Picture: Our Knights of the Road (Deputy Head Mr Jaina & Ed in Year 11) came to the rescue this week.

In the 1980s Nissan arrived in England and brought with them the Japanese concept of Kaizen – improvement by small steps. The idea is that as an organisation you don’t make the most progress by implementing one great change but by everyone in the firm focusing on contributing small improvements regularly. Today, the Nissan plant in Sunderland is amongst the most efficient in Europe and the chaos of British car manufacturing in the 1970s is a distant memory.I have been reminded of this approach as we have worked on our school improvement plan. It is taking longer than first expected because there are so many ideas we have to take the school forward. We have to balance adopting the many ideas which can improve the school in each area of its operations with taking on an achieveable number of challenges.

The same approach is equally applicable to our pupils. I have such strong memories of being at Prep School and thinking how impossible the work in the year above seemed – so much more challenging and complicated. Looking back, I suspect the pupils in the year above may have been overstating their case but I do think children still feel that. They can be overwhelmed if they try to look ahead too far unless they have the reassurance and the confidence to know that they can and will succeed.

In our curriculum policy we really emphasise the growth mindset. There is no such thing as not being able to do something. It is all about what I can do now, what I will stretch for to achieve next and believing that I will always improve. Kaizen – improvement by small steps.

Spending time with a few of our Year 11s who take extra Maths, on Friday, really pushed that message home for me. The calm confidence and sheer meticulousness of their approach to all the practice questions really struck me. I am sure you will be pleased to know they have clearly been taught well. I imagine they themselves would not have expected to be at this level a few years ago, but steady improvements by small steps has got them there.

I am sure there will still be plenty of pre-GCSE nerves to come but I left on Friday afternoon feeling confident in them. They have done the slog, they continue to apply themselves and all that practice will pay off when it comes to the big day.