Dan Leverton

Dan Leverton

Founder and CEO of 'The Big Step'

‘The Big Step’ Ahead


… a Quote I’ll remember for the rest of my life.  I was being observed during a P.E lesson, confidence was running high, I was nearing the end of three difficult years of teacher training, copious amounts of coffee and endless nights. Combine this with the fact I was born in the 80’s, with the confidence of Ronaldo and a ‘think outside the box approach to everything I do’, and yes you’ve guessed it…. AN EPIC FAIL. Trying to inspire a bottom set P.E group with a life size cut out of Michael Jordan with the Quote “you miss 100% of the shots you never take” was not part of the formula to being graded ‘Outstanding’ by my assessor. “who is this man? He’s the most successful basketball player of all time?’ An emotionless void circulating the small gymnasium, 30 pairs of beady eyed year 7 students waiting for the answer, waiting to see me fail again. They didn’t have to wait that long…. ‘I’ll give you a clue, he was in Space Jam’. The silence in the gym felt like an eternity, I wanted the floor to swallow me up, send me through a swirling vortex and spit me back onto my chair as a pensions administrator. 

If you’re like my mum, you believe that everything happens for a reason and unlike Mr Jordan she simply puts it ‘you wont know unless you try’. And that is exactly what we are doing.

‘The Big Step’ is many years in the making, but something I still feel as passionate about now as i did 5 years ago when I delivered my first summer transition programme to a number of secondary schools in Exeter. Moving from primary to secondary school is probably one, if not the biggest transition of childhood, something that needs to be planned with the attention it deserves. 

At this point children move from being a big fish in a relatively small pond to being a very small one in an unfamiliar and overwhelming ocean in comparison. During this transition, a wealth of research shows that academic performance often declines, sometimes markedly in the case of disadvantaged students. 

Summer schools are the ideal intervention to stop this waste of potential before it even begins. Students arrive back to school in September confident and excited for their new journey ahead. They’ve already made new friends, know their way around the school, and understand what is expected of them. 

In 2019 we deliver our first summer transition programme as ‘The Big Step’. We’re trying to change the way secondary schools approach KS2/3 transition and we are excited that forward thinking assistant headteacher, Lucie Wagner of Teign School, is joining forces with us to make ‘The Big Step’ a smaller step for those students attending in September 2019.

Ironically, taking the risk of trying to inspire the class with Michael Jordan quotes (and totally missing with my intentions), has made me realise that failure is ok. Knowing what is feels like to fail makes us try harder and push on to succeed in whatever we do. Taking the risk, taking that shot, and you never know, you might just go onto score the game winning basket.

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