Keystone Magazine - Page 26

Interview Q: At Keystone, students are required to board starting from Grade 9. What are the advantages of using the IB programme in the context of a boarding school? A: Using the IB in a boarding context is really good way of getting value out of the programmes. I can think of two things in particular. In the MYP, there is a element called Approaches to Learning that will be extended very soon to all of the IB programmes, including the DP. The Approaches to Learning program categorizes different kinds of learning skills that students need, both academic and life skills, such as organization, collaboration, and self-management skills. It is looking at skills that relate to the whole person. Keystone’s boarding program is the perfect environment for students to explicitly develop life skills in a big way. Because relationships between staff and students will naturally form in the boarding setting, there will be many opportunities for staff to work together with students to identify, practice and develop their skills such as resilience, and resourcefulness. Students will have to learn collaboration skills; they will need to learn how to get along with people, work together with people in teams, and resolve conflicts. We cannot assume that students will pick these skills up themselves. So we will look at these skills quite openly with our students. There is the expectation that students will have a strong sense of community in our boarding setting, so students will also have many opportunities to take on service initiatives within the Keystone or local communities, or use the facilities to engage in looking at health issues or sports programs, even things like research skills, more practical academic skills. Students, through boarding, will have access to the library and all of the facilities at Keystone to develop these skills. Q: Test scores and university acceptance rates, especially those to elite schools, are major standards used to measure the success of a high school teacher in China. Chinese parents also strongly value these two indicators. As Head of High School for Keystone Academy, will you use these two standards to measure the success of the teaching staff? A: It is the fundamental responsibility of any school to make sure that student learning is as good as it can possibly be. Assessment takes a lot of different forms, but all of it is aimed at how much the student is actually learning. How good are they are at whatever that learning is? So all test scores are really important. 24 The Keystone Magazine “There is also the expectation that students will have a strong sense of community in our boarding setting.” It is very easy to go to test scores at the end of the program and start to look at those, but it is too late then; you cannot go back and change them. What one has to do is to look at student achievement much earlier. As a school, we must always look at how we can get these students to learn best. The IB programme is very much focused on assessment for learning, which means using assessment to inform planning so that students can then learn better in the future. Teachers have to be very skilled in looking at assessment and delivering and then analyzing how students do. They should be able to explain how they have looked at the evidence of their assessments of student learning and how they are using that evidence to then inform them of what they will do with the students so that they can move on and do better next time. The school is accountable for ensuring that all teachers know how and are going through this process. If we do this effectively all of the way through we end up with students who perform as well as they possibly can in whatever exams they take. Gillian Ashworth speaking to the Leadership Team about her publication