Mr Anstey’s Blog: Winning Formula

Posted: 14th May 2021

Earlier this term Mrs Byers shared her professional and personal experience of the 11+ selection process.  It’s a topic we discuss regularly as a school because, while everyone is rightly thrilled at the pupils’ incredible offers this year, we want to make sure we keep the success rate up but, importantly, the pressure off.  How do we achieve this at Broomfield, a non-selective prep school in which children of all abilities are welcomed?

At the heart, is our values-led education.  Children are encouraged to follow our core principles: to be curious, creative, courageous and kind in everything they do.  These building blocks are complemented by enrichment, clubs and activities that are designed to further enhance our already broad and forward-thinking curriculum.

Alongside this, is our individualised approach to learning.  Sitting steps away from the botanist’s paradise of Kew Gardens, I am inspired by the science of what marginal gains can do for the personalised learning journey of every pupil within the school.

Some of you will know that I enjoy a physical challenge, having most recently completing the 3000-mile Race Across America. This race, billed as the toughest cycle race in the world, required me to look at a whole range of sports performance data to make sure I was prepared for the exceptionally tough conditions.

Through my ventures, I have also learnt about sports performance coaching and Hinsta, whose personalised coaching programmes support highflyers in Formula 1 to the Fortune 500.  I’ve brought this mindset and some of these theories to the classroom in a bid to get the best from the children as individuals.  For example, working out their optimal time and style of learning or what they gain through technology and other tools to help them improve their ‘personal best’.  While not exactly Dave Brailsford’s marginal gains approach, it is designed to help pupils understand how to create an environment in which they can perform at the top of their game, as well as to recognise and work-around any circumstances that could get in the way.  This approach gives the optimal chance of success throughout their education and beyond.

This focus on the individual flows through to the senior school conversations I have with parents, which begin in Year 4 during the Spring Term.  My mantra, and that of Mrs Byers and indeed everyone at Broomfield, is to find the right school for the right child.  And the search for ‘right’ is informed by my respect for data.

When I arrived at Broomfield in August 2020 I embedded regular, modern and accurate tracking to take attainment snapshots, which are used to build personal profiles of each child.  Children are benchmarked nationally and compared to previous Broomfield cohorts, but we also measure individual progress against a child’s own cognitive profile.  I share this with parents and we work in partnership to identify a stretching yet sensible potential portfolio, drawing up a shortlist of best-fit senior schools.

Using this mix of data and personal experience, I seek to guide parents towards good decisions, to offer insight to help in senior school choices and the confidence to believe that a school which offers a great fit for a child is where they will thrive, no matter where it features on the Top Schools lists.  As this year’s brilliant 11+ offers show, it is proving to be Broomfield’s own winning formula.

Mr Anstey

Categories: Academics

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