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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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