Friday Mindset #119

Helping students get better at studenting

Happy Friday!

Let’s dive in…

Something to try...

Discussing implementation and change management with a group of leaders recently, we found ourselves focused on methods we might use to ‘take the temperature’ of a school - make an assessment of its learning culture. There were some obvious headline figures staff were well aware of: punctuality wasn’t where they wanted it to be. Attendance needed improvement; behaviour wasn’t right.

These are big headline measures - crucial as they are, they feel broad and blunt, and often hide a hundred smaller proxies for culture that can be way more interesting. So we ended up discussing this range of smaller measures; ones that might better evidence improvement when it comes - forerunners to the changes we want to see in these big headline measures.

Consider the following: what proportion of our sixth formers are choosing to work in the library? (And what connection - if any - is there between working in silence and academic success?) How many times has New Scientist been withdrawn? (By whom, and how are they currently performing in class?) How many students volunteered to help out at open evening - and how does this compare to last year?

Later, we remembered an online session where we’d covered the same ground, and managed to locate a recording. Here’s a five minute extract in which Martin discusses measuring micro-changes in culture and climate, both quantitative and qualitative… and the importance of feeding those changes back to staff. It helps strengthen engagement, ownership, buy-in and morale.

Maybe it could trigger some reflection or discussion:

Something we're reading...

This is a fascinating - and crucial - exploration of the current picture when it comes to revision in three UK schools, conducted by Exam Study Expert’s William Wadsworth and Alix Hibble. Yes, it’s a small sample, but we do a lot of this kind of work, and the results aren’t surprising; they’re pretty much in line with what we’ve seen too, particularly around spaced practice. You can either zoom into this image:

…or you can access your own copy - plus some background - here:

Either way, if you’re a team or senior leader in charge of outcomes across a key stage or in a department, this document will make a great starting point for a team meeting, round-table discussion, or staring point for a fact-finding mission in your own context and culture.

Our latest offer...

We’ve been buying and reading guide after guide about successful study at university. We’re trying to find a good one - a short, pithy, effective book which we can give to year 13 students in the autumn term as they put their UCAS applications together.

We haven’t found one yet. That’s not to say all we’ve bought and read so far are bad books - each of them have a least something to recommend them. But the search goes on. In the meantime, we’re going to be giving our mini-collection away to you guys. You can dish them out to your own year 13s as little prizes! This week, it’s Melissa Scallan’s Starting University.

All you have to do is be the first to email us at [email protected] once this newsletter hits your inbox. If you’re reading this and it’s before 3:45pm… you’re in with a chance! Go!

And that’s it for now, folks.

All the best to you and yours,

Steve, Tony and Martin


We love Adam Grant’s work. Way back when this newsletter was in it’s twenties or thirties, we recommended Originals, one of his best.

We spotted this on his X feed a few days ago, and it struck us…