Assessment and Exams
Assessment of a student's development in the School can take many forms (including self-assessment) and teachers generally approach this in a manner most appropriate to the subject and the student's needs. Grades are not given in classes and teachers do not use punishment and reward as motivators. A detailed report of the student's development, in all aspects of school life, is prepared twice a year and sent to parents.
The School offers support in preparing for examinations for university entrance. These include the IELTS (International English Language Testing System – this is examined outside of the school), the Advanced Subsidiary Level (AS Level) and Advanced Level (A level) examinations for UK universities. The AS/A Level exams can generally be used for entrance to universities throughout the world. If a student seeks to take another form of qualification or assessment (including developing a portfolio) we can explore possibilities of supporting this, with students taking an active role in directing their studies for this.
Brockwood uses the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) syllabi for our A-Levels. Examinations are offered in the May/June session. We will support students who have a strong reason for taking exams in October/November, though this is extremely rare.
A-Level exams are competitive, externally assessed qualifications. As such, we feel that students should aim to sit these exams only when they are ready and have the best chance of achieving the grades that they are seeking. The criteria for students being allowed to take an A-Level course are:
- That the student is 16 at the start of the school year. There are two fundamental reasons for this:
- Students taking exams early often obtain poorer results as they have less experience and preparation than the majority of students they are competing with, and they end up having to take resits in subsequent years which can be further detrimental to their performance; and
- When students are focussing on A-Levels they are significantly limited by the syllabi. We believe strongly that it is our responsibility to hold a space for younger students within which they can explore and learn more freely before they are pulled into the examination system.
Exceptions are made occasionally – most often for students who are native speakers of a language other than English, for whom the A-Level in that language may be relatively easy to obtain.
- That the student does not take more than three A-Level classes: There is insufficient space within the timetable to facilitate students taking more than three A-Level courses. It is also felt that taking more courses imposes unnecessary stress on students, as well as significantly limits their opportunities to explore more widely and engage with the common courses.
- That the student has sufficient grasp of English to attend the course and sit the exams: For non-native English speakers there will be an additional challenge in all of the A-Level examinations in interpreting questions and (often) using advanced and accurate English in answers. To prepare for the exams before a student has sufficient grasp of English will lead to poor grades and needless frustration, which does not benefit students. As a result some non-native speakers start A-Level courses a year later than native speakers (so they would be 17 at the start of the year). It is important that students and parents are aware of this possibility before joining the school, and must be prepared to spend one year longer than others in completing their studies as a result if this is the case.
Exam entries are made in February in the year of the examinations. At this stage we assess in collaboration with the student whether they should sit the exams. If students have attended sufficient classes (in the case of a taught course) and completed sufficient homework to take an exam we will make arrangements for entry. Students who are not properly prepared will not be encouraged to take exams, unless they are in their last year and it is their last chance to get some sort of qualification. If there is doubt regarding a student’s preparation, they may be asked to sit a mock exam and achieve a grade (i.e. greater than unclassified) to be allowed to subsequently sit the exam.