Working together

    I recently came across the Latin phrase ‘multum in parvo’, which directly translated, means ‘much in little’. This reminded me of a phrase that I first heard just after the Olympics in 2012. The Head of the incredibly successful British Cycling Team, Dave Brailsford, is famous for developing the concept of ‘marginal gains’. This is how he explains it:

    “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%; you will get a significant increase when you put them all together”

    He goes on to describe some of the detail they got into as a team.

    “There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places. Do you really know how to clean your hands without leaving the bits between your fingers? If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less. They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.”

    This is indeed a modern day, sporting example of ‘multum in parvo’. How can we apply the concept of ‘aggregating marginal gains’ to learning and life in the Abbeyfield community? I believe the answer is straightforward and here are a few suggestions:

    • Shifting attendance from 94% to 96% can mean an increase in achievement by one whole grade across all subjects.
    • Ensuring that your child is in bed earlier without their phone, game or laptop might mean they get a better night’s sleep. They are then more likely to be in on time and start the day off in the right way.
    • Reduce your child’s consumption of fizzy drinks or even worse, high energy drinks. Ensuring that each student has a healthy diet including fruit and vegetables and plenty of water would have a very significant effect on concentration and application.
    • When was the last time you read with your child? Reading is at the very heart of learning. Encouraging students to read books and newspapers can only help.
    • If students gained one additional word (over and above what they will normally gain) every day, that would be some 300 words a year, or 1500 words over their Abbeyfield education.
      If we could multiply these small gains over twenty or thirty different things, the gains would be significant.

    Success at school is a communal activity which requires partnership working. This is nicely summed up in the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. If we want our young people to be truly successful, we must work together, supportive families are at the very heart of good schooling.

    We need families to instil discipline into their children; we need families to ensure that bed times are sensible, that homework is done, and that diets are healthy. By working together we can make the most of these marginal gains and small gains over every aspect of Abbeyfield life will make a huge difference. So when you spend time with your son or daughter this evening, remember to talk about ‘multum in parvo’.

    Parent Questionnaire

    In putting together the School’s Development Plan (SDP) we look to identify the strengths and weaknesses within the school by way of a questionnaire. Any identified weaknesses will continue to inform our actions for improvement in the development plans.

    The responses to this questionnaire represent snapshots of the views parents and carers have expressed in the course of an evening. Thank you to those who took the time to complete the questionnaires.


    All parents of children in year 5 are invited to attend our Open Evenings. These events provide parents with an opportunity to hear the Headteacher speak about the school, have a tour, see examples of students’ work and have informal discussions with teaching staff. We hope you will come along to these events to appreciate the attributes of Abbeyfield School but if any date is not convenient, please contact the school on 01249 464500 to arrange an alternative date.

    You can download the prospectus from the top of this page.

    You may also like to access information about Wiltshire County Council Secondary School Admissions.


    ‘multum in parvo’
    Headteacher’s message to every Abbeyfield parent