Dear Parents,
I wanted to reach out and share the next installment of the plan that is being put into place to help raise the school’s academic attainment.
When I wrote last I said that some aspects of the calendar would change as the term moved forwards. In order to refine this, we have included the boys' thinking on the measures we have already put into place and are planning on taking.

The prefects have made the decision to help the school move towards a Founder’s-to-Founder’s year for appointments, captains-of, boys-in-charge-of and prefectship, by being the change that they want to see. I think this reflects the quality of leadership and role modelling we have seen from them during their tenure and our respect for them has increased all the more. This move helps us maintain a framework in which those who need to put their attention towards academics and university admissions are not distracted by the burden of responsibility at the worst possible time for them. Rather than the interhouse events following Founder’s coming at the end of the cycle, they will become the start of the next. 
Prefects with masters at the 'review workshop.'

On the topic of a two year cycle for some events, those running the larger events have agreed to run them at a scale that is smaller and shorter but not thinner on learning or quality. This is clearly important for some students and faculty, as well as for a few of the institutions that have been in place for many years. Their solutions will be reviewed, scrutinised and, if they can work, put into place. Again, the students are going to be a key part of solving these event management problems.

 The academic calendar, which includes the testing and internal assessment (IA) deadlines for each batch, has been adjusted to bring the IA forwards for the IB students to make sure that they are not trying to finish off one thing (IA) when they should be working on another (revision of their courses). By following through with the inevitable consequences of missing these deadlines, as we did last week with 8 students who were put on academic probation, we were able to share our concerns with them, their parents and their housemaster and to get the work from them quickly because there was nothing coming in the way.

 On the question of a blanket ban on A and SC Form taking part in activities post Founder’s, further analysis shows that over the years some of our top performers have also been those doing the most. It is because they enjoy and excel in their sports and activities that they were disciplined and well organised enough to make everything work. We also know that there are several students who did very little and achieved equally little academically. We don’t want to punish everyone because there are some who are not managing and are falling behind, so that system of academic probation and maintaining academic standards will be the criteria for participation and representation. The academic probation status will also be the deciding factor on who needs to be back earlier from SC Form in January for the additional support we will offer. We believe that the whole of A Form should return on 12th Jan for a week of intensive IGCSE revision and exam technique training.

 The important lesson for the boys here is that maintaining academic standards matters. This week we have had to write to several universities, as have the members of the batch of 2019 themselves, to explain why the boy who was made an offer in January was unable to live up to it in May; an uncomfortable answer to have to give and one that has consequences for both the boy and the batch that follows him. We have learned from the universities that they want to know of any drop in academic focus before the final examinations, so we will be sharing that information with them and with parents in future

Finally, on the question of the SAT that 35 of our SC and S Form boys are registered for in October. These standardised tests are something that colleges in the US look for to support admissions, but they are “not a substitute for the academic programme of the school” (those are the words of the college admissions tutors). We have put together an intensive programme of preparation classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays that includes time for practice tests, as well as two classes in the week and the study schools in which the boys have access to their teachers and SAT instructors. This sustained period of preparation allows understanding to develop that doesn’t evaporate over the course of a week, which is what some boys and parents believe will happen during their Midterms. The S Form does not have full fledged Trials in September but an Assessment week (with a shorter test syllabus)...their Trials are in November...leaving them plenty time to keep up the pace of the SAT preparation.
This timing of Midterm isn’t new, but the preparation is and that is what will help the students reach their potential. On the days after the September Midterm there will be 6 hours of practice tests over two days before heading into the real thing. In offering both the instructors and the classes we are more than meeting the needs of the students. On having the Midterm after the September trials, well, that’s part of The Doon School Curriculum that our community and experience is built around. We will be providing additional support for those appearing for the 7th December SAT by allowing boys to stay back in school and having the SAT faculty available round the clock as in previous years.
As with all of the tests and exams that boys will have to sit, their energy needs to be put into deep preparation ahead of time rather than crammed for at the end. Thank you for understanding this, for supporting what we are doing and for not entertaining the idea or requests of missing S Form Midterms as an alternative; we do allow the opportunity in SC Form, which is the most appropriate time to take the SAT.
We will continue to monitor, course correct and take action where it is needed with the students and with ourselves. The teachers have set up their Google Classrooms for their students on which can be found their syllabus and plan for the year. Each teacher working in parallel is included, as is the Head of Department which gives them a clear overview of where the teachers are in the course. I am in the classrooms for the next six weeks observing lessons as are the HoDs ahead of the teachers' appraisals in September; this is all a part of the school’s quality control and feedback mechanism.

Matthew Raggett
The Doon School
Mall Road
Dehradun-248 001
Uttarakhand (India)