Pathways towards HOLISTIC LEARNING
February 2016

Pathways towards HOLISTIC LEARNING

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James Neill

James Neill
International Director, GL Education

Every student has some hidden potential, some latent talent unique to him. What is required is to spot and groom that hidden talent. And that is where GL Education techniques play a vital role, writes James Neill, International Director, GL Education, for Elets News Network (ENN)

For over 30 years, GL Education has provided rigorous and high-quality assessments for children’s education, mental health and wellbeing. To ensure our assessments incorporate the very latest thinking and research, we have worked together with numerous distinguished organisations in the UK and abroad, including King’s College London, the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan.

Our portfolio of published tests includes widely-used assessments, such as the Cognitive Abilities Test, 4th Edition (CAT4), the Progress Test Series of as sessments for Maths, English and Science, and the Pupil Attitudes to Self and School (PASS) survey.

At GL Education, we take a 360° view of a pupil’s education, one that will benefi t not only each pupil but also the school as a whole. This is achieved by looking at pupils’ ability and attitudes as well as attainment and progress. In doing so, a complete picture of each pupil can be built, enabling schools to adapt teaching and learning accordingly and realise every student’s potential.

When I am preparing for class observations, parent meetings or discussions with teachers about learners in their classrooms, the fi rst document I reach for is the CAT4 report for the pupil or class concerned. Teachers have their CAT4 reports at the front of their planning folders and the information contained in the reports directly impacts class groupings, planning for personalised learning, further assessment and reporting. CAT4 has been an invaluable tool at our school

– TIM RICHARDSON

Head of Primary School Dubai International Academy

For example, the unique learner profi le produced by CAT4 identifi es a student’s ability in four key areas: verbal, non-verbal, quantitative and spatial. Students with a strong spatial profi le are likely to do well in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, but if this is coupled with a weak verbal score, they may struggle to understand written explanations or questions concerning complex concepts. As a result, their scores in tests of the curriculum may be masking their inherent ability.

By highlighting the distinct areas of ability, the reports from CAT4 make it easier to identify these ‘hard to spot’ students and to put in place the right kind of teaching to allow them to maximise their strengths while simultaneously reinforcing areas that need greater support.

Recently, we’ve noticed that the added value has increased significantly, as has the achievement of lower ability students. There has also been a significant improvement in answering harder questions, such as measurement, which bodes well for the future. Teachers are moving away from telling pupils things, to working with them and getting the children to understand how to solve problems more.

FRANK EADE

Numeracy Specialist, The Cayman Islands

The data from our assessments helps schools to:

  • Deliver personalised teaching and learning
  • Improve student outcomes
  • Manage admissions
  • Communicate with parents
  • Respond to inspections

GL Education is the UK’s leading provider of formative assessments, with teachers in around two-thirds of the UK secondary schools and a third of UK primary schools using our assessments to support learning.

The desire to develop students’ 21st century skills to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive world as well as the visibility of international surveys, such as PISA, has resulted in governments, education ministries and schools around the world to focus very closely on the effectiveness of teaching. The use of data to ensure that each student reaches their full potential is an obvious approach to consider and as a result, our assessments are now being used in international, bilingual and state schools in over 100 countries worldwide.

It gives us credence and credibility, and if children do move to another system elsewhere in the world, that school will be able to recognise the outstanding level they have already achieved.

LYNETH MONTEITH

Acting Chief Education Officer The Cayman Islands

We have worked with leading international schools in the Middle East for many years, especially those following the UK curriculum. However, the introduction of the UAE National Agenda Parameter (NAP) at the start of this academic year has significantly raised awareness of the importance of assessment throughout the Emirates.

The Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) now expects schools to participate in international and external benchmarking assessments on an annual basis – to help provide a more objective picture of student attainment and progress, identify gaps in understanding and tailor teaching accordingly.

As the publishers of CAT4 and the Progress Test Series (PTS) of assessments, which are identified by DSIB as appropriate tools to measure attainment and progress, we have had to react to the demand from senior leaders within schools for advice on how to effectively incorporate assessments into their approach to teaching and learning and for additional CPD for staff to help them to administer and evaluate the tests accordingly.

Thanks to your support with the CAT4 data, we were able to present the inspection team with a very detailed data tracking and monitoring system. This has led to a very successful inspection.

VICE PRINCIPAL

International School, Abu Dhabi

This increased awareness comes at an exciting time for GL Education as we announce the publication of the Cognitive Abilities Test, 4th Edition (CAT4) CBSE Edition. This represents a new standardisation of the internationally respected CAT4 assessment, based on data from thousands of students undertaking the CBSE curriculum in India and the Middle East.

Like the original version of CAT4, the test offers a unique learner profile for each student and delivers detailed, automatic reporting at the individual student and group level, together with summary reports for senior leaders.

The test already provides indicated results for some of the key subjects at Grade X including: English Communicative, Hindi, Mathematics and Science. These indicators can be used by schools to set realistic but challenging target grades for students and help to set a reliable benchmark against which future progress can be measured.

We are continuing to work to expand the range of subjects for which we offer indicators and to extend them to Grade XII. As a result, we are actively recruiting additional schools and school groups to participate in our standardisation studies. Participating schools receive significant discounts on the published tests in return for sharing examination data to contribute to our ongoing development.

We are, therefore, very excited to be part of the ‘World Education Summit 2016’ in Dubai. As a speaker, and with the support of regional school leaders, I am looking forward to reinforcing the importance of assessments to a wide audience. I hope to find new schools, who wish to work with us to further develop our assessments. Most importantly, I am looking forward to meeting as many of the dedicated school leaders at the event as possible, to open a dialogue and explore how our assessments can contribute to your work giving each and every individual student the very best start in life we can provide.

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