Autumn Update from ISEB
By Durell Barnes
01 Oct

It was my privilege to be in touch with numerous heads and senior leaders in schools over the summer and it was a pleasure to see some of the resignation which had begun to creep into our communications during the course of August give way to anticipation and excitement as the beginning of term came into view. There is a real sense in our schools that they are returning to their core purpose with their values reinforced and their communities relishing the new term and the challenges ahead.

We have been pleased at ISEB to play our own part over these difficult months. Many senior schools have now welcomed new pupils from prep schools, with a clear view of what they know, understand and can do in light of their CE results from last term. Many prep schools were able, as a result of going ahead with CE (75% of candidate registrations were maintained), to acknowledge and celebrate what their Year 8 pupils had achieved, often with imaginative approaches to the presentation of certificates. In undertaking a little research for an article to be published in this month’s Independent Schools Magazine (see page 10: The exam which went ahead) it was clear that the value of CE has been particularly appreciated by many pupils, parents and both prep and senior schools for providing a focus to teaching and learning for the term and a sense of achievement at the end.

A key part of our work last term was the delivery of the new CE specifications and we are grateful to those in schools who found time in such a uniquely busy term to respond to our consultation. ISEB is extremely fortunate to be able to draw on the expertise of practitioners in both senior and prep schools in all its activities and I am grateful to all who have continued to make themselves available since March: not just our setting teams, but those who have contributed to the development of the specifications and the project qualification and all who have responded to consultations - not to mention those involved in the administration and marking of examinations.

In common with other organisations, we had to downscale or defer some aspects of our work last term. Not all the pilots for our new ISEB Project Qualification were able to go ahead. However, in undertaking some research with those who did do so, for an article to be published in the next Prep School Magazine (see page 44: ISEB’s New Project Qualification: Intellectual Candy?), we were struck by the pupils’ enjoyment of the autonomy their research had afforded them, their pride at developing an element of expertise and the enthusiasm shared by their teachers at the standard of output and delivery. Senior leaders were confident that the research tasks would prove attractive to pupils and popular with parents.

For practical reasons we held back the consultation on the most appropriate timing for summer 2023 13+ CE examinations under the revised framework.

It is clear that we are living through an unprecedented period of change in the educational landscape but as learning and teaching develop and adapt, ISEB aims to provide tried and tested services which allow for rigour and continuity in our schools and which will develop in consultation with our stakeholders.

Durell Barnes
ISEB Chair

Tags: 13+, 13+ Common Entrance, 13 plus, back to school, Common Entrance, Independent School Examination Board, independent schools, schools

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