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Standardised testing recently carried out in Orbital schools demonstrates that student progress against targets and the expectations for their age group has been maintained, and in certain areas exceeded, throughout the extended period of eLearning delivered via the Group’s Virtual Learning Environment.

At all our schools, the teachers’ assessment of student attainment and progress is supported and verified by rigorous external standardised assessments from our partners at GL Assessment and the UK examination boards. Standardised progress tests are used to assess student achievement against learning targets and to benchmark against age-related standards. This year, due to COVID-19, Orbital schools have been challenged to complete all testing. But enough has been achieved, sometimes through live streamed invigilation of students who were “locked down” on the other side of the world, for a clear picture of student performance to emerge. Initial findings include:

  • Progress has been made in the core subjects of English and mathematics, on average above global age-related expectations. This is particularly impressive when you consider that most of our students are not native English speakers
  • Schools have also made progress, showing an upward trend of year-on-year improvement in cohort average scores and value added compared to expectations based on cognitive ability test results.

Contributing factors to these results are:

  • Attendance for online lessons and completion of work assignments has been excellent (as high as 97%) with high levels of engagement in livestream lessons and wide variety of resources and practical activities. Students and teachers have put in tremendous efforts to cover the curriculum.
  • Some students have benefitted from the online learning format, possibly because it is a preferred learning style for them or because they may have had more direct interaction with their teachers than when they have physically been in class.
  • A key factor is support and personalised feedback. In surveys of our e-learning provision, on average, families told us that over 80% were happy with the feedback and the support their children were getting and that 85% found it easy to contact teachers and other staff when needed.
  • Children are more resilient in their learning than many (parents, teachers, media or even governments) sometimes assume. The maintenance and development of learned skills and content demonstrated by our students is in line with other global studies during this pandemic and after other school closures.

Remote eLearning has provided new insights on school education for many through this crisis. It is reassuring to see that a well-managed eLearning programme can provide strong educational benefits in core subject areas. It cannot, of course, replace the social and practical aspects of school-based learning but in the longer term, may offer new possibilities to further enhance our students’ development and become part of the “new normal”.