Reflections on #teamenglish National conference

Subject specific CPD is where it is at. According to research, it is where teachers grow the most professionally and so it was with great excitement that I booked tickets to attend the first English National conference organised by Caroline Spalding and Rebecca Foster.

Choosing sessions is always tricky. Sometimes I am guided by the person. Sometimes I am guided by my school’s priorities. Sometimes I am guided by the things I want to develop. For the #teamenglish conference I was predominantly guided by my desire to improve how I teach transactional writing (I think it is a minefield) and I was desperate to see Lyndsey Caldwell.

Opening by Alex Quigley

  • Knowledge is power and reading is the master skill of school.

What are common problems facing English teachers and teachers in general?

  • My pupils don’t read widely enough;
  • My pupils struggle to write independently, especially in timed conditions;
  • My pupils don’t plan their writing;
  • My pupils cannot craft a sentence;
  • My pupils cannot punctuate accurately;
  • My pupils have a narrow vocabulary;
  • My pupils cannot spell complex words accurately and consistently;
  • My pupils cannot remember the knowledge for their examination;
  • My pupils don’t have enough background knowledge to access the text.

Good teaching boils down to explicit teaching, consistent application, deliberate practice.


Session 1: Louisa Enstone (Developing your confidence as a writing teacher)

Louisa is the Queen of writing. She now has an established website (which she only set up last week so will be a grower).

Why live writing?

  • Watch it happen
  • See the mechanics
  • Hear the rationale

We discussed how a lot of writing pieces in the examination are ‘ploddingly straightforward’.

It was raised (and I think it is a valid point) that the rigidity of the reading sections means pupils are in that zone for writing. We need to teach them to colour outside the lines.

Louisa does writing warm-ups. Short 10-15 minute bursts with a focus on crafting excellent phrases and sentences. She provided us with three examples:

  1. Provide pupils with a list of words (taken from a text you are studying) – ask pupils to join 2-3 words together but ensure that the joining of these words is out of the ordinary and creates a sense of mystery. Pupils should be considering ‘where would I go with that?’ Then ask pupils to write it down on a post it note, place on the board and then take someone else’s to carry it on. As an extension, compare / contrast with the writer’s original choices.
  2. People cut outs. Pupils receive a cut out and give the person a name. Swap. Next they give an age. Swap. Then the likes. Swap. Then the dislikes. Then you give pupils a scenario ‘You wake up late one morning….’ What would the first thought of this character be? Craft it. Good opportunity to discuss voice and get pupils going beyond their age and gender in their writing.
  3. Give pupils an object. Model describing the object – Louisa did this with colour, crafting phrases and being very particular about the details of the object (a good activity for asking pupils to zoom in). Personify the object. Imagine it lying on your floor. What would it be thinking?
  4. What one word would you use to describe your mood today? Why?

Louisa also talked about provided structure to the pupils but sentence structures. For the mood task above she gave pupils the following structure:

  1. If I had one word to describe my day
  2. It all started…
  3. It was…
  4. I was…
  5. -ing verb
  6. The…
  7. -ing verb….
  8. Only…
  9. As I said…


Session 2: Matt Pinkett (Chopping down AFOREST)

I’ve fallen a little bit in love with Matt after his session yesterday. It’s not something he will want to hear LOL but he was just brilliant.

He made a convincing case for binning AFOREST and much discussion since the exam series has been about pupils’ writing being too mechanistic and that this is dangerous and we need to move away from this.

So he spoke of rhetoric and the three proofs: ethos, logos and pathos. And this is just a superb way in to all teaching of transactional writing.

Ethos – credibility, the I, the expert

Logos – the reasons and the logic behind something

Pathos – the feelings you want to evoke


Matt talked through a structure for rhetoric writing which I am going to begin to think about using:

Exordium – hook (ethos)

Narratio – narrative (facts, less personal and more a collective understanding (ethos again and a bit of logos))

Divisio – division – acknowledging the counter argument – what you agree with? What you disagree with?

Proof – your argument (ethos / logos)

Refutation – smash the opponent’s view (Matt argued this should follow the Divisio)

Peroration – end emotively (pathos)


He then went on to talk about some key techniques he uses. I loved the idea of the flipped anecdote in which you start with an anecdote at the beginning of your piece and then you flip the anecdote at the end to reinforce your argument.

Matt referred to The Elements of Eloquence which is a great book and ran through the same techniques. It occurred to me at that point, that the techniques explored in the book would form great Writing Warm Ups as advocated by Louisa.

Matt’s rhetoric booklet is available from his Twitter page.


Session 3 – Lyndsey Cadwell (Leading the Research Focused English Department).

I chose this session because of Lyndsey. #teamenglish came back buzzing from ResearchEd Rugby after seeing her and so I feel like I had been waiting a year for my opportunity to listen to her talk.

Lyndsey is meticulous and strategic in her planning. She began by stating that we should ‘Do what is going to make the most difference right now’ whilst acknowledging we can’t do it all. Lyndsey’s decisions and planning is underpinned by her thinking that ‘Every change that has been made is making things better for the teachers in the classroom.’

As a result, Lyndsey identified three key priorities:

  1. Prioritise knowledge – Lyndsey spoke about minimal units to support deeper learning, cultural capital (choice of text is critical) – what is it we want our children to know before leaving our school? What narrative does your curriculum tell?, knowledge organisers, scripting the stories of authors
  2. Crafted direct instruction – vocabulary and a systematic approach to teaching vocabulary, providing pupils with a booklet of sentence starters for different types of writing, direct instructions on Youtube
  3. Standardised assessments

What came across more than anything was the amount of Research Lyndsey had completed in order to frame her curriculum and the practice within it. Within the session she cited: What makes great teaching? Why students don’t like school? Seven Myths about Education. The Matthew Effect. Peps McCrea. Daisy C and so on and so on. Her thinking had been careful and meticulous in order to provide an incredible strong curriculum and approach to curriculum.


Session 4 – Patrice Miller (Modelling writing)

This was a discussion-based session exploring all facets of modelling. Questions provided included: do we currently model? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? And this instigated some good discussions.

I was able to make a number of reflections during this session:

  1. I am more nervous of modelling writing than I am reading. In reading, there are set structures and I find analysis easier. For me, there is a vulnerability when modelling writing.
  2. This led to a debate on preparing responses ahead of a lesson to model to pupils. I think it is helpful to build teacher confidence but it is also important for pupils to see the thought-processes that teachers go through, even when this includes the struggle.
  3. Pupils need to be exposed to great models. Having examined this year, I have realised that I haven’t really exposed my pupils enough to models that are 500-600 words in length – the length we would expect them to write in an exam. I think there is a point about this in terms of really focusing in on how writers create shape within such a short piece of writing and so I am definitely planning to do this more next year.

Again, Patrice advocated model – practice – reflect as a structure to use.


Closing speech – Lindsay Skinner

A passionate speech about serving the most disadvantaged and the belief we have to have that we can close the gap. She spoke about why it is so difficult to close the gap and citied the following reasons:

  • Nutrition
  • Vocabulary deficit
  • Cultural deficit
  • Poorer health
  • At risk of exclusion
  • High absence rate
  • Lower level of literacy
  • Low expectations

And called English teachers to arms to impact upon some of the difficulties above.


At the start of the day Alex very wisely said, don’t rush back to your schools and implement any of the ideas from today, tomorrow. Instead, think, consider, reflect and identify your priorities for next year. Strategic thinking is key.

I am creating my own professional development target for next year – to improve how I teach transactional writing. I am going to weave the nuggets I got from today over the summer into a cohesive strategy which I will embed with my classes next year.

Thank you for an excellent day.  I am begging the other presenters to upload their presentations – so many other sessions I wish I could have attended.  One thing that did strike me was the consistency of messages.  #Teamenglish is a very research-informed group of people and therefore we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.  We are lucky to have each other and I hope Twitter and #teamenglish continues to go from strength to strength as a platform for sharing, collaboration and support.

Looking forward to flying back to the UK for next year’s conference.


Breaking the mould

Disclosure: this is an honest blog.  I’m not sure everyone will like that.

Over the wall, I see my future standing tall.

Over the wall, I can’t believe I could have it all

So I’ll keep climbing and climbing and climbing.

(The Wall, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie)

I’ve broken the mould. This year, I’ve done something I don’t think many people thought I would. I’ve walked away from a school that I have loved and sacrificed my life for, for the past 5 years.

Despite suffering a lack of confidence, I put in an application to a truly outstanding school with an experienced English department and incredible outcomes. I chose a school with my own development in mind. Honestly, I didn’t think I stood a chance. And, then – quite unbelievably – they chose me to come and join them.

Today’s WomenEd event has been all about Breaking the Mould and as someone who is going through a transition process, this day could not have come at a better time.

It’s been a terrible year. This year I’ve been Director of Learning, Director of English, KS4 lead for some of it, literacy lead, mentor to three new entrants to the profession, tutor and taught 20/30 lessons every week. The job has been too big for one person and I’ve felt like a constant failure.  I’ve been a constant failure.  My inner voice has been telling me I’m a rubbish teacher, a rubbish leader of ‘learning’, a rubbish Director of English, a rubbish lead on literacy, a rubbish mentor and a rubbish tutor.

It has left me sad.

It has left me depressed.

It has left me incredibly unhappy.

But something magical happens the minute you hand your notice in. You alleviate yourself of the pressure. You stand back. You take stock. You realise that it isn’t you that has failed but that, rather, other people have failed you. And whilst that isn’t ok, it is something you can get over and be at peace about.

I’ve been fairly poorly recently and slightly burnt out (as many of us are when y11 leave) but this has given me time to stop, stand still and strip back.  I’ve also had some people say some quite profound things to me and, coupled with yesterday’s event, I’ve been considering what I have learnt recently and the key pledges I want to make to myself, moving forward.  Here they are.

No job.  No job title. No promotion. No responsibility is more important than being happy. If you are not happy, something must change.

Alison Kriel talking about fit made me realise that I just don’t ‘fit’ my school anymore. It’s a shame to think like that because once upon a time I did but it’s ok.  But the great thing about having a job is that you are under no pressure to take a job and finding the right job is so very vitally important. I knew I wanted to work in a school that’s research informed, where I will be nurtured and that has high challenge but low threat. I’ve found that school. It’s a superb school and I know it will be the right school for me.

Let your inner voice be healthy. A year filled with doubt has meant my inner voice has been quite destructive to my confidence. And when you couple that with a world made up of egotists and a high level of accountability, it can be hard to shift this.   However, over the past two weeks I have been unwell and very tired and this has given me time to re-evaluate. I am a brilliant teacher. The reason I am a brilliant teacher is because I don’t claim to know it all. I read. I research. I then consider before adapting my practice. But I adapt my practice. I am flexible because I want to learn and I want to grow. Now if you put this teacher in a brilliant environment, amazing things will happen. I know it. My inner voice is going to be healthy now. I am going to let it champion myself. Not to the egotistical state that I have come to loathe but enough so that I can hold my head high and talk myself up, rather than be quick to talk myself down.

Letting it go. Amazing things happen when you also let stuff go. Over the past two weeks, I’ve stepped back from my role and from Twitter. I’ve stepped back and I’ve watched. It’s been fascinating. People are very, very uptight. Very uptight. People are also full of ego. Power battles are happening everywhere within education (both offline and on). Once upon a time, I’d find myself thinking about that more than I should. Over the past two weeks, I’ve observed this. I haven’t acted. I’ve just sat back and watched. (If you know me, you will have known this has taken some strength ha ha). And then I’ve walked away and I can’t tell you how much lighter and happier I feel. Blocking out the negativity. Blocking out the egos. Blocking out the confrontations can do wonders for your well-being. If people want to be uptight, let them. If people want to be seen to be doing far more than you, let them. If people want their voice to be the loudest, let them. If people want to be the font of all knowledge, let them. If people want to be spiky with others for the sake of being spiky, let them. If people want to be the most popular, let them. Because let me tell you, something amazing happens when you let go of the control of trying to manage it all and the accompanying sensitivity. Amazing things happen when you stop thinking about others and just focus on yourself. There is a lightness. A happiness. A freedom.

Instead focus on your positives. Tell them to yourself. Be proud of your successes. This time of year is the most perfect time for this as we reflect upon 2017/2018. Here goes

  1. I’ve led a dept from Inadequate to Good. My goodness trawling back through the emails from the past 5 years, I can’t tell you the work that has gone on to this. I’ve set a very good foundation for things to move forward.
  2. My year 11 classes this year were incredible. Hoping for great things.
  3. I have made our dept research informed. Blimey oh riley – knowledge organisers, memory platforms, weekly knowledge testing and other quizzing, interleaving, green penning, quizlet for quotation retention, booklets that are becoming more knowledge rich, whole class feedback.
  4. I see the spark of research beginning to fire off in others. I sent a colleague to Pixl English last week and she came back buzzing. I used to get laughed at for going to Sat CPD. Genuinely, I was laughed at for reading Dickens’ biography before planning a unit on A Christmas Carol. Next Sat, however, I have half the team coming with me to Team Eng National Conference. The tide has turned.
  5. I spoke out about the frequency of assessment and the unnecessariness of it all. I got told a blank no. I spoke out again. And again. When I disagree with something (mainly because I have staff wellbeing at the forefront of my mind), I have been vocal. Now, it seems as though there will be less summative assessments next year. This is really positive.
  6. Whole class marking feedback that I introduced within my faculty has gone whole school. English came out top in the book ‘scrutiny’.
  7. The whole school is adopting the approach in English of having a notebook/booklets and an assessment only book.
  8. I wrote the faculty review (something I am proud and not proud of in equal measure).
  9. I led to quote ‘the two best CPD sessions this year’ – a session on our ‘Why’ and a teachmeet.
  10. I’ve recruited amazing staff and watched them sparkle.
  11. I’ve attended CPD after CPD after CPD after CPD. I’ve learnt so much.

And last but not least, I’ve kept my integrity.

Debra Kidd spoke about not fitting in. I think a lot of that sometimes is because ‘mavericks’ are so called because they aren’t necessarily yes people. I’m not a yes person. I’m a yes person if it will benefit the pupils and has staff wellbeing at the heart of it. Otherwise, I will speak out. I’m incredibly honest. You can see it on my face, you can see it on my body and you can hear it coming from my tongue. At my age, selfishness, dishonesty and egos are things I despise. There needs to be more candour as Katharine B would say. Sometimes, often – in fact, I’ve found people don’t like the truth. Instead, they will surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear.  And often, I’ve realised this is because of a deep-rooted insecurity or fear.  Instead, we must encourage honesty with ourselves (without the destructive inner voice taking over) and honesty with each other, especially if we genuinely want to move forward.

So…what now?

  1. Move to my new school. A school with an excellent reputation and amazing outcomes and an incredibly experienced English department who I can learn from.
  2. Soak this environment up. Learn from it. Enjoy being within it. High challenge, low threat.
  3. Read more, learn more, adapt more. Continue to be research informed.
  4. Enjoy the coaching programme. Soak up the support. Soak up the feedback. Soak up the advice.
  5. Use all of the above to rebuild my self-esteem and my confidence.
  6. WomenEd Italy. WomenEd is such an empowering and supportive network. So many of the women in WomenEd have been there for me recently and I’ve come to realise the power of the network. I can’t wait to be part of WomenEd Italy.

Someone took me to one side last week and told me how lovely it was to see the old Freya coming back. That despite being really poorly, I looked as though a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and the sparkle was returning.

I am ready for that sparkle to shimmer. I saw the musical ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ this week. One of the numbers is called Spotlight and includes the line ‘Out of the Darkness, Into the Spotlight.’ Next year is going to be my year. Bring it on.




The Curriculum: Gallimaufry to coherence

I love Mary Myatt. This is because Mary has this aurora of absolute fierceness fuelled by her passion for education but she tempers this with an incredible sense of compassion and empathy for educators. Her books are about rigour and the highest of expectations but having these whilst also being kind to yourself.

I started reading ‘The Curriculum – Gallimaufry to coherence’ yesterday and finished it this morning. What I particularly love about Mary Myatt’s writing is that you are offered a concise overview of such complex matters. Chapters are short and within each there are nuggets to digest and chew over as we head into a new academic year.

So what are my main takeaways?

What curriculum is

I love this from page 14 when talking about curriculum: ‘The reduction in bulk is important; there is strong evidence of teachers moving with undue, enforced pace through an overladen curriculum…deep learning must be a principal goal of the national curriculum, with learners able to retain and transfer learning.’

This idea of deep learning has really come to the forefront over the past couple of years. Long gone are curriculum maps with six distinct units (one for each half term) and in its place 2-3 units that enable teachers to explore texts at a ‘deeper level.’ Retention has also become a core focus with the new linear GCSEs: knowledge organisers, low stakes quizzing, self-quizzing, recap questions are all now common features within most curriculums.

I am, however, now more interested in this idea of transference and actually, my second takeaway, purpose.

I don’t think I am great at purpose. I rarely refer to learning goals, for example. But there is an interesting point to consider about the ‘Why am I teaching this?’ that goes beyond the ‘because it is on the GCSE specification.’

This has prompted my thinking with An Inspector Calls which I am teaching in September. So, besides being on the IGCSE spec, why should we be teaching An Inspector Calls?

My answer is that An Inspector Calls is a powerful text. It is a text about social injustice – a topic that is just as relevant today as it was back then. If I can inspire my pupils about social injustice and the power of literature to act as markers of this, then their reading of this text will surely be enhanced. Now you may argue that this is something you automatically teach when you teach AIC but actually this has made me consider my way in to the text. That I need to do a couple of lessons on social injustice before we begin our reading of the play. I’m thinking pictures of MLK, Anne Frank, Emmeline Pankhurst and associated texts to discuss why MLK made his speech, why Anne Frank wrote her diary etc and the power of literature in documenting these moments and pushing society on (arguably!) I’m then thinking I will want to show pupils images of poverty, of racism etc from the present to discuss how relevant social injustice is today and whether documentation of these events is enough. After this, I can begin to look at JB Priestley and his ideological standpoint about society during the time of his writing of AIC.

Transference of knowledge

‘Knowing things helps us to know more things. Knowing things helps us to connect with previous knowledge and to make connections. Knowing things makes us feel clever.’

This is something I don’t think I’ve nailed (as teacher and as a Subject Lead, currently).

We have thought about how KS3 prepares pupils for KS4. We teach Our Day Out to prepare for Blood Brothers and Oliver Twist to prepare for A Christmas Carol. It is also true that when teaching Blood Brothers, we can connect a lot of knowledge with A Christmas Carol and make references back and forth. But I feel like more could be done. I’m not a Subject Lead next year so I am interested to see how it works at my new school before I ponder this one further.

Independence within the curriculum.

Independence is a key quality valued in IB learners and I am keen to develop how I support my pupils to be independent.

I love the idea of wider reading to enhance cultural capital and support what is done in lessons and Mary references a Geography teacher (I think?) who sets a University essay each week for her y9/GCSE pupils.

I also love the idea on page 65 which references Feynman. When making notes, ‘a student would put a query or a question mark against the elements he wasn’t sure about. These were the areas for him to go back and revisit.’ I really like this idea of encouraging this active reading and inquisitive state of mind – that perhaps the text is the starting point and more can be learnt independently. Creating a culture in which pupils feel comfortable saying that they don’t know could also be fostered through this explicit method of noting.


‘When I have to explain and justify my answer to someone else, I am having to dig deeper into the underlying structures to my argument.’

I completely agree with this and want to read up a bit more on using oracy within the classroom to support extended writing.


I am really interested in writing. Having spent 3 years looking at reading and embedding a number of strategies within our academy (some successful, some less so), I am really keen to develop my approach to writing and am still working my way through The Writing Revolution. Having also examined, I understand Mary’s point about the mechanical rather than the voice and the shape and I really want to consider this further. I like the summary of The Writing Revolution on page 119: ‘Writing is underpinned by six principles: pupils need explicit instruction in writing; sentences are the building blocks of all writing; when embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool; the content of the curriculum drives the rigour of the writing activities; grammar is best taught in the context of student writing and the two more important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.’

Next year, I’m hoping to do a lot more reading around the area of writing so watch this space.

There are some fantastic sections on leadership and curriculum later on in the book but I am stepping away from leadership for a while so am focusing on how I can develop my classroom-based practice.

A brilliant book with lots of food for thought as I plan ahead to 2018-2019.

The importance of Do it Now tasks in aiding short-term and long-term recall and retention.

Last year, our then deputy, Michael Goves, introduced a lesson framework to the academy for teaching that consisted of a Do it now, the imparting of new knowledge, pen to paper practice and then a reflection.

Having read Andy Tharby’s brilliant blog ‘Memory Platforms’, the English Department had already begun to use quick-fire comprehension questions at the start of lessons to test pupils’ recall.

Yesterday, the incredible Jo Facer blogged about her use of Do it nows as a retention tool but also as an opportunity to continue to address key concepts pupils have struggled with.

Having used Do it nows in this way, there is definitely some benefit to this in terms of aiding pupils’ retention and recall and enhancing their understanding of texts. However, I have come to realise that there are other aspects that we need pupils to recall as well.

Therefore, from September as we re-draft our booklets, we will use comprehension quick-fire questions to test our pupils’ short term recall of texts they are currently studying and focus on quotation retention (pupils will have studied these as part of their homework programme) and planning grids (original idea by Laura Lolder) to aid pupils’ long term recall of the texts they have previously studied and prepare them for the skills required in the examination.

Quotation recall is needed in order to access the top band and a member of #teamenglish did a statistical analysis of her results last year that revealed the more quotations embedded within the response, the higher the eventual outcome.  I’ve found that pupils who learn their quotations through Quizlet also develop their ability to retrieve key details of the narrative.  Therefore, whilst this year we have used these alongside recap questions, for me, the recap questions have become somewhat redundant.

Instead, I’ve begun to use more planning grids.  These are exceptional resources in helping pupils to gain more confidence in their approach to part (b) questions, the Modern Drama text and the poetry response.  Using these to ensure pupils can recall examples (and then quotations) has meant pupils are continually thinking about texts previously studied and developing their ideas.

Here is an example of what this might look like:Macbeth retention

Retention of ACC and BB

At the moment I have recap questions, quotation retention and planning grids pencilled in at the start of every lesson. This might be slightly too ambitious so may look to flip between quotation and planning grids every other lesson.

In addition, I loved the idea presented during Claire Hill and Rebecca Foster’s session at yesterday’s Research Ed in ensuring the comprehension questions tagged into the different AOs being tested so am going to redraft ours. I think this is a brilliant idea and a brilliant method in not only ensuring retention of texts but also maintaining a focus on the different AOs and enabling pupils to have the practice they need with this.


As ever, a work in progress.

My work with Quizlet – quotation retention

There is no doubt the embedding of short, concise quotations throughout literature responses supports pupils to hit Band 5. A member of #teamenglish did a study of her own responses last year and found that the more quotations embedded, the higher the overall level.

Memorisation, however, is not a skill that teachers have had to support pupils with to the extent that we find ourselves doing so now.

This has been a significant barrier for us. Pupils knowing and retaining key quotations that they can interleave throughout their answers has been a great concern. With six weeks to go until the exams and my confidence in pupils’ knowledge of the texts waning, I decided to turn to Quizlet to aid quotation retention and, boy, am I glad I did.

In the space of six weeks, pupils have gone from knowing 5 quotations to 50, to 60, to 70, to 80 and beyond and with it our chances of gaining those top grades ever increasing.

Quizlet is an online flashcard tool. Costing only £35 for the teacher version for a year, this is an absolute steal.  Pupils set their own accounts up and request to join your class.  There is also a mobile app which a significant number of my pupils downloaded on to their phones for testing on the go.

You can set up as many classes as you wish and create as many sets as you want to.


Creating a study set

Creating a study set is easy. Identify the text you want pupils to learn quotations for and choose your key quotations. Then divide your flashcard into two: the first half of the quotation on one side and the second half of the quotation on the other side.

Q1 (2)

How does it support pupils to learn key quotations?


Quotations are provided to pupils on flashcards to support them as they start to learn a key quotation.

Q4 (2)


A voice reads the first part of the quotation and asks you to write down what you hear. This has a focus on ensuring pupils know correct pronunciation and can spell the words correctly

Q5 (2)


A range of activities supporting pupils to learn the quotations you have provided.

  1. Match the start and the end of the quotation
  2. Complete the quotation



If you should get it wrong, Quizlet has you write it out again. (Beware it is funny about capital letters and punctuation, so it has to be spot on – something my pupils found frustrating!)


Quotations come down from up above and pupils need to type in the quotation half before it reaches the bottom.

Q6 (2)


A personal favourite of ours which gets INCREDIBLY competitive. Pupils try to match start and end of quotations as quickly as possible. I genuinely cannot understand how some pupils do this in less than 5 seconds.  A league table helps make it even more competitive.

Q7 (2)


Once pupils have completed all the activities, then they are ready to test. The test takes a variety of different forms as you can see below.

Q8 (2)

But why the teacher package?

  1. You can see who is quizzing and who isn’t quizzing.

Quizlet provides quick information about who has completed activities within your class and who has tested. It also tells you the test score, so you can really see who is learning their quotations and who needs to continue to revise more. (I’ve removed our pupils’ names / usernames)

Q9 (2)

2. You can see which quotations pupils are retaining and which quotations pupils are not. This helps inform my in-class testing and retrieval practice.

Q10 (2)

These tests are then reinforced with weekly paper-based tests which are provided to pupils.

Q11 (2)

As pupils gain confidence with quotations, quotations are dropped off and the next set of quotations are brought in.

In addition, we are building in a quotation retention section in our medium term plans so this becomes ingrained within our practice.

Unlike my colleague, Iain, I have not successfully captured before and after data which I am kicking myself about. However, I have seen an increase in quotation retention and my pupils’ confidence has sky-rocketed. I am hoping that, in actual fact, the results in the summer will speak for themselves.



Iain’s work on vocabulary

This blog is a thank you to Iain Kemp – a Teach First participant who joined us this year. At the start of the academic year, Iain and I were sat down having our mentor meeting when we got on to the topic of vocabulary. Both Iain and I shared the viewpoint that pupils within our academy were word poor and we were keen to address this. I asked Iain to go away and read Isabella Beck’s ‘Bringing Words to Life’ and come back with a strategy for improving our pupils’ vocabulary. And he did. Not only did he read Isabella Beck’s book but he also researched vocabulary instruction through blogs and other research papers.

Iain drew up a rationale for a vocabulary strategy and presented this to the department. A four-lesson sequence, embedding some of the activities as suggested in the literature he had read.

Lesson 1:

Exercise 1 – An introduction to the words (these were a mixture of tier 2 words taken from the texts we study and words that would empower pupils to analyse texts) with a definition.

Exercise 2 – Look, cover, write and check.

V1 (2).jpg

Lesson 2:

Exercise 1 – Look, cover, write and check

Exercise 2 – reading the definitions of words and identifying the correct word to go with it.

v2 (2)

Lesson 3:

Exercise 1 – Look, cover, write and check

Exercise 2 – pupils had to match the key words to one of two definitions or descriptions

v3 (2)

Lesson 4:

Exercise 1 – Look, cover, write and check

Exercise 2 – pupils had to label a diagram with one of the key words.

v4 (2)

These four exercises were then embedded through the KS3 units of work.

A few months down the road, I was having a conversation with Iain and we were talking about the success of the vocabulary instruction at the start of every lesson. I expressed to Iain my uncertainty about the impact it was having. Were the words featuring, as a result, in pupils’ responses and were they retaining these words over a longer period of time?

I asked Iain to share the work he had done with the department.  In the meeting, Iain shared sentences that pupils had used within their most recent assessment where the vocabulary from the Do it now tasks had been embedded in their written responses.  Some of our lowest attaining pupils were embedding the vocabulary throughout.  Success!  Iain also provided the results of his testing of these words showing that all pupils were developing their understanding and use of these key words.

v5 (2)Iain has now been tasked with ensuring this impact is department wide and that we continue to develop pupils’ retention of these words over a longer period of time. I can’t wait to see where he takes this.

Alongside this, the department are currently reading ‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap’ and we are incredibly focused, as we move in to term 6 and ‘gained time’ that we really work on identifying our 300-400 words that we want our pupils to be exposed to over the year. Our new Medium-Term-Plan structure enables clarity with regard to these words.

V6 (2).jpg

The tier two words are tackled through Iain’s four lesson structure.

The subject terminology will be addressed in a strategy developed by Michaela where by pupils at the start of the lesson offer a definition of the key word in a very quick and rapid-fire way. Something we did at the start of the year but have lost along the way.

V7 (2)

We now need to focus, as a department, on academic vocabulary and sentencing.  And I will be exploring a tutor time based root / prefix / suffix programme in my role as Lit Co-Ordinator.  Lots more to ponder and work through in term 6.

Massive thanks to Iain for his hard work.





A week at the Welly – the college, not the academy

I am your working-class girl. FSM, raised by parents for some years on benefits. I’m proud to be working class and I’m proud to say I have grafted hard to end up where I am.

I could only dream of studying at a private school where fees range from between £10,000 to £80,000 for a year’s education.

Now, I find myself working in an academy (state) that is sponsored by a private (independent) school and I am fascinated by the cross-over between the two sectors.

I have had the privilege of being at Wellington College this week to accompany 25 of my pupils at an Easter revision session. Initially hesitant to attend, mainly as a result of low confidence, I told my pupils that I would accompany them as long as they promised me they would go.

The fear and lack of confidence is down to the intimidating nature of a private school for those who normally wouldn’t have access to it. Some of it is generated through a lack of self-worth: that you aren’t good enough or that you don’t belong or that you really are out of place because in normal circumstances, you wouldn’t find yourself there. I get that. I feel it every time I come up. As I walk up the drive way, I really feel intimidated by the college’s grandeur and I actually felt incredibly nervous the hours before we left to come here for the week.

However, as a teacher now, I am equally fascinated. I’m fascinated by the offering of the college – and the differences that exist between the private and the state sector. I want to find out what we can learn and what we can take from the private sector to embed within our system and our classrooms. And finally, I am continually reassured by how similar we are too. We are all, in fact, trying to find our way through this muddy puddle that is the new GCSE specification.

So what have I learnt this week and what shall I be taking away….


Yes, it’s boarding but I have been so intrigued by breakfast. Every morning I have sat down with my pupils at 8.15 to breakfast. Two things have struck me about this:

Firstly, every pupil is having breakfast. They are eating the most important meal of the day which is preparing them suitability for the study that they face that day. All have eaten. All have had a suitable drink.

Secondly, everyone comes together before the studying begins. There is a really lovely social aspect – pupils and teachers talk which is lovely in itself but, in addition, the social aspect has been dealt with before lessons begin.

I want to really think about how, as a state school, we can ensure all our pupils have a good breakfast at the start of the day. Obviously, we rely on parents to ensure this happens. We have a boarding house where we can be sure those pupils have a breakfast. We have a café where we sell breakfast items. But I’m still certain there are pupils who don’t eat breakfast and this must have an impact on their output during the day. Maybe, instead of community lunch, there could be a community breakfast. A tutor slot first thing in the morning combined with breakfast – an opportunity to be social and ensure all have eaten well for the day ahead. A radical idea, perhaps but I’ve truly seen the positive impact of breakfast this week.  Maybe, just opening our tutor rooms for this purpose might also have the same impact.  Something to trial next term I reckon.

Traditional teaching.

I’ve seen a lot of traditional teaching this week. This is a thumbs up from me. No gimmicks, no group work, no mix and matching etc etc. Just secure subject knowledge explained well and lots of time for pupils to apply what they have learnt independently. I’ve seen pupils blossom because they have been taught the knowledge they need and they have made the relevant notes and they have been given the opportunity to apply that knowledge. Knowledge matters and it’s fair to say I’ve been pushing the knowledge agenda at our academy since my visit to Michaela so am glad to see this is the essence of great teaching here. What I did find interesting though is the real reality that we have to create the conditions for this knowledge to be imparted. At the start of the week, there were times when I noticed pupils found it hard to listen. They were not used to the volume of information being conveyed and found it overwhelming. As the week has gone on, the pupils have reflected on how much they have learnt, how many notes they have and have really started to listen more. In addition, pupils will also reflect that they are not currently in an environment where distractions are present. Everyone here is focused, willing to work because they want to learn and do better. In an inclusive sector that is not always the case. We need to consider how we train, yes train, pupils to listen and to be silent so that knowledge can be imparted and the speed of learning can increase. I’ve been advocating this – silence – at the academy and will continue to have this as a key driver with our department.

Interestingly, when discussing knowledge with a year 11 pupil, I discovered that he supports a three-year KS4 – stressing the importance of getting the core content down by year 10 so year 11 is about testing and practice. I am currently testing early entry with a more able group and am seeing a range of benefits to this so one perhaps I need to give greater pondering time to.


Lots of modelling – the whiteboards the college have are really useful in 1. Teachers modelling structures (particularly in English) and working through their ideas. 2. Pupils having the opportunity to write on the whiteboards to develop their ideas. There is something about pupils using the whiteboards that I have undervalued up until this week – I think it has something to do with pupils being able to rub something out if they don’t like it which has helped to foster confidence and develop their responses. I think we need to strongly consider this in the state sector. I feel our pupils need a safe space where they can try out their ideas, make errors and still develop until they find the way they really want to articulate themselves. For this reason, I would love whiteboards somewhere in my classroom (just not all four walls).


The quick turn around of work. So ok…this is not an easily solvable one for me. This week my pupils have been taught in groups of 8 ish so this is fairly easy to do – when you teach 50 year 11s it is a lot harder. However, there is no denying the motivation of pupils when they receive a numerical mark back. I have been summoned countless times this week by pupils so that they can share their grade / mark with me. Now this is mainly because I am the world’s harshest marker and my pupils are far more brilliant than I give them credit for but their confidence has grown as they see tangible improvement. So whilst I complete examiner training and try and work through the fact I expect my pupils to write a thesis before I give them a grade 9, I also want to consider how we can physically mark and return as quickly so that pupils can really see and feel their growth. My current thinking is a combined programme of assessment with an increased use of peer assessment which is something I am trialling / embedding / developing at KS3 this term.

Long study days

It’s been hard. I haven’t even been teaching or attending all lessons but I have been working when pupils have been in lessons and I. Am. Tired. The pupils are tired. The day is long. Pupils have completed eight lessons a day and prep. Now, a normal school day is six lessons and prep and activities. The pupils are mixed about this. Some are tired and have reflected that it feels a bit like all work and no play. Some pupils, however, love the structure of the day and the routine of study. School is, however, about study and they have reflected upon how much they have achieved whilst being here.


Yep. I am an advocate of homework. I cannot bear the thought that pupils confine learning to the classroom environment. Nope sorry. Pupils need to study at home. A lot. If they want to be successful that is. This week pupils have completed an hour and a half of prep every day. Now some have really done this well and others, less so – Netflix and facetime have got in the way BUT I am a big fan of this. At the academy, in English, we have gone to Knowledge Organisers (for homework we expect pupils to learn a section a week), Pixl Independence booklets which are just brilliant and Quizlet for quotation retention. What I have seen here is prep (and I love prep as a word instead of homework because of its connotations) is about revision and reviewing content from the lessons that day. It is self-directed and is reliant on pupils being able to do this.  Some of my pupils have struggled with this because it is unfamiliar to them so we need to look at how we can scaffold this – to begin with at least.

Support systems

I’ve been amazed by these. I’ve had two moments this week where a teacher has requested support with a particular child. No biggie but support has been requested. Within 5 minutes, three teachers have responded and the situation has been dealt with. That level of community and help has just blown my mind. The support has been pupil focused – we want to help / how can we help and it’s just bowled me over.  Of course, we have support in the state sector but I wonder if we are all just a little bit more pressed and the requests for help are of a greater frequency that that immediate response from many isn’t always as possible.  Nipping problems in the bud are really evident here and something I am going to ponder over.

I’ve also loved being in the V and A this week. The number of times staff from the college and other schools have stopped by and sat down for a chat has been lovely. There has been a real focus when these opportunities have arisen on teaching and learning. I’ve spoken about the new specifications, the difference a linear GCSE has made and the implications for teaching, how we support pupils in retaining information. What we need to do – she laughs a little here – is find time within all of our schools for these dialogues to take place. I can’t remember the last time I sat down with a cup of coffee (aside from a formal meeting) to discuss our core purpose just because we could. Let’s find this time….coffee, cake and chin wags.


I’ve seen pupils flourish this week because the expectations of them have been high, their learning has been knowledge rich and immediate feedback has enabled them to see tangible improvement.  This has led to greater confidence.  We still have a long way to go in ensuring all pupils feel confident in themselves regardless of ability or income.  This will have the greatest impact on educational success.

So what have been the downsides?

I think, for me, my confidence in myself has been tested. I know I am a harsh marker and I just worry that I have destroyed some of my pupils’ confidence as a result. It’s been brilliant to see them all getting those top marks but difficult at the same time because I feel I’ve been way too harsh on them.  Good surprise in the summer I keep telling myself.

In addition, there is no set way to teach the GCSE and I have seen different approaches taken here at the college. Whilst they don’t invalidate what I do, they make me question what I do and therefore make me a little nervous. Wouldn’t it be great, if there was a set approach for everyone to take?

Anyhow, I have absolutely loved my week here. Although I haven’t been present in all the lessons, I’ve been able to do a lot of observing and reflecting. I think we have a lot to learn from the private sector (and vice versa) and, as ever, I would love for us to work together more, if time weren’t a major factor.

Thank you so much for an incredible learning week and for being amazing hosts.

KS3 curriculum blog

So we began this process nearly two and a half years ago and we are finally getting to the point where we have a curriculum which we think is fit for purpose and has lasting power.

Progression map

The first thing I did when the new specifications were announced was to look at the AO breakdown and the specimen assessment materials to have an understanding of the core skills being assessed and to what degree. I popped these onto a document and then, using old style APP, tracked these skill sets / AOs back so that we could provide a cohesive narrative across the three key stages.

Progression map 1

progression map 2

This progression map helps staff create learning goals; focus on the development of specific skills and supports our approach to assessment using Learning / Mastering and Extending.  It really underpins everything that we do and is looped through the planning, work with pupils and our assessment process.


Deciding upon the curriculum

We then sat down as a department to arrive at our curriculum. As a Head of Department, it has always been instrumental to me for a department to plan a curriculum together, so it was nice for our KS3 lead to lead on a shared approach to curriculum planning with the team.  Everyone had input.  We decided upon our key core texts and tagged the AOs to the units, establishing core tasks.

What did we decide?

  1. Because our team is relatively new – made up of NQTs, Teach-first, graduate assessment only etc, we decided we were all going to teach the same units to share expertise and resourcing.
  2. We wanted pupils to read a range of texts and fore-fronted all of the planning with our text choices.
  3. We wanted to prepare pupils for GCSE but not teach the GCSE in KS3. We decided to teach Oliver Twist to prepare pupils for A Christmas Carol and Our Day Out to prepare pupils for Blood Brothers.
  4. We wanted knowledge to take more of a leading role.

What we arrived at was 4 lessons focused on a literary text teaching both reading and writing and 1 lesson which alternated between a library/reading lesson and a knowledge / drilling lesson.

Where has my thinking changed this year?

After stepping back into the Head of Department position, alongside my Teaching and Learning role, I have been thinking and reflecting upon what has been working for us and what hasn’t.

What is working?

  • We are teaching great texts with great scope
  • We’ve really focused on reading skills and pupils have greater confidence with language and structure and writing well-organised responses.
  • The knowledge lessons have really helped staff to see how little pupils know / retain. This has been incredibly useful. Having knowledge tests as part of a fortnightly cycle and our summative assessment has been awesome.

What did I want to change?

  • For us and our context, I’ve spent a lot of time focused on reading. The pupils we inherit from primary schools in our area write beautifully and I feel, therefore, we have neglected this and our KS4 writing suffers as a result.  I wanted to give writing more prominence in our KS3 curriculum.
  • Reading lessons are hit and miss. We still have pupils who are distracted readers, in that they will do anything not to read so I’ve questioned the productivity and value of this.
  • When marking the GCSE mocks, I felt there was a real lack of preparedness for the language paper. Whilst we look at speeches and documentaries, I felt that there was a real omission of non-fiction and some of the skills associated with the GCSE papers.

How have I amended?

We have shifted how we organise the curriculum. Now we have three lessons focused on a literary study, one distinct writing lesson and one reading non-fiction lesson.  Here are the curriculum maps:





Literary studies:

All units have a ‘big question’ which increases in complexity, according to Blooms (which I know is contentious) across the years.

The year 7 Big questions begin with Explain

The year 8 Big questions begin with Explore

The year 9 Big questions are evaluative.

Writing lesson:

Across key stage three, the writing lessons address all of the main forms of writing and the main purposes for writing. We love Chris Curtis’ 200 word challenge but want to ensure a solid foundation in terms of knowledge first. Seeking advice from primary, the lessons follow a set structure:

  • They begin by analysing examples of the form to identify the key features
  • Then we work on developing content
  • Before looking at specific linguistic and structural techniques to build into our writing.

Pupils then have two lessons to construct their written piece. My aim is that writing will be peer-assessed with a checklist and pupil-friendly marking criteria.

Reading non-fiction lesson

The non-fiction topics will tag into the literary study. So, for example, year 9 are studying Romeo and Juliet next term and ‘family’ is our key focus in the non-fiction lessons. Again, I’ve decided to stagger the approach so beside skills in decoding and comprehension

Year 7 will focus on analysing language and structure

Year 8 in term 1 (big term) will revise analysing language and structure before introducing the skill of comparison.

Year 9 in term 1 (big term) will revise analysing language and structure; in term 2 will revise comparison and in term 3 will be introduced to the skills of evaluation.

All non-fiction lessons will start with a drilling test.


In terms of knowledge, we recap prior learning every lesson through 5-7 quick questions and will continue with a knowledge / drill test at the start of the non-fiction lessons.  Our summative assessments will continue to have a separate knowledge section.

Each unit has a Medium Term Plan and a pupil assessment sheet:


Pupil assessment sheet

And, of course, we are a booklet department.  For an example of some of our booklets, check out the KS3 resources and KS4 resources section of this blog.


Reading has shifted to tutor time. I am fortunate that my school has supported tutor time reading and fronted up £3,000 to supply every year group with book boxes. A tutor group reads the same book with the tutor taking on the role of performer before everyone reads a section. Initially, we did this for one tutor time slot a week but we are moving to doing this every single tutor time for 15 minutes.

During the non-fiction reading lesson, pupils who have a reading age of below 10 work with our librarian in a guided reading session.

In addition, we have just set up peer reading. Two tutor times a week, our year 8 pupils listen to our year 7 pupils read. Again, these have been identified from their reading ages.


Interleaving and approach to recall

Over the past year, I’ve been conscious that we haven’t interleaved our texts as much as we should and that our pupils’ retention is poor so, this term, I’ve spent some time addressing both with my year 10 GCSE class.

Last term we taught ‘A Christmas Carol’ and this term we have moved on to Blood Brothers.

To ensure pupils do not forget what they have learnt from A Christmas Carol, I have embedded a simple three lesson structure (we have our literature pupils three times a week).

Lesson 1 – Do it now 1

Pupils are given a series of questions testing their recall of a particular stave. These are then gone through in class and green-penned (ticked, corrected or added to).

Recap questioning

Lesson 2 – Do it now 2

Pupils are given the start of a series of quotations from that stave and they have to recall the second half of the quotation. These are then gone through, green-penned and marks logged.

Quotation recall

Lesson 3 – Do it now 3

To aid pupils’ recall of wider themes and characters across the text in preparation for part b, pupils are given a planning grid (originating from LauraHW). We then go through and green pen.

Planning grid

To further support pupils

  1. Quizlet to aid quotation recall. The same quotation starts are put on quizlet with pupils self-quizzing and completing the variety of tasks to aid recall. Once a month (every three weeks), a longer quotation test is given. I remove quotations in this test that I know pupils are confident with and focus on the ones they are struggling to recall.
  2. I am lucky to be a Pixl school so whilst we study Blood Brothers in class, pupils’ homework is solely focused on revising A Christmas Carol using the Pixl Independence booklet. These Independence booklets are brilliant

Legacy by James Kerr

I am a leader. I am a leader finding my way from the murky depths of leading an English department to the even murkier depths of leading on TL across the academy I work out.

It’s hard. It’s difficult and, for me, it is often plagued with uncertainty. I have days when I feel I am cracking it and days when I wonder what the hell I am doing.

For this reason, I love a good leadership book to root me back into what it means to be a leader.

Legacy by James Kerr is a superb read on leadership. Sharing 15 key lessons for leadership, the book offers strategy to ensure your team becomes a high-performing team.

Below are my key take-aways.  I am hoping to be able to blog on how I have used this book in future to shape my leadership development.

Chapter 1 – Character

What does the book say?

  • True success starts with humility – knowing oneself and recognising that character triumphs over talent because whilst winning takes talent, to repeat it takes character.
  • The importance of getting the basics right and ensuring that you are creating the highest operating standards. The culture needs to be right.
  • The importance of team and collective character. And all members of the team constantly asking how can we do this better and have a vested input into this ongoing discussion.
  • The importance of vision. Action without vision is a nightmare. Vision without action is a dream. Vision into every day action. Principle into practice.

Chapter 2 – Adapt

  • A winning environment is one of personal and professional development.
  • Clear strategy for change – an environment that would stimulate the players and make them want to take part in it.
  • Recognise there will be learning dips in performance.
  • Decision cycle = observe, orient, decide act and then repeat.
  • Identify 10 things you need to achieve in 100 days. Three actions for each. Review every Friday.

Chapter 3 – Purpose

  • People want to be part of something worth fighting for, something they can be proud of.
  • The way we feel about something is more important than what we think about it.
  • Emotional reward is more important than material gain.
  • Personal meaning is how we connect.

Chapter 4 – Responsibility

  • A team of leaders is ahead of the game
  • Flexible leadership groups – distributed leadership.
  • Ownership – building trust and a common understanding.
  • The learning environment should be dedicated to improving the individual.

Chapter 5 – Learn

  • Success is modest improvement consistently done. A long-term commitment to improving excellence
  • Constant improvement – always asking how we can do things better.
  • Without the right structure in place, strategy won’t be successful. Structure follows strategy
  • Each team member should identify their 7/8 pillars of improvement and ensure everything they do feeds into a daily map of self-improvement.
  • Success is how a team work together under pressure, how they understand importance of team work and how they are willing to do 100 things 1% better.
  • The environment needs to be dedicated to learning. How do leaders create opportunities for personal growth and professional development?
  • Excellence is a process of evolution.

Chapter 6 – Whanau

  • Fly in formation. Be of one mind. On a good team, there are no superstars.
  • Turn standards into action with peer to peer enforcement. High standards must come from within.
  • Leadership works best when it comes from the team.
  • The greater connections between a team, the stronger the team.
  • Find a structure that would empower everyone on the team and allow the players to grow as individuals.

Chapter 7 – Expectations

  • Those who prepare properly normally win.
  • Successful leaders have high internal benchmarks. They set their expectations high and exceed them.
  • It’s the repetition of affirmation that leads to belief. Self-fulfilling prophecies.
  • Words shape our story, our story becomes a framework for our behaviours, our behaviours determine the way we lead our life and the way we run our organisations.

Chapter 8 – Preparation

  • The way the sapling is shaped determines how the tree grows.
  • Practise with intensity to develop the mindset to win.
  • If you’re not growing anywhere, you are not going anywhere.
  • Effective training is intense, regular and repetitious. For world class results, it should be central to culture.
  • Avoid red head. Aim for blue head: alternatives, consequences and task behaviours.
  • Develop clarity with a more accurate automatic execution and situational awareness.

Chapter 9 – Pressure

  • Pressure is expectation, scrutiny and consequence.
  • Bad decisions are made as a result of inability to handle pressure at the pivotal moment.
  • Where we direct our mind is where thoughts will take us. Thoughts create an emotion and emotion defines behaviour. Behaviour defines our performance.
  • Avoid bad experience pictures from the past or fear of future consequences.
  • Brain is three parts – instinct, thinking and emotion. Disconnect emotion to remain focused on outcome. When this happens find an external force and get yourself back into the present.
  • Mantra – three word act and takes one from chaos through clarity into action.
  • Meet pressure with pressure. By controlling our attention, we control our performance and by controlling our performance, we control the game.

Chapter 10 – Authenticity

  • Follow your own path. Be resilient, stand tall, keep faith and stand strong within yourself. Be genuine, real and true to who you are. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
  • Leaders who fail suffer from a lack of strong identity, belief in themselves and respect for themselves.
  • When leaders disrespect with others, it starts with themselves.
  • Bad faith occurs when peer pressures and social forces combine to have us disown our own values.
  • Leaders need to role model behaviours around admission of mistakes and weaknesses and fear.
  • Essential for safe conflict and safe confrontation.
  • Integrity – thoughts, deeds and words are as one.
  • Authenticity is alignment of head, mouth, heart and feet thinking, saying and doing the same thing consistently. Honesty – integrity – authenticity – resilience – performance.
  • Every morning write a list of things that need to be done that day. Do them.
  • With an authentic voice, we have authority

Chapter 11 – Sacrifice

  • It’s the work we do behind close doors that makes the difference
  • These are the things I need to work on. These are my weaknesses.
  • Never surrender. Spill blood for the team. Sacrifice.

Chapter 12 – Language


  • Let your ears listen
  • No one is bigger than the team
  • Leave the jersey in a better place
  • Live for the jersey. Die for the jersey.
  • It’s not enough to be good. It’s about being great.
  • In the belly – not the back.
  • It’s an honour, not a job.
  • Leaders are storytellers.
  • If you are going to die for something, you need to know what you are dying for.
  • Companies that maintain their core values are those that stand alone, stand apart and stand for something.
  • First we shape our values then our values shape us.

Chapter 13 – Ritual

  • Ritualised to actualise.
  • Identity and purpose need to be continually renewed and reinterpreted to give them meaning.
  • Inspiring leaders use rituals to lead their team to its core narrative and uses them to reflect, remind, reinforce and reignite collective identity and purpose.

Chapter 14 – Whakapapa

  • Plant trees you’ll never see. Be a good ancestor.
  • What is important is that when the sun is on us, we inherit our tribes, values, stories, mythology and standards. Live to that standard and then pass it on to the next person in the team.
  • True leaders are stewards of the future.
  • Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are whilst your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Chapter 15 – Legacy

  • Write your legacy. This is your time.