The title of this blog gives a good clue to what is to come but hopefully it gives some useful pointers.

At school, on time, present in class:  people who are successful tend to be the ones who work hardest and practice with purpose.

  • There is which speaks of needing 10,000 hours to master a skill (here is a link to an 8 minute summary of the book ‘Outliers’ on the subject-
  • Other research suggest it can be less if we do what is called deliberate practice – not just working harder or more but focusing your efforts on specific things (again here is a link to a 7 minute summary of deliberate practice –

The clear message is that the more quality time you put in the better the results.  To be successful we need pupils to attend school, to be in class on time and to come to revision sessions and to practice purposefully at home.   It was good to see an improvement in our exam results in August and it was no surprise to see we also had an improvement in our school attendance figures.

Not only do we need pupils to be physically at school we also need them to be ‘present’ when they are in class.  Not hiding away or gazing out the window but actively taking part and engaged in the learning:

  • phones switched off and brains switched on.
  • being well nourished (water and fruit rather than energy drinks and sweets)
  • well rested (sleep the night before and some fresh air at break time)

Working to a goal and doing your best:  When I am speaking to pupils who are misbehaving or ones who are underachieving they largely fall into 2 camps.

  • The first camp are those who know exactly what they are going to do in the future and cannot see a point in school – when I taught at Fraserburgh this would be those who knew they would be going to work on the fishing boats and when I taught at Alford it was the ones who were going to work on a farm.  They were clear that school could not teach them what they needed.  Sadly the jobs on the land and the boats dried up and I have met many who ended up paying to go to college to get the qualifications they could have got years earlier.  But this camp can be stubborn, after all what does a teacher know about life in the real world?  What I know is that when the real world changes having qualifications can help you change your plans
  • The second camp are those with no idea of what they want to do or where their talents lie.  They drift along with patchy attendance and with no focus/purpose whilst at school.  Growing ever older older but not growing very much wiser.  Over the years we have tried many ways to engage with this group and I highly recommend the My World of Work website to families of pupils of all ages as a place to get advice, ideas and inspiration   to find out more here is a link to an introductory 3 minute video of the site

It is impossible to do your best if you do not care about the outcome – successful pupils are the ones who have a clear goal, who do care and who are bothered about turning up and doing well.  Because they have that goal they are determined to do the best they can and produce their best work, on time, first time every time.