Finally, my colleagues are vindicated in their anti-NAPLAN comments! This morning’s news featuring the report from Dr Ainley showing:

“There has been no improvement in maths and reading among students in a decade and the results of disadvantaged students have declined sharply, a major report obtained by the ABC reveals.” (link at end of this blog)

I train teachers around the country and many outstanding educators have privately shared their NAPLAN concerns with me.

These concerns include:

  • Having to teach to the test- not the curriculum.
  • Reducing child development to grades and benchmarks and not taking learning styles into consideration
  • Children’s fears and anxiety around these tests.
  • Parents making children work on endless worksheets that purport to give better marks- a whole industry has grown up around this reduction of the education process to grades and numbers!
  • Children are pretested,  post – tested- they are tested so often there is little time to teach!

I regularly give workshops to SE Asian teachers as well, and my Singaporean colleagues have asked me why we have so many national exams.

Singapore has very high standards of education and has been very exam oriented in the past but is gradually injecting more creativity into the curriculum.

We NEVER had to go this way.

Sure- literacy and numeracy standards needed to improve and we needed more rigour in our education process.

This could have happened with a tighter curriculum, more effective professional development and extra teachers and assistants to work with children.

NAPLAN was always a broken, inferior tool to mend an education system that needed serious improvement.

Read more about it here-


Your child won’t amount to much….

AllKids are Smart Front CoverYour child won’t amount to much….

At least 10 times over the last 2 years I have had sad, hurt parents tell me the teacher of their child (primary years) has cast a very negative judgement on their child. Here are a few typical ones:

  • “Will never be academic,” (turned out to be an A student),
  •  “Will not amount to much,” – child picked that up and then pretty much believed it and went on to tell her Mum that the teacher “knows I will never be able to do it!”
  • “Will make a good hairdresser”- yes- that really WAS said! Apologies to all hairdressers as I think you are amazingly gifted!
  • “You need to lower your expectations because he will NEVER go to Uni- just doesn’t have the capacity.”  (That one went on to top his high-school year and will definitely be going to uni!)

How can trained educators do that?

How can we judge human potential so lightly and go on to trample on everyone’s dreams?

Whenever I look at the groups I teach I am always aware that I might have an Einstein, a Richard Branson, Maria Montessori, Marie Curie or a Bill Gates sitting in front of me. They might wriggle around, show little interest and be downright non-compliant at times. So what? Maybe my chosen teaching method that day was boring. Maybe they already knew the material. Maybe they were tired or had a fight with their best friend………

Many very successful adults did very poorly at school and in fact failed!

What does that tell us?


It could be us as educators or our inflexible exam based system that is breaking the spirit of our children and holding up their potential.

I have met many successful people with terrible memories of school. They were made to feel stupid, inept and eventually angry and resentful. Luckily anger has lots of inherent energy and they used it to fuel their future success.

The interesting thing is that behind all these failures who made good was a parent or mentor who really believed in them.

Just one person to believe in them made the difference!

If not for Einstein’s mother the scientific world would be so much poorer.

My take-away message is two-fold:

  1. To teachers- stop judging potential and treat EVERY child as potentially gifted. Look instead at your teaching methods.
  2. To parents- keep believing. Refuse to swallow the negative, bitter pills given to you. Let your child know you believe in them, provide a positive learning environment and let your child’s mind unfold!

So what if they fail the test, exam or forget the facts? There is a lot more to education than those things.

We believe EVERY child is smart and this is why I wrote a book of the same name.

Refuse to believe anything less.

Contact us on 61 8 92714200 to get a copy of the book. If you are in Singapore you can purchase it from

Email me privately on if you have any matters re your children you would like to discuss.












The ABC OF CHILD WHISPERING L is for limiting thoughts and beliefs

New mindset new results motivational phrase sign on old wood with blurred background
New mindset new results motivational phrase sign on old wood with blurred background

Yesterday I was talking to a bunch of young people at our centre- upper primary and secondary.

They were talking about how scary the forthcoming NAPLAN tests are for them. One of the students was very worried about a test she had coming up at school today.

I suddenly realised I was confronting a dense smog of self-limiting beliefs and that it was worth taking some time away from our writing lesson to help the children see what they were doing.

I reminded them that repeating these negative affirmations was just making the likelihood of failure more likely!

We looked at how simply worrying about NAPLAN could ruin the forthcoming holidays and not help one iota. We then examined how taking a positive attitude and using positive affirmations would be likely to lead to higher marks. (Along with some judicious practice and well applied study skills!)

We discussed the pointlessness of obsessively worrying about the questions that MIGHT occur. It is a far better strategy to write down the questions that would be most difficult and then write answers.

Playing WORST QUESTIONS EVER is actually a very positive strategy where children together write the hardest questions they can think of and then collaboratively set out to answer them!

Chances are that they will actually get easier questions and even if they don’t- they will not have spent days or weeks worrying themselves into a negative wormhole!

The limiting thoughts and beliefs we carry from childhood have a massive impact on our adult lives and in turn get visited on our loved ones.


We deal with these negative self-beliefs within all our learning sessions and in particular during our evidence-based EQ4KIDZ course.

Children need to be helped to squash these thoughts and place them under a “microscope” to see how damaging they really are. Then they need to be shown how to use positive affirmations that can be immediately substituted for negative thoughts.

Children and teenagers CAN be empowered to overcome these self-limiting beliefs. It just takes time, sensitive, deep listening and a willingness to demonstrate and scaffold thinking techniques that need to be applied. Our young people are often very stressed and worried at this PRE-NAPLAN time and they need our calm support!



Our education system is broken.
We have lost the plot – seriously!
We treat children like vessels to be filled with knowledge- like Mr Thomas Gradgrind, the school board superintendent, in Charles Dicken’s “Hard Times.”
“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”

There are more and more schools that rip kindergarten children from the sandpits and plop them in front of boring workbooks, taking them away from play-based learning and thrusting them into formal school learning – all in the name of acceleration. Acceleration for what? Acceleration towards boredom and disengagment!

Some schools have the stated aim of getting all the children to be 1 year ahead before they get into year one! Why? What will this tension lead to?

Broken children will be the end results and already our level of anxiety amongst children has grown to worrying levels.
We are enrolling more and more children who are very anxious about NAPLAN, reports, academic performance and not managing to get all their homework done!
Schools are discussing children in terms of marks, stanines and percentages – not needs, personalities and learning styles.
The humanity, fun and excitement has gone from education and will continue to go.
Just over the last 7 days I have met broken children who believe they are failures at 8 years of age! I have met broken teachers who love children but have been instructed that children are no longer at the centre of the educational stage – it is all about exams results and, marks.
Even children are now describing themselves using the marks they get. I have children who have told me they desperately want to achieve a pass or get better than a C but believe this is no longer possible.

I have seen many reports that tell the exact position children come in their class. That is unbelievable and unacceptable in this day and age. It has to be stopped.
We are dishonouring our children and robbing them of motivation, hope and love of education. We CAN improve standards and reform our education system without taking away all the hope, enthusiasm, fun and creativity and breaking the hearts of the next generation!


F grade and a sad smilie, written in red letters in a spiral pad, shallow DOF

Over the last week I have been given at least a dozen reports and copies of test results to read and hardly any of them have made sense!
I have seen crazy results with one parent being told- “Your child only reached stanine 3 in the ________ test.” Unfortunately the parent had no idea of what this test meant, let alone the results.
This over-testing of children and labelling has reached epic proportions. The race is on to somehow put every child in a box with a negative label.
Children are not allowed to learn differently.
They must all be the same.
Why not put Ritalin in the drinking water or simply give every child a lobotomy at 2 years if they show signs of curiosity and interest in the world around them!
I have read reports that label realy bright children as C – (satisfactory) and then go on to give the place in class. These stupid strategies were last seen when I was at Primary school and that was rather a long time ago!
Our kids are puzzled, depressed and starting to give up. Many children have told me they KNOW they can never reach a higher score than C.
The education system is choking for lack of positive air. We are shaking the lifeblood from our students and killing their enthusiasm. This is not the accountability that was much needed. Children’s ability, attainment and progress cannot be simply measured by scores. It is far more complex than this. We are treating our children like machines.
It is stupidity of the highest order and is actually harming children.
Who would dig up a healthy plant to keep checking it is growing?
Yet- this is what we do but this crazy over-testing of children is achieving the same results- the love of learning will die!








We are once again losing the plot!

Schools are using NAPLAN as their excuse for turning themselves into efficient factories with kids having knowledge rammed into them reminiscent of Dickens’ HARD TIMES scenarios!

Of course we have to improve young minds, help children retain knowledge, remember facts and spell, read, write and do basic maths. Nobody would argue with that.

But…we also have to inspire, light the fires of curiosity, lead, excite a love of learning, teach how to know oneself and how to be with others. We are called to be EDUCATORS and truly educating a child is a complex task calling for highly trained, sensitive and empathic human beings to lead, motivate and awaken hearts and minds.

This young extremely intelligent 9 year old had some literacy issues and LOVED the school holidays because she could dream, imagine, make things (she was a gifted little artist), and just be herself. As soon as school started her imagination had to shut down.

She came in crying one afternoon and thrust these words into my hands. I could hardly speak. I asked her if she would mind if I shared her words with teachers and her reply? “I WANT YOU TO!” So here I am sharing this child’s honest comments.

Let me translate:
All my imagination has to be locked up. I feel sad about this. Because school has started again. I have no time to imagine any more.

Surely we should be doing the opposite? Surely we should be awakening their imaginations by reading them great literature, providing enriching experience in the arts, music and movement and promoting divergent thinking skills?

Is this the bleak future we are offering? In that case we can expect more children to tune out, lose interest, become sad, depressed and lose the ability to dream up the future. We need to wake up from this nightmare and give our children back their hopes, dreams and futures.


I have just had 5 days off in Canberra- to dream, wander in galleries, eat, spend quality time with my daughter and SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP!

5 days in another place- with emails, twitter, face-book, voice messages off and it was so good!

The thing is- sometimes you lose your perspective and start looking at the wrong things too closely. I needed the top of the mountain again and it is back. I can see clearly again and look in 360 degrees around and see what is REALLY happening.

I wonder how often that happens in education? At the moment many of my colleagues are busy preparing for NAPLAN and the kids are all down there in the details and missing “big picture learning”. They are missing the connections between the “bits” of skills they are learning and therefore their understanding of what they are learning is suspended in the education-sphere with no anchoring strings and connectors to the real world.

We are in serious danger of having an education system that has totally lost its way- missed the view from the summit -missed the big picture. The lack of forward planning, goals, guiding philosophical principles is unfortunately delivering results well beneath par.

This lack of direction and narrow vision has filtered down to children and we now see increasingly large numbers of children who experience education as joyless, meaningless and have little or no motivation to learn.

My teachers at ICE are needing to spend increasingly large amounts of time on motivation and re-kindling dreams and helping awaken children to their amazing, innate possibilities.

We need some leaders (preferably drawn from the teaching community), who can re-inspire, reinvigorate and reinvent our education system so ALL kids feel they can learn, ALL kids experience the joy of success and ALL kids have their curiosity and learning hearts reignited!


31211692[1]There are emerging concerns about children’s stress levels during NAPLAN testing and of course this bothers educators and makes us wonder if we really need this type of imposed testing. Any system that uses testing as a major aid to check on levels of attainment is putting out a clear message- we don’t trust our teachers! Is the information generated from NAPLAN really that helpful of would continuous observation and testing at regular intervals provide more helpful data?
If the Government really does not trust teachers to be able to help children reach their potential we need to address this- why this lack of trust?? I cannot imagine this sort of checking and lack of trust existing in other professions.
Personally I feel that the teaching profession has never fully grown up, asserted themselves and taken the lead by refusing to have their daily work habits dictated to by people with less knowledge.
Stress for children is not good but most will recover. The REAL concern factor here is teacher stress and this is being largely ignored. Teachers are deliberately staying quiet and not commenting in the media for fear of their jobs. We conduct a great deal of professional development around Australia with thousands of teachers and I can assure readers they ARE experiencing severe stress. Their time is taken up with administering and marking many practice tests – especially in term one where they get kids ready for this testing. Traditionally this has been the term to thaw out Aussie kids’ brains from the long, hot summer baking and help them become receptive to the knowledge they will receive in the new school year. Naplan years are now practising test papers instead and even “off year Naplan testing” is happening as enterprising companies have devised test papers for children in other grades.
Of course this is educational insanity and takes time away from good teaching. We are likely to drive our education standards down further as we know that quality teaching is the one factor that can make a difference.
We need to honour our teachers, nurture them, show trust and provide the tools they need. A huge number of our attending teachers pay their own fees for our courses and report they have to buy their own JOLLY PHONICS and JOLLY GRAMMAR handbooks. Their salaries are not high- less than most professions and that sends a clear message- you are not worth it!
We can carry on down this destructive and negative pathway and increase teacher and student stress or we can look at truly successful educational models such as the one in Finland and start to trust our teachers, provide higher quality training for them and stop the massive waste of energy, time and money related to NAPLAN testing.

Time to think rationally and tell some truths!


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