Targets don’t work


To Miss with Love

'Believe me, targets are essential!'

To SLTs out there…

Who ever came up with the idea of targets? They are worse than a waste of time.

Targets take up valuable time, concentrate people on the wrong things or too few things, and lay the basis for a pseudo-performance-managment experience: ticking a box.

They don’t make people better. They make them worse. And they make your school worse. In fact I’d argue they make most organisations worse and any leader who wants to do something radical for the better, should abolish them.

At Michaela, we don’t have Performance Related Pay. God no. And we certainly don’t have its mirror cousin: targets. Targets & PRP create a culture in schools that is pernicious. They destroy teamwork and ensure that no one can trust each other. Give targets to staff who are failing, sure. You need something to hold them to account. Give targets to everyone at your school and…

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Mindsets: The Good, the Bad and the Unknown (Notes from Northern Rocks 2015)


Asking questions of Growth Mindset….


I approached our session with fewer nerves than I had anticipated, even when I realised that we had been moved from a room to a lecture theatre at the last minute. I had, as usual, over-prepared, partly because I didn’t want to find myself struggling to convey accurately what I wanted to put across but also because there was just so much I wanted to say; there was so much I felt needed saying. Realistically, Mark and I knew that we would probably run out of time and in the end this came to be more because of the enthusiasm and interest of the audience rather than any error in our timing.

For a few moments I stood and looked out on the empty lecture theatre, wondering if anybody would actually turn up. My fears of having to present to empty seats soon dissolved as people began to filter in…

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The holidays don’t make up for this


I’ve never reblogged something before but I have read this post about about a blogger who has quit teaching. The reasons why certainly resonate with many teachers.

Tim Paramour

I am part of the Teaching Crisis. In that sentence I wrote “the Teaching Crisis” with capital letters and a definite article as though it were a well-known, named thing like the Banking Crisis in 2008 or the Abdication Crisis in 1936. It isn’t but it should be.

Since September 2013, I’ve been the deputy head of a large primary school in inner London. The head teacher I work with is fantastic. We have a committed, talented team of staff and governors and the young people I teach are always entertaining. The pay is pretty good. I’m currently undertaking my NPQH (National Professional Qualification in Headship) so I’ll soon be ready to apply for the top job at a school of my own. But I’m not going to. In July I’m walking away from the profession that has been my life for more than twelve years and I genuinely don’t…

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Rolling out Growth Mindset in Schools

Growth mindset

There are many fads in education. At the moment teachers are being bombarded by AFL (Assessment for Learning), WALTS (What are we Learning Today) and WILFS (What I’m Looking For) or my favourite at the moment DIRT (Directed Improvement Reflection Time) All this is fine and I’m sure it does have some impact on learning, however it neglects one key issue – If the kids who are sat down in front of you are not motivated to learn, all your efforts in following teaching guidelines from up above (ofsted, estyn) are fruitless.

We need to start approaching education from a different angle. We need to get our kids motivated to learn. We need to look at the psychology of learning. I strongly believe that the Growth Mindset work carried out by Carol Dweck is the foundation of any learning. The reason I believe it is because I have seen it with my own eyes. Not just in the learners in front of me but also in my own learning. Deploying a Growth Mindset in my life has opened many doors and is probably the reason why you are reading this blog  – I hope you are enjoying it so far!

The reason you are reading this blog is to find out what I am doing to roll out Growth Mindset across the school. Here are the steps that I have taken to date:

  • I asked all students in the school (1600) to fill in a questionnaire to find out if they have a Growth or Fixed Mindset. The results proved my initial thoughts – 90% of students had a fixed mindset. Truly worrying.
  • I set up a Growth Mindset working party. We had 5 staff who got together to try and thrash out a plan. This is what we came up with.
  • We invited 50 students (and their parents) out of the 1600 students questioned to attend four 1 hour workshops. The four workshops were titled:
  1. Introduction
  2. What is a Growth Mindset
  3. The Power of Myelin
  4. Become more Gritty

The first meeting was called and we expected the hoards to come through the door. We waited and then waited and then waited…5 parents turned up with their children. Talk about being deflated. Talk about nearly listening to my fixed mindset (which incidentally, I battle against everyday) and sending them home and writing everything off as a bad idea. However, we stayed with it and delivered workshop 1. The following week the parents turned up again and were keen to know more about what a Growth Mindset was. The story told in workshop 1 definitely resinated with them. The group stayed and went through the full course. They found it extremely inspiring and it made them look at the way they were leading their life. The parents certainly began to look at the way they were speaking to their children. Perhaps the most satisfying comment came from a dad, who I had the vibes was fairly pessimistic to begin with. He said he felt very lucky that he and his daughter had been chosen and was dumbfounded that this is being taught in school. He had found a significant impact in his life since adopting a Growth Mindset. This really blew me away and I knew we were on to something

The task is now to carry out the same workshops. With a few little tweaks)we are going  to invite as many students and parents as we possibly can over the next year. It will be a huge challenge but it is one that can be overcome.

As a group we will also be going into assemblies and doing workshops for teachers through the year. Giving them vocab that can be used and ideas how Growth Mindset can be woven into their teaching.

I hope you can follow our journey. If you want to get updated then subscribe to this blog.

Please feel free to comment and share on social media – As I now have Growth Mindset, I would love your feedback.



5 Ways to Trick Your Mindset

Growth mindset, life hacks, lifestyle, tricks

If, like me, your learning experience through school developed a fixed mindset  i.e. you believed that your intelligence was a fixed trait with a ceiling that couldn’t be broken then it is sometimes difficult to break in to the growth mindset.

Here are 5 techniques that I use daily to break into a Growth Mindset:

  1. Listen to yourself – Is your self talk, talking in a fixed mindset way? Are you saying things like “I can’t do it” or “This is just too hard for me”. If you are then you need to change your self talk – add “Yet” to the above sentences and notice an immediate change in motivation

2 Stickability – (Not a word but I use it) When you are working on something that you can’t solve or it seems difficult, keep working on it after your fixed  mindset tells you to give up.

3. Practice it – You’re not going to learn something in one day. Tell yourself it takes time. Return to the problem or the skill day after day and in 30 days you will have noticed a huge difference since day one.

4. Just do it – To coin a phrase from the Nike advertising campaign “Just do it!” Many people with a fixed mindset will put off and put off because their fixed mindset is telling them that they may fail or it will take effort in order to complete.

5. Enjoy struggle – Many fixed mindets will turn off if they think something will take time. Enjoy the struggle of learning something. Its a great feeling when you accomplish something your fixed mindset has told you it was impossible

Take these 5 steps with you throughout your day and notice the impact it has on your life.


PS – if you liked please share

My Miracle Morning


Does this sound familiar?

That selected wake up chime on your iphone,( yep!, that one that you thought sounded really tranquil, yep!, that one that you now hate with a passion) goes off at 07:00 and you just hit that snooze button and keep hitting it until you have to get up. Drag yourself into the shower, into you work clothes, ram down some breakfast, sort the kids out (if you have them) and get out the door, in the car and get to work in the nick of time and then just find yourself behind the 8 ball all day long. And that was how it was for me for years. Until recently……

On my drive to work the radio just wasn’t doing it for me. I started to think how my 25 min commute could be better and that’s when I discovered podcasts. I’m getting into the property market and discovered a great podcast called, The Property Podcast. Its a show hosted by two great guys Rob Dix and Rob Bence. They guided me through my first purchase and without their guidance and encouragement I don’t think that purchase would have been made.

On one of their weekly shows they mentioned a guy called John Lee Dumas. Apparently he had his own daily podcast show called Entrepreneur on Fire. From my first listen I was hooked. On each show he interviews different entrepreneurs and to date has over 1000 shows. WOW!  I enjoyed going to work each day. He is very entertaining, funny and whilst listening, I was learning and being inspired!

One of his guests was a guy called Hal Elrod – he had written a book called the Miracle Morning and John Lee Dumas was going crazy about it and saying how it had transformed his life. During the interview, Hal was basically saying if you want energy and focus in your everyday life don’t do exactly what I was doing. I thought what the hell, lets give it a go.

So, I set my alarm for 6am. The alarm went off and I got out of bed, put my trainers on, plugged my headphones into  my iphone, found my preloaded EoFire podcast and headed out for a 30 minute walk. When I came home the house was still silent, I made my coffee, put my eggs on and found that I had peace. I thought about what my day entailed and how I was going to tackle it. Later I would download an app called the the 5 minute journal. I take time to note down what I am going to do in the day and what I am thankful for.

By the time I ready to go to work I felt great, I had a spring in my step that lasted throughout the day and I also found myself smiling more and also being more tolerant. It was life changing.

I also noticed that my fitness was improving, I was clocking up steps for fun. Before 7am I had achieved between 4000 and 5000 steps. I was burning calories right from the word go and it felt great.

I do it virtually every day and on the days I don’t… I feel like crap.

Try it tomorrow….

Oh and a share on Twitter or Facebook wouldn’t go a miss. 🙂




Teaching is exhausting – Fact!

Five, one hour lessons of trying to organise, control, differentiate, perform and cajole leaves you mentally frazzled. It’s no joke. The problem is what teachers then do is reach for immediate energy in the shape of high carbohydrate fillers. These snacks at break time, between lessons, and at lunchtimes and jam (excuse the term) packed with simple or complex sugars. There are always biscuits, chocolate or cake (it’s always someone’s birthday) being passed around the staff room not to mention the energy drink consumed before class 11F! But this can all be justified because teachers are expending high amounts of energy in the classroom – WRONG!

Here is my experience – and it was life changing.


I recently bought a fitbit watch ( see above). Its a fancy watch that acts as a pedometer and heart rate monitor. I read a bit around the how many steps I should be doing in a day and most evidence was pointing me towards 10,000 steps a day. So I set this as my target and set about my day.


Being a PE teacher my lessons revolved around teaching on the fields in the grounds of the school. It’s a fair walk to the fields, match this with the movement required to structure the lessons or referee the matches, I was clocking steps like they were going out of fashion! I’d easily clocked up 10,000 by the end of the school day and I still had extra curricular to follow and my club coaching in the evening. By the end of my first day I had clocked up in excess of 17,000 steps. This was going to be easy!


This day was totally different to my first day and involved classroom based lessons. I had four lessons that were classroom based and a free lesson to do my planning. It was at the end of the school day when I looked at the number of steps that I had done that it struck me how little I had moved. I had only done 3,500 steps. Yet I was mentally exhausted. I was now reaching for the fast release energy foods. When I got home I played with my kids. At 9 pm I had still only done 7,500 steps. I had to force myself to go out for a walk so I would feel that buzzing on my wrist that told me I had achieved my goal of 10,000 steps.

It made me sit up and think that this is what my colleagues are doing every day. They don’t have to go to the fields and teach. They are confined to their classrooms day in day out. I don’t know what their lifestyle is like after school but I do know that they are leading a non-active lifestyle between 8:30 am and 3:05 pm and eating the amount of calories a triathlon athlete would need in the run up to competition.

No wonder many teachers have weight concerns.

My Mantra


In order to be successful in any chosen field, I believe that we need to follow this simple equation:


Bring these three to the party and great results are coming your way. However it’s not as easy as that! If it were, everyone would be successful, and quite simply, they’re not! So we need to break down each of the three factors and dig deeper to see what it is that makes each one so important.


As child or adult we need to find ourselves in the right environment at the right time. It’s almost like the stars aligning in order to provide us with a particular opportunity. An example of this could be being born into a sporting or musical family, having a teacher who has a particular interest in the arts or having a laptop with internet access so that you search particular information. This is not to say however, that you just wait for fate to take its course. On the contrary. Many successful people have made it their business to go and find opportunity; taking unpaid work in a particular sector or joining forums to set up relationships with similar minded people. There are opportunities all around us, every day, its just whether or not we identify them and decide to follow them up. School is a great example of this, how many students take education for granted and don’t see it as an opportunity to learn.


There is a difference between practice and deliberate practice. Someone who just simply practices runs the risk of practising the skill incorrectly. This will lead to to months of  habitual repetition that is very difficult to undo. Instead the practice needs to be done with a coach or mentor who can identify weaknesses early on and lead the student down the correct pathway. How many golfers do I see practising on their own just compounding their errors? The answer is almost every amateur golfer. They will improve but ultimately their errors will limit their potential to shoot low on regular basis. How many pros do you see practising on their own prior to a major championship – None! So if you are looking to improve in anything, swimming, golf, times tables, reading or getting into the property market, get yourself a mentor.


This is where many people fall. How many athletes or students are given things on a plate and also understand about how we learn? – lots. How many actually go on and succeed at a high level? – few. It is more often that not, a lack of motivation is the crucial factor missing. They stick at things for a short period of time but lack the true grit to persevere over a long period time. They may also be suffering from a ‘fixed mindset’. They believe that they were born with a particular talents and eventually they reach a ceiling of where these talents can take them. What they need to do is adopt a ‘Growth Mindset’ and approach all tasks as challenges that require time in order to complete. They answer failure with persistence and they always follow  the phrase “I can’t do it” with “Yet”

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Thanks Richard