The Dalton Difference

This year at Ascham we are celebrating 100 Years of the Dalton Plan.

Since the Dalton Plan was introduced in 1922 by Head of School Miss Margaret Bailey, it has sat at the heart of Ascham’s approach to teaching and learning.

The four pillars of the Plan – Independence, Responsibility, Collaboration and Reflection – are the solid foundation upon which Ascham students become independent learners.

Each week, the three key elements of Assignment, Lesson and Study provide a unique framework for students to organise their own learning—seeking direct feedback when required and following up on areas that require consolidation.

Through this self-directed yet highly supportive learning structure, in partnership with their teachers, Ascham students develop an extraordinary skill set that enables them to become confident and self-reliant throughout their lives.

The Dalton Plan was first developed by Helen Parkhurst in the town of Dalton, Massachusetts, before she established the first Dalton School in New York in 1919. One of the tenets of her philosophy was to establish a ‘culture achieved through individual development and through collective cooperation. It is no longer school. It is life.’

One hundred years of Ascham girls can attest to this. The Dalton Plan has not only formed the basis for their School studies but has underpinned the way generations of Ascham students have approached their careers and their lives.

I look forward to celebrating this very special year marking 100 Years of the Dalton Plan at Ascham School.

Andrew Powell | Head of School

A letter from Dalton International

Congratulations to everyone involved in the 100th Anniversary of the Dalton Plan at Ascham School! Your excellent management and team of teachers are continuously protecting the core values of the Dalton Plan and at the same time implementing the innovations in a modern Dalton education.

The Dalton Plan at Ascham stimulates the intellectual partnership between girls and teachers. Certainly, at the base of all educational activities lies mutual trust and respect, which is also the basis of Dalton Education worldwide. A Dalton school is also about taking care of the students’ wellbeing. Students shape the attitude of openness, they stimulate their own growth by creating a healthy, strong Dalton community. At Ascham the girls themselves express their appreciation of how the Dalton Plan is important for them in their social, professional and private life. The students are intrinsically motivated to achieve their own goals, be persistent, flexible and creative.

The Dalton way of school life in Ascham teaches the girls how to become independent, self-aware, responsible and cooperative citizens of the 21st century; a continuously transforming reality. Congratulations Ascham on your 100th Anniversary as a Dalton school.

Roel Röhner
President Dalton International

Dalton in the News

The Dalton Framework

Ascham follows the Dalton Plan which provides our students with foundational principles that guide their intellectual and personal growth at school and beyond.

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    Our students take responsibility for their personal, social and intellectual decisions, giving them self-efficacy and active involvement in the activities that shape them.

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    Our students learn respectful relationships and teamwork, working collectively for the success of the group. When the group is thriving, we are all thriving.

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    Reflecting on feedback gives our students the confidence to consider what they know and where to next. They are taught to ask questions and commit to a continuous cycle of development.

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    Our students develop the independence to make decisions for themselves and the motivation to complete tasks autonomously. Such independence means our students are prepared for lifelong learning and developing vital skills and knowledge beyond school.

ASC_The Dalton Plan diagram_FA1-01

The ‘Assignment’

Girls have access to the whole unit of study for every subject ahead of time. Deadlines for assignment tasks are set out in advance and are due on Tuesdays. The benefits of the Assignment include excellent understanding of the goals of the topic and the ability for girls to work at their own pace in conjunction with the Lesson and Study. Assignments have options and differentiated tasks so girls are working at their level while being challenged by the curriculum.

The ‘Lesson’

Lessons are stimulating experiences for girls, delivered by teachers who are passionate about their subject area. Girls have about two thirds of the number of lessons that are taught in a conventional school. Teachers will cover the elements required to complete the Assignment and continue with additional curriculum requirements.

The ‘Study’

This is the core of the Dalton Plan. Each girl has classes in her timetable where lessons are not scheduled. In these Studies, girls go to a teacher to continue their Assignment. The teacher’s timetable also has many slots where Studies are scheduled over Lessons.

It is crucial that each girl timetables her own Studies for each subject—she chooses the time, she sets the agenda. As a result, the amount of one-on-one time that an Ascham girl has with each of her teachers, each week, is exceptional. It is the Study which teaches each girl how to be responsible for her own learning: how to organise her time to choose the best Study to see a teacher; how to plan an agenda for that Study; how to ask questions in the language of that subject; how to debate and test ideas; eventually how to develop her own language of learning and understanding.

Long after their final school roll call, an Ascham old girl continues to reap the benefits of the Dalton Plan. The sense of organisation of time and of taking responsibility for each task is a secure foundation for university and for a professional life. Ascham girls enjoy a reputation for being organised, for showing initiative, and as skilled negotiators. That process of taking responsibility, learned in the classroom every day while at Ascham, becomes a mark of each girl’s personal and professional maturity.

The Dalton Plan in action

Take a deep dive into the Dalton Plan with our curated videos that explain exactly how the Plan works, and why the principles and structural elements serve our students so well. Hear from our Head of School, teachers, students and Ascham Old Girls—they share their love of the Dalton Plan and how it has enriched their school years and life beyond the School gates.

The Dalton Plan:

The foundation of an Ascham education (part one)

The Dalton Plan in action:

Ascham students and Old Girls (part two)

Dalton Beyond the School Gates

Ascham School