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Marginal Gains

September 9th, 2016

The agony of choice.  The Rio Olympics (and Paralympics) offer headmasters so many angles to begin school assemblies with, so yesterday we decided to go for ‘marginal gains’.  It was, however, a tough call.

Team GB’s medal haul and our overtaking of Team China was quite something, of course.  I imagine that this is a theme we will return to later, and not necessarily in terms of how that particular feat was managed, but perhaps in terms of what China’s priorities were over the summer.  More about that in later blogs.

Synergy, secondly, is manifested in the exploits of our rowing crews.  The notion that a team is greater than the sum of its parts has real relevance for this weekend, when our rugby XVs take to the field.  We’re also going to trial rowing this year, in activities time, so who knows how far they can go?

So we briefly mulled over the China angle and the notion of synergy, before ending up with Sir Dave Brailsford and marginal gains:

“If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by one percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

Sir Dave is the brains behind the success of the GB cycling team.  From the quality of pillows and sleep, to diet and how aerodynamic the handlebars are, the broader GB cycling team appear to be masters of analysis.  The winning riders, you might remember, went out of their way to thank their support teams.

The main theme of the first assembly, then, was how we apply this idea of marginal gains to our learning in the classroom and our attitude to it.  I want this to be the year of marginal gains in the classroom.  From the quality of presentation to a willingness to take risks, if we can improve a number of elements as we go, and in a sustained manner, who know what we can achieve?

And then we’ll be celebrating a good number of personal bests.