has abolished grades at key stage 3 to “remove unnecessary levels of stress” and improve pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.
Putney High School decided to scrap grades for Years 7, 8 and 9 after carrying out research that suggested students’ learning improved when teachers used comment-only marking.
The idea was the brainchild of Antony Barton, the school’s head of English. “When a piece of work is handed back, the students’ attention tends to gravitate immediately towards the grade or the letter at the top of the page, and you often hear students saying, ‘What did you get?’
“So I thought, 'Well, let’s just see what would happen if we removed that focus on the students’ positional value and started to focus them much more on the comments themselves.'”
Under a five-month randomised control trial, a Year 7 English class, a Year 8 French class and a Year 9 geography class all introduced comment-only marking.
According to the research report, all three “treatment” classes performed at least as well as the rest of the year group when they were assessed.
The French treatment class was the best-performing class in the subject in the end-of-year exams, “allaying fears that a lack of marks might reduce achievement”, the report states.
But Suzie Longstaff, Putney High’s headmistress, said that the school’s decision to abolish grading at KS3 was settled by the impact on students’ mental health and wellbeing.
“Mental health and pupil wellbeing have to be central to everything we do,” she said. “We want to remove unnecessary levels of stress for children, teachers and parents.”
A top private school has forced seven teenagers, aged 13 and 14, to leave after they were caught with cannabis earlier this term.
Latymer Upper School in west London asked the parents to remove their children, who were all in year 9. The school, whose former pupils include the actor Hugh Grant and the model Lily Cole, has a zero-tolerance attitude to drugs.
The head, David Goodhew, who grew up in a council block next to Grenfell Tower, west London, before studying classics at Oxford, also informed the police.
The move comes amid warnings that drugs are too easily available for teenagers to buy on the internet. The drugs were not found on the school premises.
Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said some schools have more lenient policies.
“In some schools, if a pupil is found to be in possession of a soft drug they might be given a second chance — but would be put on a regime of drugs testing,” he said.
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