Top 10 Back to School Tips For Teachers

Education, Teaching and Learning

It’s a new academic year and we can already tell it’s going to be a fantastic one! Here are our top 10 tips to ease you back into September…

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 15.02.03


  1. Let that Confidence shine.

With a fresh academic year, there comes a newfound confidence. Make sure you bring that new you straight into the classroom.



  1. Release your Inner Artist.

It’s time to A-map how you are going to be even more fabulous than you were last year. Reflect on last year’s successes and how you can add to them this year!


  1. Pace Yourself

It’s great coming into school early and leaving late, but make sure you still leave time for you – You don’t want to burn out and spend the rest of the year trying to catch up on all those zzz’s.



  1.  Prioritise

After the summer break, it can feel quite overwhelming returning to work. It can help to write a list, marking each item A – C, with A being the most urgent. Order each letter with a priority number from 1 – 10 and start with your A1.



  1. Inspiring SMARTs

Write some uplifting SMARTs for the year, which will help to inspire you, your class and maybe even the rest of your school. Remember your SMARTs should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.


  1. Share Space

Over the summer we created a GIANT share space, where we can all write on the wall and share our fantastic new ideas. You could create one in your classroom or staffroom, so the students or staff can all come together.


  1. Growth Mindset

We’re always going on about it, but failure happens. The key is to keep going – We are only human.



  1. Keep on laughing!

Laughter is natures best way to give yourself a boost! Laugh as much as you can, whenever you can! Here’s a classic YouTube clip to get you started…


  1. Half – Term

October half-term is only round the corner – Line up some fun activities for the week, or book that trip away that you’ve been planning for ages!


  1. Sleep

We’ve all read the articles on the health benefits of sleep, we know it’s hard, but try to get those crucial 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night.



Here’s to an AWESOME 2016 – 2017 Academic Year!



2015/16 GCSE Results Day

Education, Learning

There is no doubt that with GCSE’s comes highs and lows. 2014’s results were disappointingly low but 2015 showed promise with a significant increase. However, today’s results are the lowest they have been since 2008! This fall was anticipated, largely due to the government new re-sit rule for all 17 year olds without a C of above in English and Maths. We will hear a lot of statistics over the next few days and because of this it is easy to forget the individuals.

Today is a day not without celebration. One particular success that should be celebrated comes from a student at Littlehampton Academy, where we worked with a group of disadvantaged students for a 15-week programme to improve resilience, mindset and ultimately results.

Amy* was predicted U’s in many subjects and had resigned herself to failure from the start. She told our presenter…“Rob, don’t even bother with me I’m not going to get anywhere”. Although Amy was resolute, she continued to attend sessions every Friday after school. This alone shows Amy’s, the teachers and our own commitment and persistence. After weeks of hard work and determination she achieved A – C’s in many subjects, including English and Maths! Not only did she smash expectations, but she will be going on to study A-Levels, with the goal to become a teacher – WOW.

This inspirational story is why we do what we do. It is what makes teaching worthwhile, a testament to both student and teachers. Amy’s story will not be the only one in need of celebration today, many students will have experienced a similar journey of ups and downs, but resilience and perseverance has shone through.

From us all at Learning Performance, we’d like to say massive congratulations to both students and teachers for all of your hard work and dedication. The future can be epic if we make it.

Together we can raise achievement!

*name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.

The Festival of Education 2016

Education, Memory, Revision, Study Skills, Teaching and Learning


1The Festival of Education was a HUGE success again this year, attracting teachers, students and educational professionals from all round the country to the beautiful Wellington College for another action-packed two days. You can check out videos from The Telegraph’s event on the Festival’s YouTube page here.

We were absolutely delighted to be an exhibitor at the event, along with the likes of Schools Week, Microsoft and BBC Learning. We met some incredible individuals who were all there to help improve the lives of our country’s young people.6

There was plenty to do at the festival, from holding reptiles, to circus skills, to watching the great performances going on outside. This was all topped off with an array of talks from influential speakers such as Rory Bremner, Germaine Greer and Piers Morgan, to name but a few.There were so many people coming over to us throughout the festival explaining how they were excited about our MD, Carrie Starbuck speaking on both days of the festival about Memory Matters. 52 attendees squeezed into a small classroom to watch Carrie talk on the Thursday, and Friday’s session w2as the busiest speech of the day in that room. It smashed our expectations! You can find out more about Carrie’s motivational talk here, where she has also uploaded the slides and transcript.

Overall, the festival was AWESOME and we would like to say a huge thank you to the The Telegraph for asking us to participate again!


We’d also like to say a massive thank you to the teachers, students and educational professionals we got to meet – We came away truly inspired.

We can’t wait to see what next year has to bring!


Growth Mindset: Walk the Talk

Education, Learning, Mindset, Teaching and Learning

I have been to a fair few terrible CPD days in my teaching career. One of the worst I wrote about here and the best by far were ResearchED and the Education Festival.

ResearchED and the Festival of Education are head and shoulders above the rest because sessions were practical and actionable. I left inspired, full of ideas that I could implement the very next day in the classroom. That is the mark of truly great CPD.

When the Growth Mindset philosophy exploded into schools I was ecstatic. I had seen firsthand the impact having such an approach to teaching and learning can have in a stellar PRU I taught in. I had also grown up surrounded by it, at LPT my parents had been advocating the philosophy for decades and it is at the core of every programme we design.

I would be lying to you if I didn’t confess I was dubious too. Growth Mindset is marvellous, but incredibly difficult to make tangible. As a result, it is easy to fall into the meaningless “you can achieve anything” band camp. An excellent, heart – felt mantra, that ultimately does little to help young people grow.

Yes, any child can achieve anything but only with a bucket – load of hard work, the ability to bounce – back, to learn, develop and grow from life’s inevitable hard lessons of rejection, obstacles, and negativity.


This is the score used in rehearsals by a well known soprano. 10% genius, 90% hard work. Shared by @fimetic on Twitter.

That is no easy task, and one assembly on having a Growth Mindset isn’t going to cut it. Children need to be equipped with practical strategies. Teachers need to be open about their own mindset (we are human after all!) and above all, know how they can implement the Growth Mindset philosophy in their classroom and school.

That is why I wrote Growth Mindset: Walk the Talk – a practical CPD programme that aims to make the philosophy tangible and actionable by focusing on ideas, techniques, research and case studies.

It’s had such a great demand from schools that I’m thrilled to be running the event at King’s College London on Friday 1st July 2016. Tickets are extremely limited (we only have a few left!) so book here

I look forward to meeting you!

Carrie Signature 2016

Our Term Review!

Education, Exams, Learning Performance, Revision, Study Skills

Wow, what a fantastic term! We have finally caught our breath and done a review of all the successes we have had this term. In three short months we worked with over 200 schools across the UK (and Europe!). This means we reached just over 50,000 young people empowering them with effective revision strategies such as, memory techniques. That’s not to mention the thousands of staff and parents we visited too.


We are incredibly proud that so many schools, colleges, and universities chose us to help raise achievement and inspire a love of learning!


Here are some of our favourite comments from the past term:

My students absolutely loved the session and found it extremely useful. Thank you to you and the presenters. It was a great success. I will be recommending the session to my colleagues.’


‘Amazing and really boosted my confidence.’


‘Very good day, this changed my outlook towards my teaching.’


‘It was very motivational and inspirational.’


‘It was an eye-opening workshop’


‘Off the charts :)’


‘Thank you once again for providing such a high quality presenter- the pupils loved him and thoroughly enjoyed their workshops.’


‘I just wanted to say a massive thank you for the brilliant course’


We are thrilled to be making such a difference. Here’s to a fantastic Summer Term and best of luck to all those taking exams – You’ve got this! #YouAreAwesome



Remembering our best teacher…

Education, Teaching and Learning

Education is currently getting a bashing with multiple reforms and we are facing a teacher recruitment (and retainment) crisis. Inspired by Stephen Hawking’s memories of his favourite teacher we wanted to celebrate the profession with our own reflections.


Roger Starbuck, Founder

“Miss Balls, my French teacher, was the best!

Every morning without fail she would enter our classroom with a tremendous burst of energy, enthusiasm, humour and commitment which never flagged throughout her lesson.

Years later when in the Sixth Firm we asked her how she managed to have so much energy. Her reply was that she always had a power nap every lunchtime.

I like to think that I modelled my life around her enthusiasm and commitment even though I was rubbish at French and never had the chance to have a power nap!”


Kristi Lelliot, PA to MD

“The one teacher that stands out to me is Miss Baker. She really made me feel special and I could do well! She made it clear how important time was to her, but would constantly stay late to help students, or put on extra revision sessions to go over work. If it wasn’t for her there would be absolutely no way I would have had the confidence to get an A in Maths.”


Gemma Hathaway, Presenter Coordinator 

“Michelle my Social Science teacher inspired me to challenge my perceptions of the world and others around me. She encouraged me to view the world in a fascinating and positive light that challenges the norms of society. It was her teaching that sparked my interest in social psychology.”


Holly Chandler, School Development Advisor 

“Mr Greenhalgh had passion and enthusiasm for the subject he taught, History. He had the ability to engage all students with his lighthearted jokes, not just in the classroom, but all around school.

I remember him for his humorous and personable approach, but equally for knowing when it was time to be serious. He connected with students on a one to one basis, and demanded respect while still making lessons enjoyable. He was without doubt one of my favourite teachers. He made me realise the importance of balance.”


Carrie Starbuck, Managing Director

“My favourite teacher was Mrs Vogel. A straight – talking, fashionable, fierce woman. It was her passion for History and her encouragement that inspired me to study the subject at University. Above all, Mrs Vogel showed me a woman could be powerful leader and for that, I am forever indebted to her.”


Teachers have incredible power. Let’s celebrate it. Who was your best teacher? Comment and share! 

Part 5 of the Philosophy of Memory: Review It

Creativity, Exams, Memory, Revision, Study Skills, Teaching and Learning

This step is the most important of all. Reviewing work regularly strengthens the neural connections making memories stronger. This means you can recall information easily when it matters, most in the exam.

Strategies for Success AI

This graph shows what is happening to those neural connections with each review you do. We call it the Review Philosophy which is based on scientific evidence of how the brain learns and recalls information, otherwise knows as distributed practice.

Following the Review Philosophy means reviewing revision notes for ten minutes around ten minutes after writing them. A day later you review them for five minutes. A week later you review them for between two and five minutes, and the same again a month later.

Essentially, reviewing a subject in small chunks, several times in short bursts, has a far greater impact than cramming three hours before the exam.

You can download our free guide to creating a revision timetable based on the review philosophy here.

Part 4 – Unleash Your Imagination

Creativity, Education, Exams, Memory, Revision, Study Skills, Teacher Resources, Teaching and Learning

Strategies for Success AI

Yes, really. You can improve how you learn, remember and recall information by unleashing your imagination. The crazy, absurd visual story you used to remember the key dates of WWII has created stronger links between neurons making it easier for your brain to recall the information when you need it most, in the exam.

So go wild, enjoy using your imagination and creativity to make learning easier.


Building Blocks of Success: A summary of DfE report

Education, Learning, Politics, Pupil Premium, research, Study Skills, Teacher Resources, Teaching and Learning

The government commissioned NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research) to investigate good practice in raising attainment of disadvantaged students. They specifically looked at features of schools that narrowed the gap successfully and compared it to schools that weren’t doing so well.

It’s a fascinating read but the report, Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: articulating success and good practice,” like the title is long and hardly sexy. If you’re anything like me – teaching, being a governor, mentor, and business owner – it’s tough to find time to read research reports like this. Four months later I am celebrating finishing the study with a) a glass of wine b) a summary blog to make other teachers’ lives easier.

1. What makes successful schools successful?

The question on everyones lips and in a nutshell they place an emphasis on;

  • Teaching and learning strategies including emotional/social support
  • Assessment for learning systems so they are straightforward
  • Clear feedback for pupils
  • Improving pupils’ ability to learn through metacognitive strategies

2. What is the magic potion? 

No magic tricks here. There is no one singular approach identified as raising attainment. (That’s important, they repeat that a lot) In fact, the most successful schools had on average 18 different strategies in place to support disadvantaged pupils.

In secondary schools the analysis identified four main groups of strategies used by schools to raise disadvantaged pupils’ attainment. The analysis of relationships between these factors identified one statistically significant relationship; more successful schools were more likely to use the Group S4 strategies.

GroupingThis is backed up by Schools’ Week Alternative GCSE League Table which show the best performing schools in the country for pupils receiving free school meals. We work with 4 out of the top 10 schools who have over 20% FSM pupils on study skills, metacognition, and independent learning strategies as part of our Pupil Premium Project.

3. What can my school do next?

What is clear from the study, is the effectiveness of such strategies relies on them being embedded into a whole – school ethos of aspiration and attainment.

The study identified seven “building blocks” for success for all pupils, including those from disadvantaged pupils.


Building Blocks

The details of the building blocks can be found between pages 73 – 82. You can skip straight to these pages as they are well worth a read and have handy comparisons.

4. The improvement journey 

This visualisation of the “schools’ pathways to success” in raising attainment I found particularly helpful.

Schools' Pathway to Success

(Timescale 3 – 5 years)

5. Conclusion

Tah dah! There is no simple solution or one size fits all solution to closing the attainment gap. Instead, a number of measures are required, including setting a culture of high expectations and looking at evidence based strategies such as, metacognition. It must be tailored to each school’s circumstances and above all, the students.

What do you think makes a school successful in supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils? Comment below!

Philosophy of Memory Step 3: Link it together!

Creativity, Education, Exams, History, Learning, Memory, Mindset, Revision, Study Skills, Teacher Resources, Teaching and Learning

Strategies for Success AI

Capturing the brain’s love of imagination and logic is a powerful way to learn. Creating a whacky story, a mnemonic, a memory palace or a number system (to name a few) is an efficient and effective way to learn.

These techniques are particularly great for lists, processes, dates, formulas, and people. But what about entire topics?

Breaking down the huge information into key points e.g. Theme, Main Idea and Details, is vital. Then you can turn it into something creative, logical and most importantly, memorable with Mind Maps. Here is an example!

Henry A - Map