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.

2015-2016 Academic Year Review

Education, Learning, Learning Performance, Literacy, Mindset, Numeracy, Study Skills

This academic year has smashed all expectations. We are incredibly proud of what the Learning Performance team have achieved and as the end of term is upon us, what better time to reflect on the accomplishments of the year!

Not only have both our HQ and presenter teams expanded, we continue to reach more and more students, staff and parents each year throughout the country (and across Europe)! A massive thank you to each and every school, college and university that chose us to work with them to help raise achievement and inspire a love of learning this year!

So in summary, what’s been going on?

Press

Learning Performance and our MD Carrie Starbuck have been featured in the press several times over the last few months, which is very exciting!

Numeracy and Literacy

This academic year saw the launch of our Literacy and Numeracy programme, the success of it has gone beyond all expectations. Our case study shows that 100% of students felt that the programme helped them improve in English- incredible! I am thrilled to share with you our 2015 – 2016 Literacy and Numeracy Impact Report! We have had an overwhelming demand for longer term and more sustained programmes, and we are so proud to have evidence that supports just how beneficial such interventions are!

Aspirational Programmes

We have also been working with a number of schools specifically targeting hard to reach students with our 4 – 6 week aspirational programmes, with dramatic improvement shown. Nearly 90% of a targeted group of students felt more confident as a result of the programme.

Events

Growth mindset-Walk the Talk. We held our first ever off site event at Kings College, London which focused on ideas, techniques, research and case studies all linked to embedding a Growth Mindset in the classroom, with our NEW ‘Walk the Talk’ programme. Due to high demand, we are looking to hold further events in the Autumn term which we are already excited about!

We had a stand at The Academy Show, London where we spent a fantastic day talking with hundreds of education professionals from all over the county.

We attended The Festival of Education which was a HUGE success! Carrie Starbuck was in high demand after her talk on‘ Memory Matters’ on both days. You can download Carrie’s slides and transcript here.

 

 

Looking to the future

This year we have introduced Learning Performance Partnership Schools. This is an incredibly exciting development and we are so pleased to welcome on board a select few schools for the New Academic year. You can contact us to find out more about what a partnership with Learning Performance entails.

We have also launched an online hub for schools, which goes live in September 2016!

Feedback

Below are just a couple of my favourite comments from school organisers this academic year.

‘We really enjoyed the day. Your presenter was fantastic and very inspiring.  I don’t think the children believed that study skills could be fun.’

‘The session was fantastic. Students were totally engaged throughout the whole session and the content he covered was exactly what we were looking for. I have seen a lot of motivational speakers whilst doing this role and was very impressed.’

‘I would like to say a massive thank you.  We absolutely loved the workshop.  I was so impressed, his manner and way with the students had them hooked on every word he said.  The activities the students were involved in were both engaging and relevant and I know the students left the workshop feeling that they had got a lot from the session including being more energised and confident.  We have had other speakers in, both this year and previous years, and I can honestly say that I really think your presenter was one of the best.’

‘The students absolutely loved the day that was delivered and are still speaking positively of how much the day has helped them.’

And now from the students themselves..

‘I have learnt not to give up easily and try until you succeed.’

‘It was awesome. The presenter was so motivated & enthusiastic that it made me engaged and want to find out more.’

‘ I have found this has really helped me in class.’

‘I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it.’

What a fantastic year it’s been! It’s finally time to catch our breath and get prepared for what the 2016-2017 academic year will bring. A massive thank you to all our lovely schools, our team of presenters and the HQ team. Let’s continue to work together to inspire the young people of our generation!

summer

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.

CjHmohVWkAA2Crz

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

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

 

UK Schools Memory Championships 2015

Education, Learning, Learning Performance, Memory

The UK Schools Memory Championships has established an enviable reputation for helping students acquire powerful mental skills to improve both learning and self-confidence. In 2014, for the first time in its seven-year history, the final was televised on UKTV channel Watch, where George Watts was crowned Memory Slam 2015 champion!

Last year, the UK Schools Memory Championships moved online and was open to all schools, ages and abilities.

After receiving high scoring test papers from over 200 students from schools across the UK, we are delighted to announce that the 2015 UK Schools Memory Champion is..

LIA FROM INVICTA GRAMMAR SCHOOL!

National Memory Competition (1).JPG

Watch this space, as we will soon be opening and taking entries for the 2016 UK Schools Memory Championships. Could a student at your school be the next champion?

Memory Matters.

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

The national curriculum and exam changes are transforming the way our children have to learn. They have to retain and recall huge amounts of information when it matters most, in the exam.

It is a big demand on our young people. We can meet this demand head on with *wait for it* creativity and imagination. Yes, that’s right. By unleashing the power of creativity and imagination we can empower students to learn independently with effective memory techniques, learn to learn and study skills.

Over the next five weeks we will be sharing our 5 Point Philosophy of Memory as part of our #memorymatters campaign.

The first step in our Philosophy is RELAX. 

Strategies for Success AI

 

The brain reacts to physical stress (think hungry lion chasing you down the street) exactly the same as emotional stress (think exams). It automatically goes into flight or fight mode. Stress hormones like adrenaline, run rings around you. When stressed your body is in a high state of alert – trouble sleeping, change in appetite, fast or shallow breathing, struggling to make decisions, lacking focus – are just a few signs of stress.

It is incredibly difficult to learn, retain and recall information when your stressed so it is important to know how to relax. Here are our Top 3 Relaxation Tips that you can do even during an exam!

  1. Mindful Breathing. 

Breathe through your nose for the count of 5, then out through your mouth for the count of 5. Really focus on your breathing. This will help calm your thoughts and soon your brain will realise you’re not going to get eaten by lion (unless you are, then run.)

It’s a great, simply, subtle technique. No one needs to know you are breathing mindfully and it takes just a minute.

2. Mindful Listening. 

Close your eyes for 30 seconds and concentrate on all the sounds you can hear – a ticking clock, tapping of a pencil, a car passing, your own breathing. This will help to clear your mind, to slow down and to focus. Open your eyes and the world will be a little bit clearer.

3. The Ten Second Count

This is a variation of Tip 1 but rather than focusing on your breath, close your eyes and focus your attention on slowly counting to ten. If your concentration wanders start back at number one!

For more information about Memory Matters click here and don’t forget to check back this time next week for Step 2…!

2015 in Review

Education, Learning, Motivation, Study Skills, Teaching and Learning

2015 has been the year of lists. From the ‘to do’ list to the ‘great idea, let’s do it’ list, we have been one busy hive of activity. I can think of no better way to celebrate the year of 2015 but with a list!

  1. January and February: Cold, murky, mental months. We hit a record number of schools during this time and it was awesome.
  2. March: The final countdown to the Easter break and thus, revision workshops. We had to recruit more fabulous people to join our team to meet demand. Also awesome.
  3. April and May: A joyful blur. Develop new programmes. Assess impact. A chance to recoup, gather strength and pace.
  4. June: Proud to be part of the incredible Sunday Times Education Festival talking about inspiring a love of learning.
  5. July and August: Launch of our summer school programme. Results day. Holiday? Check.
  6. September: Kick -starting the new academic year with the Managing Director speaking at the National ResearchED conference. Launch of our new KS3 literacy and numeracy programme and Success Passports. In just 3 months they are now loved by over 50 schools across the UK.
  7. October: It was frightfully wicked with a meeting with Mr Nick Gibb MP.
  8. November: Unbelievable successful, busy month finished perfectly with our Presenter Conference
  9. December: Reflection, preparation. Festive frolics and many, many thanks for a joyful, inspirational year.
  10. Share a short, sweet, funny video of who we are. Done.

 

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See you in 2016.

Raising Literacy and Numeracy Standards

Creativity, Education, Learning, Literacy, Numeracy, Teaching and Learning

Last week I attended Inside Government’s Raising Literacy and Numeracy Standards Conference. As conferences go it was pretty feeble but there were some gems.

The star of the show was Kelvin Hall’s Headteacher, Sarah Smythe. In 2013 Kelvin Hall was labeled RI and by 2015 was rated Outstanding. She shared her experience. The best bit? The clear, definite statement from Sarah that there were “no magic tricks.” In fact, the school simplified things and focused on the following areas:

  1. Marking and Feedback – consistent
  2. Data Analysis – clearly defined bands
  3. High profile reading – Everyone Reads In Class
  4. TA Tutors – Period 6 was tutor time
  5. EPIC ERIC – the award winning fictional Kelvin Hall student!

Epic Eric is genius. Eric is a fictional Kelvin Hall student who is sucked into a portal transporting him to other dangerous, ghostly, pre-historic lands.

Students then have to complete certain literacy tasks, ranging from SPAG to cross devices, to submit golden tickets that allow Epic Eric to step into the next world.

They often receive 100s of gold tickets, their highest being almost 1500. It’s a whole school initiative with teachers dressing up as Epic Eric for World Book Day. It’s particularly effective in Key Stage 3 and has particularly helped to engage pupils in reading and writing.

Simple, wacky, creative. Effective. 

Wonder what Epic Eric looks like? He’s rather charming. Click here to see a past Epic Eric newsletter!

Incidentally, we worked with Kelvin Hall’s Year 11 students to help them prepare for exams in February 2015. That March they were rated Outstanding. A coincidence I’m sure…

Either way, it was enlightening learning from Sarah and Kelvin Hall’s journey. Thanks Sarah! Epic Eric

5 Things I Learnt from ResearchEd

Education, Learning, Teacher Resources, Teaching and Learning
  1. People are VERY precious over technology. 

I was part of a panel discussing “Is technology wasting our time?” My answer? Yes.

Most of my teaching career was spent in developing countries where too often technology was used as an attempt solve social issues. It’s exactly the same in the UK. We have an education system that fails almost half of its’ young people. We have questionable literacy and numeracy standards. We have been told our children are one of the unhappiest in the world. Technology can’t solve these issues, people can.

There is a huge difference between learning the digital tools of modern life and the critical skills needed. What about the basic maths to become an engineer? What about the communication skills to become a good doctor, teacher or alas, a human being? Technology can’t teach this, teachers can.

On top of all this, there is hardly any evidence that technology can improve pupil attainment but there is plenty of evidence that it can impede focus and thus results.

I argued it would be better to invest our time and money in people, as ultimately, no app or gadget will surpass the power of a teacher.

2. I didn’t think the above was particularly controversial. Oh, but it is. 

To the extent I was told that if technology doesn’t work in a school then it is the students, teachers and school’s fault. Right…

3. Everyone loves to tweet. 

As we were chatting I could see lots of people tweeting furiously, so once the panel was wrapped up I was keen to see what people were saying. There were a few tweets about my “poor pedagogy,” being the reason technology failed in my classroom. It’s a shame that this wasn’t raised during a panel where anything and everything is up for discussion. I would have enjoyed the challenge of such an argument. Then again this lack of face – to – face communication just helped to prove point 1, so thanks.

4. I didn’t think I would like Nick Gibb MP, but he was actually quite charming. 

The Labour member, Corbyn voter in me wanted to dislike this man intensely. Instead, I found myself nodding in agreement with many things he said and even laughed at his joke. My Grandmother would have been horrified. Sorry Gran.

Nick Gibb's speech "The Importance of the teaching profession."

Nick Gibb’s speech “The Importance of the teaching profession.”

5. We have an awesome, dedicated and passionate learning community.

I already knew this of course, but ResearchEd really bought it home. 700+ teachers giving up a Saturday, many travelling from a far, all there with a singular purpose to learn, to improve, to be the best teachers for their students. Not many industries could boast such a dedicated workforce.

The masses. Photo via @miss_mcinerney

The masses. Photo via @miss_mcinerney