Personalised Learning

A ground-breaking Personalised Learning Programme (PLP) at The Royal School Armagh

Pupils Learn at different speeds. We can attempt to homogenise learning experiences as much as possible but there comes a point where sensitive differentiation will have a significant impact. Pupils are all as different as their DNA! Their own innate intelligence level, motivation and outcomes are unique to them. The Royal School has developed a personalised learning programme which was graded as “outstanding” and “sector-leading”  by the Inspectorate, “innovative” and “ground-breaking” by HMC. It has attracted national recognition and international interest. Great credit must be given to Dr Peter Addis, a member of senior management, whose doctoral research (now patented) laid the impressive ground work for the outworking and effective operationalizing of the five-year project in school. The school is considered to have “smashed open the inside of the The Black Box of assessment brought to the world of education by Paul Black and Dylan William”.

What is it about wasps and closed windows?!

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

Einstein

“Trying harder” is often seen as a solution but “working smarter” is frequently the answer. We have all watched a fly or a wasp continually banging its head repeatedly on a window trying to escape a room when there is an open door through which it could fly if only it could see it only two metres away! The school looks untiringly for open doors!

How we do it!

Each pupil is given an online Pupil Dashboard and Minimum Attainment Line unique to them and their own innate intelligence. This personalises the learning.  Grades achieved are compared to this at regular intervals in target-setting sessions. Parents are involved and taught to understand the minimum attainment lines and the concepts of Learning to Learn and Assessment For Learning through the pupil Learning Log. Given “that a picture (or an evolving, in real time, online pupil dashboard in this case), paints a thousand words”, repetitive written reports have been largely replaced by pupil dashboards. Underachieving pupils are identified very quickly and an increased pastoral and academic scaffold installed through a Setting Targets Achieving Results (STAR) co-ordinator. The pastoral academic interface is of paramount importance and school management and meeting structures underpin this fact. The Pastoral and Academic Deputy Heads have a dedicated Senior Head of Year and a Senior Head of Department to shore up this arrangement and to hone an ease-of-practice with it.  The STAR co-ordinator also ensures increased stretch and challenge for the Gifted and Talented students who are progressed to top universities commensurate with their abilities. Encouraging pupils to be the best they can be and progress to the best target destination possible is a Key Performance Indicator of the school