Making numeracy across the curriculum magical

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With the volatility of this year’s GCSE mathematics results prominent in the news, the spotlight on numeracy will be shone brightly on many schools this coming academic term. The pressure will be on for colleagues in maths departments up and down the country who are determined to improve students’ understanding and application of the subject. Teaching maths in a secondary setting, I have always felt like the poor relation of my colleagues in the English department, who are given equal, if not more stature within the school. As for the English lessons themselves, they are naturally exciting and diverse. They allow students much more freedom and creativity in their learning, whereas dedicated mathematicians have to work frantically to inspire enthusiasm from our young scholars. We spend hours trying to make interesting resources for Pythagoras’ Theorem that will engage our students whilst imparting the necessary knowledge into their busy, young brains. And we do this in the meagre hope that they will be able to recall and apply said information in formal examinations and, more importantly, in their life after school. We are even guilty of harbouring a crazy notion that some students may actually enjoy our subject. Sadly, we hear all too often the vast numbers of students saying that maths is the worst subject on their timetable. So we as passionate teachers of this amazing natural art, have some difficult times ahead in our efforts to change their attitudes. And, how do those of you who have been tasked with what can be the poisoned chalice of numeracy across the curriculum go about addressing this fixed mindset on a global scale as well as improving the standard of mathematics throughout the school? Well, if I were to take up the mantle again, here are a few things I wish I’d have known:

1. Changing minds is as important as teaching the maths – your biggest challenge will be getting the buy-in. Children will treat maths like Marmite, they will love it or hate it. Their reasons for this will be one of three things; their own ability, the teaching they have experienced or the messages that they have heard from the people they listen to most. Your job is to give students confidence, create a culture of inspiring maths teaching (not just within the maths department) and to counteract any negative publicity that they may have experienced with lots of positive ideas and initiatives!
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2. Accept that this is your crusade and only steely determination will give it momentum – teachers are among the most enthusiastic and supportive groups of people I have ever come across, but they are also the busiest. People will be happy to help, however it is you who will be the driving force by enabling them to do so. Little and often is the best diet to give colleagues. Also, make sure that you have regular conversations with an advocate from SLT; it’s much easier to move things forward if you keep them on side.

3. Start with staff – if you are going to encourage numeracy across the curriculum then you have to support staff with their own mathematics. Breakfast sessions on percentages etc. with coffee and croissants as an incentive are a great way to up-skill colleagues and encourage them to share ideas. Some teachers may not feel comfortable sharing their mathematical inadequacies with the group. Working with those staff on a one-to-one basis can pay bigger dividends in the long run. The conversations that you will have will give you a tremendous insight into their departments and help you to support the numeracy in their subjects; the dialogues will encourage empathy for one another and give you fantastic opportunities to build relationships. This is also something that your colleagues in the maths department can help you with. A clever way to make inroads into other subjects at this time of year is to offer to help with data analysis, you won’t find any non-mathematician declining assistance in such matters!

4. Produce ready-made resources to get departments started – once you’ve talked to teachers and found out the needs of their department, try to give them resources to make the job of delivering numeracy in context easier. A simple idea is to create a folder on the network with questions relevant to their subject. Exam banks are an invaluable tool for this since they have tonnes of in-context questions (particularly for science and technology). Once you’ve started the ball tolling with enthusiastic staff, there will be no stopping them. Encourage these trail-blazers to share ideas with other colleagues, this will give you more time to support the less confident departments. A handbook can be a really good resource but make sure it is useful. Explanations of correct approaches to common calculations can ensure consistency of teaching. Refer back to it regularly at every available opportunity to make sure that it’s not another document gathering dust in the back of stock cupboards across the school. You can reinforce the methods by offering to teach the mathematical aspect of a lesson, that way you can model the teaching whilst minimalising any confusion that students get when learning skills from non-specialists.

5. Work with other schools – in a culture where time is precious, collaboration is the single most difficult thing to do. If you are a secondary teacher then work with your feeder schools; primary colleagues, go and see what’s happening with your students once they start at the local high school. We’ve got a great deal to learn from each other so approach lessons with an open mind. The biggest hurdles for co-ordinators are finding the time to implement ideas and fitting in with the plethora of agendas that schools have to continually contend with. Looking at teaching in early years rather than focusing on year 6 can be an enlightening process and will subject the teacher being observed to less pressure than if you were going to watch an exam class. SLT support here is vital, they are the ones who have the strongest links with other schools and are the people who can free up your time to enable collaboration to take place. Think about the timing of your visits. Cover is at its minimum in late September/early October (and everyone is in better spirits) so you are much more likely to get a positive response to a request in the autumn term than in summer gain time when everyone is preparing for the next academic year and primary schools are busy with enrichment activities. You’re less likely to see formal maths lessons happening in June and July, although there will be some excellent contextual learning taking place at this time.

6. Use form time and assemblies to your advantage – have you ever known a form tutor or head of year decline an offer to kick start their students’ day? Getting into assemblies is a great way to market numeracy across the curriculum as well as raise your own profile within school. Proceed with caution though, only deliver an assembly if you feel confident to do so. If you’re not totally at ease with “numeracy jazz-hands” then enlist the help of more gregarious colleagues to sell the importance of mathematics on a grand scale. An infrequent numeracy newsletter can provide welcome relief for form tutors. Don’t enslave yourself by promising a weekly missal as you just won’t manage it. Instead, use your musings to reinvigorate enthusiasm when you sense interest is waning.
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7. Publicity is everything – use every opportunity to advertise numeracy. Acquire as many display boards as you can. Bold and bright headlines on the school’s website can quickly draw attention as to what’s happening in the mathematical ether. This is where if you’re not creative or technical then you’ll need to be persuasive and have a cupboard filled with chocolate. In my experience, TAs are the most creative people on the staff and are always willing to help; enlisting them to be your Laurence Llewelyn Bowen around school will ensure that displays are vibrant, eye-catching and up-to-date. It is important that you do work collaboratively with your helpers and don’t leave them to their own devices. In doing so you will ensure that people feel valued and that any advertising clearly conveys the message you want to share in a professional and polished manner. Convince teachers who are popular with students and staff (if you’re not one of them) to spread the importance of being numerate, this may go some way in addressing the negative publicity our beloved subject often gets. Encourage those staff who don’t have anything good to say about mathematics to say nothing rather than reinforce negative attitudes.

8. Support parents and carers – a lack of mathematical confidence in a child’s home environment can result in a lack of support/encouragement of the effort they put into the subject at home. Offering information, help and guidance to parents and carers will enable them to take an interest in their child’s learning as well as building relationships and counteracting any bad educational experiences that they themselves may have had. Information evenings, offering adult numeracy classes and sharing guidance on how to teach certain skills are all easy ways to continue the mathematical conversation long after the students have left the building.

9. Take numeracy beyond maths lessons – every teacher gets frustrated that students can’t apply transferable skills across subjects and contexts, yet we never really address this issue effectively. Most students will not go on to devote their life to mathematics so it’s our job to show them the purpose in what we are teaching. We must enable children to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply this in situations where it will be useful to them. The best way to do this is contextual learning: showing them how they transfer what they’ve practised from a text book in real-life settings. How often do maths departments organise a trip? And yet there are lots of opportunities for the application of mathematics out there. Try to integrate the type of maths students would be expected to do as a plumber, doctor or artist into teaching about ratios rather than just doing more of the same. Get the maths department to use resources that students might see in other subjects to encourage their use of numeracy skills across disciplines.

10. Make maths fun – this can be hard at times because students (and some staff) see it as something that they have got to do and so must endure. This attitude will almost certainly switch off everyone involved and is not one to be encouraged. There are lots of competitions, organisations and software/apps that children of all ages and abilities can get involved in, they just need someone to lead the way and give them opportunities to do so. Maths/puzzle clubs can give some of the most vulnerable students a safe place to go whilst supporting their numeracy skills so are a great way of delivering intervention. Again, enlist the help of teachers, TAs and other students to make the magic happen. For all your hard work banging the numeracy drum around school, nothing can compete with the experience that students have in their maths lessons so it is imperative that you develop a collective ethos within the team itself and work closely with the head of department (if it’s not you). Half the battle is getting children hooked and this happens in the classroom. If you can create a vibrant and exciting environment where every child feels that with some effort along the way, they can achieve in the subject then everyone is a winner.

Again, this is another I wish I’d have known that blog. Please be assured that I am not professing to have the secret to numeracy across the curriculum, in fact quite the opposite. The purpose of this article is merely to prevent those of you carrying the torch from making some of the mistakes that I did. I have produced some resources along the way that may act as useful starting points. I’m happy to share these so please feel free to get in touch. There are lots of great ideas out there so don’t be afraid to use the internet to network and collaborate with others in a similar position. If you’re lucky enough to be in a school where numeracy is already well-established, don’t reinvent the wheel. As Chris Evans says, “Agree and add to.” If you can, learn from the people who have implemented the existing practice and ask for their advice; this will save time and prevent you treading on too many toes/egos. Time is key, you’ll never have enough of it, and it will be a while before you see the fruits of your labour but this is when personal motivation is paramount. Good luck on this exciting new venture in your teaching career and keep going even when you have those difficult days when you feel disheartened, because the work you are doing now will have an impact on the students long after you’re there to see it.
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30 snippets of advice I’d give my NQT self

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It is great to see that Twitter is awash with ideas from enthusiastic, passionate and talented, recently qualified, teachers. For established educators such as myself, the excitement and fresh perspective that our inexperienced colleagues bring to a school is heartening. Most trainees/NQTs/RQTs are buoyant, willing to get involved and have yet to be corrupted by the cynicism that can sometimes creep in after a few years at the chalkface! How can we harness their energy and encourage it’s longevity whilst smoothing off some of the rough edges of our newest recruits to this noblest of professions? Today I started to consider what advice I would give to my 22 year old self if I had the chance to perform a Back to the Future style intervention in order to prepare me for years of service ahead. Here are my top thirty suggestions of advice to follow:

1. Pace yourself – the best analogy is that of teaching being a marathon not a sprint. If you have found your vocation, you could still be educating children in another forty years so it’s important to keep energy levels up;

2. Build relationships – teaching is person-centred, building good working relationships with students, parents and staff is vital. Sharing good news at every opportunity will make the job of having difficult conversations much easier. Positive relationships make teaching a shared experience and will make your day much more rewarding;

3. Be passionate about what you teach – sparking an interest is half the battle with students. If you’re excited about what you are teaching, then you’ll ignite their curiosity. Use the Sawyer effect to make work fun;

4. Remember that everyone thinks and learns in different ways and at different paces – just as every face you see is unique, as is every brain. You will be passionate about your subject because you have a genuine enthusiasm or natural flair for it but don’t assume every student will think/feel like you do. You can be certain that they definitely won’t acquire knowledge in the way or at the pace you feel they should. Think about what it’s like in your classroom for those students who struggle to enjoy or master your subject – try to put yourself in their shoes. A good way of developing empathy is to consider having to write with the opposite hand that you’re used to using. This can be what it’s like every lesson for some students that you teach;

5. Lose the need to be a perfectionist – you will never achieve perfection in teaching because there are too many extrinsic factors that influence the outcomes. Learn to embrace imperfection: it can be quite beautiful;

6. Have a finish time and stick to it – there will always be another book to mark, lesson to plan or resource to create. In order to survive in teaching, you need to know when to call it a day. The teachers who tend to burn out are those that can’t stop working. Give yourself a set time period to do your work and what’s not done at the end of it gets left for another day;

7. Have a life outside of school – your health and wellbeing as well as that of your significant others is number one priority. Remember we work to live not live to work;

8. Ignore the “don’t smile until Christmas” rule – first impressions count, if you don’t smile until Christmas the students (and staff) will think you’re miserable;

9. Be clear about your expectations – people are generally compliant souls as long as they know what’s expected from them. Always set high, yet reasonable standards for classroom behaviour and work ethics. Students need and respect boundaries;

10. Avoid TMI – it is good to show your human side but don’t go into detail about your life; remember that you’re not in The Truman Show! Having an element of professional aloofness means that you can maintain the necessary distance to focus on learning. Resist the urge for narcissism even though some students may put you on a pedestal;

11. Continue to learn about your subject – over the course of your career you will endure countless CPD sessions on the likes of differentiation, questioning, AfL and many other invaluable tools in a teacher’s toolkit. However, one aspect of your professional development that can get neglected is subject knowledge. Promise to teach yourself at least one new aspect of your subject each term (or practise something that you haven’t taught in a while);

12. Stay humble – remember that no one likes a know-it-all! Even if you are a “natural”, you will learn a new lesson every day of your teaching career. Listen to other teachers (even the bad ones) and share your ideas only when invited to, you’ll gain much more respect and admiration that way;

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13. Develop Happy Habits – a number of years ago, I was fortunate enough to hear professor Barry Hymer speak. Being a huge advocate of Dweck’s Growth Mindset approach, he talked about developing happy habits in students. I felt that this could also be adopted by teachers to make their working life more manageable. The concept of a happy habit is a mindful, focused routine that will make the overall workload more effective. Regular feedback to students (specific, short and often), using PPA time effectively and keeping progress data up-to-date are all habits that will contribute to an accomplished and happy classroom practitioner who has a life outside school. Generally, those colleagues who complain about taking a whole weekend (with the exception of heavily essay based subjects) to mark a set of books have not looked at that class set for about four weeks. Any feedback they give to students after such a time lapse is no use to anyone! Short, regular, uninterrupted (put your handheld devices aside) intervals of work will save tonnes of time in the long run;

14. Use social media wisely – many senior leaders think that Facebook is evil, I don’t share this view. However, teaching is a profession and if we want to be taken seriously then we should bear in mind that we shouldn’t post anything that can cast aspersions on our character or that of our colleagues. Teachers should also be aware that they may be Googled at any time by any number of interested parties (students, parents, current/prospective employers etc.) so should keep privacy settings high and only allow friends to post pictures that they’d be happy for their grandma to see;

15. Enjoy what you do – you are at work for a large part of your day so it’s important to have fun, if it stops being fun don’t do it! Attitudes are infectious, be a radiator not a drain;

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16. Know your exam specification but don’t teach solely to it – what would you want an expert mathematician, historian, scientist, etc. to look like? What skills do students need in order to become experts in your subject? What else would you want to instill in them along the way? Plan learning with these thoughts as your priority not the final exam questions. Again, the marathon analogy comes in handy; if you lay solid foundations with mastery learning in mind, then introducing exam technique when appropriate should not pose a problem to students;

17. We are all teachers of literacy – as a mathematician, I am pained to say this, being literate is key to unlocking opportunity in every other aspect of life and learning. It is the responsibility of every teacher to model high expectations of reading, writing, comprehension and rhetoric, in addition to enabling every student to reach those standards. Developing literacy is not something that should be left to the English department as everyone reaps the benefits when students acquire strong communication skills. Teachers should focus on improving their own oration, elocution and SPAG; we can’t expect students to concentrate on literacy if we are not modelling the desired standards;

18. Keep your head down and observe the behaviour of other staff – you have chosen a vocation that will have an impact on your personal life. Always act like grandma is watching especially when you are within a three mile radius of your school. Around school, especially in public places and the staff room, it is useful to use the old adage if you haven’t got anything good to say then don’t speak. You can guarantee that everything you do say will be heard. Observe how others behave and learn from their mistakes, don’t copy their bad habits. Look out for the radiators: surround yourself with positive people and avoid the drains, don’t get sucked into negative mindsets;

19. Form balanced, thoughtful opinions but don’t be opinionated – this sits closely with number 18: everyone is entitled to an opinion but how we voice them can either canonise or damn us. It is better to say nothing than speak out in haste. You never know what opportunities for promotion are just around the corner. If you’ve been too vocal in your criticism of people or procedures in a school, they just may come back to bite you;

20. Put your name down for everything – in teaching there are lots of opportunities to get involved in leading/supporting activities outside the classroom, volunteer to help as much as you can (without stretching yourself too thin). Organising a trip or running a school team are excellent character building experiences. Extra-curricular activities are the best way to build relationships with students, they are also what memories are made of. Without enthusiastic, motivated teachers the wider aspects of school life wouldn’t be half as much fun so try your best to support the community in every way that you can;

21. Good behaviour management is not about shouting and punishments – when I first started teaching I had the Year 8 class from hell. As a result of this, I shouted regularly, handed out lots of detentions and countless whole-class punishments (big mistake). I used to hate teaching that class and they used to dread my lessons. My head of department at the time (the kindest man I have been fortunate enough to know) told me that I had to learn to love those students even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. Because I had the utmost respect for him, I did as he asked and put time into every individual student in that class. What I quickly learned was that they weren’t all naughty children, it was just a few of them who were difficult (whose tough backgrounds gave them reason to be). I found that the more care I showed the class, the better they behaved, it was that simple. I made sure the toughest were treated with the most kindness (because that was what had been missing in their lives); this didn’t mean compromising my expectations; it just meant enabling them to achieve those expectations. I spent my time trying to catch ’em being good (when they adopted the behaviours I wanted them to), rather than catching them being bad. It was a lot of hard work but we got there in the end and I have a lot to thank the original 8S2 for, they taught me more about life than I taught them about maths;

22. Always look for the good in others – everyone has something that they can bring to the discussion. The happiest places are those that shine a light on an individual’s qualities rather than highlighting negative aspects of a person’s character. As a member of a school, you are in the unique position to find beauty in people of all ages. Look for it in every moment and encourage everyone else to do the same, it develops a much more cohesive and co-operative culture;

23. Assume all students can be G&T in your subject and it’s your job to get them there – pre-judging what a child is capable of is the worst kind of prejudice a teacher can have, it is our duty to be an advocate for the students in our care and instill confidence in them to succeed. Adopting a Growth Mindset and nurturing it within your classroom has endless possibilities, this includes expecting the best outcomes from even the weakest students. The challenge is how to get them as far towards those outcomes as you possibly can in the time that you have with them. The best teachers will develop characteristics of resilience, commitment and determination in their students so that those students will continue to strive for the best that they can be long after the lesson has finished;

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24. Don’t take yourself too seriously – teaching is a great leveller. Children and teenagers have a refreshing honesty that should be encouraged and refined. If you’re having a bad hair day, they’ll be the ones to tell you; if you’re in a fowl mood, they’ll acknowledge it; and, if you say something to embarrass yourself, then they’ll remind you of it regularly. If you’re able to laugh with them, they’ll be much more willing to be on the receiving end of your humour when it’s their turn. Laughter is one of the best tools in your armoury, use it or lose it;

25. It’s ok to make mistakes, acknowledge the error and learn from it – you will get things wrong and that’s ok. There is no harm in admitting that you have made an error, in fact it’s good for staff and students to see that you can learn from mistakes. Be careful that you don’t confuse humility with gaps in your subject knowledge. Students and staff need to have confidence in your ability as an educator, if they begin to question this, your job can suddenly become a great deal more difficult. Avoid saying that you’re not good at other subjects, it’s a very fine line between showing empathy and discrediting your fellow colleagues’ passions, so try to steer clear. One of my biggest frustrations as a mathematician, is when other colleagues freely admit that they can’t do maths and think that it is acceptable to do so. I’m not sure that they’d be as quick to tell the world if they were illiterate, would they? Remember that children learn from their observations, encourage them to take risks by being a risk-taker yourself;

26. Give learning purpose – why do we as adults do anything at all? Generally, it is because there is some motivation for doing it. This is what we have got to do with any knowledge that we teach, give students a reason for learning. We can find lots of ways to motivate young people, passion for our subject can be a weighty factor. Giving the topic real-life context can help students see the value of their learning beyond the classroom as well as an exciting learning environment. A well-organised classroom with purposeful displays can provide the daily stimulation for learning that students need to focus their efforts;

27. Be mindful of what you say to students – every word that you say will be taken in and interpreted in ways that you have never conceived, so it is vital that you don’t say anything which may upset learners or cause them to lose confidence in either their ability or themselves. Feedback should always be objective and not personal;

28. Don’t be afraid to let your personality out in the classroom – variety is the spice of life and the best way to engage students in education is to give them a varied diet of teaching styles. In showing them your own unique personality, you are cultivating their individuality and teaching them how to contribute to a community whilst still being themselves. Don’t try to copy other teachers’ personas, find what characteristics work for you and make them your own;

29. Reflect regularly and maintain perspective – learn from every lesson and take something positive from every day, even the bad ones. Use perspective to keep you constant. Ask: Will this matter in an hour? A day? A week? A year? Celebrate the successes and accept that you can’t save everyone, but never stop trying;

30. Count your blessings – you work with the best people in the world, no two days will ever be the same and you have thirteen weeks off a year. When you’ve had a bad day, remember that you’re never more than 8 weeks away from your next holiday so keep smiling, you are blessed!

That’s what I’d say to my NQT-self if I had the chance to be a Marty McFly and go back in time. For those of you who are new to the profession, I hope that my suggestions are useful. To those established practitioners reading this, I wonder how similar our lists would be? Have I missed anything? What mistakes have you learned from? If you could go back and do it all again, what would you do differently? Go on, share with the group, Marty and Doc would love to know!

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The importance of beautiful rhetoric beyond exam results

As we wake on the morning of A level results day, a melting pot of emotions for students, parents and teachers alike, I thought I would swim against the stream and blog about something completely irrelevant to those of you who have anxiously lost sleep over key stage five grades. Apologies if you were looking for solace in my post, however, I do hope it will come as some light relief to a day of monotonous headlines. I have decided that my blog today will be about food; that’s correct, food, not a scrap to do with results. More specifically, how the art of oratory made a meal into an unforgettable experience! Before you think that you’ve happened upon Nigella’s blog by mistake and decide to click on the next cat meme going on in the background of your Facebook page in the other window, don’t give up heart, read on.

On Tuesday, I was extremely fortunate enough to visit Simon Rogan’s brainchild, l’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria. The reputation of the food in this establishment is one of mythical proportions and is not gained lightly. L’Enclume boasts some of the best and most skilled chefs in the country; the produce they use is local and fresh; the menus are creative and unique, and, as a result of this, no two dining adventures are the same. Every mouthful from start to finish was a truly overwhelming experience (the final “surprise” birthday course actually brought me to tears) but the food is not the reason why I write today. 
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What was most impressive about the whole culinary journey that we undertook with the team, was the ability of the staff to work synergically with each other and the guests to create something beyond that of fine dining and the fact that all of the front of house ambassadors were accomplished orators, despite an average age among them of about 25 years old. My dining partner and I observed how Sam, James and Charlie skilfully used the three musketeers of oratory pathos, logos and ethos to make the patrons feel at ease in the unassuming surroundings as well as to convince the punters that they were going to have the best meal of their lives. Most notable in the rhetoric that these young men used, who exuded good character, was their ability to persuade. I watched them glide from table to table encouraging discerning diners to try dishes that they would not normally have felt confident in venturing to do, to sample wines which were against their uneducated experience and to change the pace in which their food was delivered to suit both the chefs and the patrons themselves. Their passion for the food and drink they were serving; their love of their work and utter dedication to providing the best service possible made the meal an experience, akin to one of a theatrical performance that evoked a spectrum of emotions in the people who were on the receiving end of their efforts. 

At no point did I want to know about the A level results, degree classification or institution in which these accomplished orators had studied. However, what was starkly evident was that the education they had experienced had given them the skills to talk to people.  Their schooling had given them the confidence to develop pathos, logos and ethos with their audience using beautifully persuasive lines such as; “Yes, you are right. goats’ cheese is disgusting, horrible stuff, I too used to detest it myself until this beauty changed my mind. I urge you to challenge yourself not to be converted by it” and “I agree you shouldn’t eat cute animals but do you know how ugly and unkind ginuea fowl is? It bullies all of the other animals. Tasty, but a very nasty bird. You’ll be doing the others a favour trying it!” What had also happened somewhere along the line is that their education had encouraged them to be lifelong learners and to become experts in something they loved, something that GCSE and A level examinations tend to discourage in young people. There is no GCSE in the knowledge of world teas or in the art of wine tasting (and I wouldn’t encourage it at such a young age) but these young adventurers were equipped to learn beyond school; they gave the appearance of good character and showed respect for everyone in the room which had to be rooted from somewhere. Their training at l’enclume will have polished their performances, but the foundations had clearly been laid years before and is that not what we long for in the children we teach? Their emotional intelligence went beyond the scope of any paper qualification and equipped them to quickly gain the trust of the patrons, develop instant rapport  across a wide audience from a variety of backgrounds and their attention to detail, wit and charm made them instantly likeable; which are attributes that are arguably much more useful in life after formal education. On a very personal level, the staff at l’Enclume made my experience unforgettable, their oratory made magnificent food into a spectacular culinary adventure, but on a professional level, their use of rhetoric was a delight and reminded me just how important the life lessons, softer skills and knowledge that we impart onto our students are than the grades that they get along the way.  So today people, I urge you not to get hung up on results whatever your part to play in the whole scary process and look at the long term. Have you experienced/delivered a rounded education that has opened doors or one that has ticked all the boxes but not nurtured the soul? Either way, bread and circuses can offer a welcome distraction from the roller coaster of emotions you may be experiencing, so make sure you set time aside to treat yourself and see that there’s more to life.