SHINE Trust speech at the House of Lords

Tonight I spoke at a SHINE Trust event at the House of Lords. I talked about the transition from primary to secondary and how there are great teachers who have great, scalable ideas on how to meet the needs of the pupils we care about the most.

Entering secondary school is exciting. A new building, new friends, new teachers, new routines, new subjects, new playgrounds and new endeavours. Best of all, new stationery! Maybe that’s just me.

For all of them it’s a rite of passage. It marks a significant moment in a child’s life and they’ll never be quite the same again.

My name is Bruno and I’m a maths teacher. Probably the only maths teacher in the country to have taught year 7s exclusively for 4 years.

So I know that entering secondary school can also be a bewildering time, especially for our most vulnerable, for those who start further behind than their peers. Or with the odds stacked against them.

If you start off behind then you need to catch up. You want someone to put the odds back in your favour. Otherwise you become one of those year 11s. The ones of whom the head of year 11 has a photo of on their wall, along with 50 others, who are now high priority.

The trouble is, by then it’s too late.

When you cook a turkey you’re supposed to start off on a high heat and then bring the temperature down. Not realise with 15 minutes to go that you need to take the foil off and turn on the nuke setting. That’s always going to get bad results.

The time to turn the heat up at school, to intervene, to catch them up, is in year 7. But what happens? Year after year damage limitation in year 11 gets priority. The time, the focus, all the stops are pulled out for them.

That prioritisation also means the high fliers in year 7 aren’t given all the opportunities to capitalise on their starting point. They have a glass ceiling over them.

However there is hope. It sits in pockets inside every school. There’s always a teacher in each department who knows what’s best for their year 7s and who has the extra spark to make their idea happen. Maybe a grammar routine or a YouTube channel, or a science pack or a breakfast club.

I had an idea just like that 8 years ago and I’d have loved to introduce you to someone who’s never far away from me, my good pal Baz Wynter. Unfortunately he didn’t make it past security, which is a shame because it would have been quite fitting that if he were here today, not only because he uses the same wigmaker as many of the Peers here but his official title is Lord High Rock God Almighty. Incidentally, Lord Gatley’s rock name is Jed Danger.

Anyhow, I think it’s true what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. I needed my pupils to know the times tables. It took me a year to realise that but when I did, I created Times Tables Rock Stars in a week.

It made the world of difference to my pupils, who by the way, went on to get the best GCSE results of any comprehensive in England, following ZERO intervention in year 11.

For three more years TT Rock Stars didn’t go beyond my classroom. Impact was high but localised.

That’s where SHINE came in. They helped me believe that I had an idea worth sharing and gave me the means to do that.

Now TTRS is in so many schools that it’s actually quicker to write a list schools not using it. It’s impacting or has impacted over 1 million children both in the short and the long-term. And if I’m right, then it will also make a difference when those children become parents.

You see there are individual and passionate teachers are devising interventions of their own all over the country, especially in the north. Some of the best ideas I’ve heard about recently have come from teachers in Blackpool, Bolton and Rotherham.

Not all of these ideas are fit for scaling but what SHINE does well is to identify those that are.

So thank for your support of SHINE this evening and going forward. I think their Bridge the Gap and Flying High initiatives are perfectly positioned to untapped those teachers with the heart and mind to make a difference when and where it’s needed most.

Rock on everyone.


  • SHINE’s Let Teachers SHINE competition offers grants to teachers who have brilliant ideas to help disadvantaged children succeed in English, maths or science.
  • If you’re a creative, passionate teacher who has an exciting new idea that will really make a difference, SHINE would love to hear about it.
  • The Let Teachers SHINE competition is run by SHINE in partnership with Tes and is open to any qualified, practising teacher working in England.
  • It’s easy to apply and SHINE can provide you with support throughout the application process.
  • Winners receive funding and support to pilot an idea, and follow on funding is available for ideas that have the potential to scale up in the future.

Apply now!

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