Leading girls’ school to launch exam in which full marks is impossible

A leading girls’ school is to introduce tests in which it is impossible to get 100% so that pupils know it is OK “not to get everything right”. This is from the Telegraph…

Oxford High School for Girls is said to be considering using the maths test to prevent students becoming obsessed with being “Little Miss Perfect”.

Pupils aged 11 will take the online test in which the questions become harder and harder. When the girl reaches the top of her ability, she then faces questions that she is unable to answer to show that it is “fine not to get everything right”.

The day school, which charges fees of almost £4,000 a term and last year had an 89 per cent A-A* pass rate at A Level, will be the first to run the initiative which could then be rolled out to other girls’ schools across the country.

Helen Fraser, the chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust, told the Sunday Times that plans are aimed at helping girls to grasp that “being perfect is the enemy of learning”.

She added today: “For high-achieving girls, like the ones in GDST schools, we need to ensure that their education helps them to become resilient, to encourage them to not be afraid to take risks and to be confident.

“There are a number of initiatives in GDST schools to support this aim, one of which is the suggestion from the Head of Oxford High School that by aiming high in tests and tasks that are just beyond them, the girls will often reach further than they ever imagined possible.

“What is important in this context isn’t whether the girls get 100% but that they learn that failure is not fatal – what counts is what you learn from the experience and how you bounce back from it.”

The initiative follows on from “failure week” at another successful private school, Wimbledon High School for girls, aimed at teaching pupils to build resilience.

Education expert Professor Alan Smithers, from the University of Buckingham, has welcomed the idea of tough tests in which obtaining full marks is impossible, but said that the benefits will go beyond teaching girls how to cope with failure.

“Tough tests for both boys and girls to really challenge them are a good idea, and it is good to have questions that only very few, or perhaps none, can answer,” he said.

“The tougher the question the more children are likely to develop to meet them, and a by product of that may be that children learn that you can’t succeed in everything and if you fail the rational thing to do is ask why.

“It is an experience of life that we all have, there are things that we would all dearly love to succeed at and we don’t first time, that is a good general learning experience.

“But it is probably more valuable than that and it could develop the girls’ maths, in this case, as they challenge themselves to improve.”

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