Best Practice

Why ‘letting go’ is the secret to transforming pupil outcomes

There is so much that teachers try to control but in doing so they risk creating adversarial choices which push at-risk young people further away. Mark Goodwin advocates letting go. It’s scary and uncomfortable, but it can be transformational too

Probably, the last thing anybody working in schools needs to hear right now is a plea to “let go”. At a time of heightened worry about results, behaviour and so-called “gaps”, let alone the real existential worries of sickness and loss of life, it might sound reckless or even foolish to suggest that teaching staff should let go of anything.

In fact, there have been strong messages issued from plenty of educational quarters that what is required for the “Covid Generation” is more control, more instruction, and more discipline – the opposite of “letting go”.

However, one of the most important skills I have developed during my time as a teacher and school leader has been the ability to let go; the ability to detach myself and my emotions from a situation, a detachment that will buy me seconds or minutes to make a better decision.

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