It’s important to communicate but it’s not just the talking that matters, it’s the listening. Last Tuesday we met with parents of the Puffins class, on Wednesday we held the Prep School Parents Evening and on Thursday, our Sixth Form Information Evening.
If there was a single message to come out of these meetings it was that it is hugely helpful for us as teachers to hear parents’ views.
You can tell us what your children feel about how they are doing at school. It is always good to hear the positives but it is so important also that we hear how things can be improved. Often small changes can make a big difference for a child.
Stoke is so distinctive in its ethos. The positive way children interact with each other and how they respond to staff is a huge part of why it is such a nurturing school.
Listening to our prospective parents who visited on Friday and Saturday for our Open Mornings, it was worth being reminded of just how different children’s experiences of education can be.
A number of our new pupils transfer from state schools with class sizes of up to 32. Our class sizes are often eight to ten and usually never more than 15. In the sixth form, A level groups are typically three to five students.
The time we can give to each child in each lesson is far greater. We can check their understanding more often and can address any individual difficulties in understanding more effectively without the pace becoming too slow.
The discussions we had at our Sixth Form evening brought back memories of my early days in teaching when I worked in sixth form colleges. Usually A level groups were well over 20, so setting and marking an essay was a huge undertaking. To provide each student with high quality feedback would be a full day’s work at the weekend.
By contrast, in groups of three to five students, work can be assessed more frequently and more time can be spent on personal feedback.
This can only be done at a cost and we are very mindful of the sacrifices parents make to send their children to Stoke. It is one reason why we listen so carefully to parent feedback and do all we can to continue to improve the personalised learning experience we offer every child.