The Decisive Element

Unleashing praise and positivity in schools

By: Gary Toward , Chris Henley , Mick Malton


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Size: 198 x 125mm

Pages : 208

ISBN: 9781785833120

Format: Paperback

Published: June 2018


In The Decisive Element: Unleashing praise and positivity in schools Gary Toward, Mick Malton and Chris Henley share an abundant array of tools and techniques to help schools nurture a more positive, praise based culture in which everyone can thrive.

Foreword by Jaz Ampaw-Farr.

Forget data. Forget league tables. Forget the national curriculum. Teachers are the true weather gods in education. The default outlook in schools at present, however, seems to be ‘gloom’. Our schools’ staff are under relentless pressure, and their ever-increasing workloads can make it easy to forget about the humans they work with. So what can teachers do to bring back the sunny weather and make pupils’ school lives more joyous?

Gary, Mick and Chris believe that the answer lies in harnessing the power of praise and positivity.

In The Decisive Element they offer an uplifting antidote to the anxiety by sharing praise focused techniques that will help teachers and school leaders create an ethos of enthusiasm: one that reduces stress, fuels ambition and builds confidence – for staff and pupils alike. Crammed full of sound research, fresh ideas and top tips, this manifesto for positive mindsets celebrates the value of meaningful, impactful praise and shines a light on the myriad ways positivity can be unleashed to spark pupils’ motivation and natural curiosity for learning.

The book draws upon the authors’ vast experience and anecdotal insights to provide sage guidance on how to create a self-sustaining positive climate for learning, and contains a wealth of practical strategies to ramp up the feel-good factor in the school setting so that staff and pupils can feed off each other’s enthusiasm. It also flips the script on the stresses and strains of modern schooling by offering a more light-hearted perspective on teachers’ and pupils’ day-to-day interactions – encouraging school staff to be proud of what they do and empowering them to make an even bigger difference in the lives of the young people in their care.

Suitable for anyone lucky enough to work in education or with children.

Chapters include:

  1. The Big R: Creating the Climate in School
  2. Making the Weather in the Classroom
  3. Practical Weather Making
  4. Praise and Positivity
  5. Getting the Most Out of Praise
  6. Praise Unleashed
  7. Weather Gods

The quoted text on the cover of this title has been extracted from Ginott, H. (1972), Teacher and Child: A Book for parents and teachers (NY: Macmillan), p. 15.

The Decisive Element has been named the Bronze Winner in the education category of the 2018 INDIES Book of the Year Awards.


Picture for author Gary Toward

Gary Toward

Gary Toward is a trainer, keynote speaker and novelist who has previously taught in seven schools countrywide. He was head teacher of three schools in Leicestershire, during which time he co-led a pupil referral unit (PRU) out of special measures.


Picture for author Chris Henley

Chris Henley

Chris Henley is a trainer and keynote speaker who taught for over thirty years in three different secondary schools. Chris is an inspirational teacher who moved on from leading an outstanding languages department to become a senior leader. As assistant head in charge of teaching and learning, he played a major role in two successful Ofsted inspections.


Picture for author Mick Malton

Mick Malton

Mick Malton has spent over thirty-five years in education and has enjoyed senior leadership posts in three different schools, including headship in a secondary school. Recently he has been the lead for the Pilgrim Learning Trust, a formal collaboration of twenty-eight schools across the primary and secondary age range in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.


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