If Not Now, When?

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Muhammed Ali


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How can we help students to perform better?

This is a blog about resilience, tolerance, failure, revision and exam motivation. I take inspiration from @DrDanNicholls‘ blog, If not now, when? Raising Achievement and have used his blog to create an assembly based on these themes. I would like to thank Dan for his resources.

The 1%:

I open my school assembly – designed for 14-18 year olds – I ask students if they are a Yes or a No person? This is supported by the following quote … and with two definitions of the word, ‘tolerance.’

“It’s an universal law, that intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education.”


If Not Now, When? Assembly Resource

I then share the 1% theory with students and take inspiration from Sir David Brailsford;

“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” Dave Brailsford (2012)



I share some of my own failures as a student.

If Not Now, When? Assembly Resource


I then share some of my own life events and how this has shaped me as a person. How I have learnt to become resilient. How has the reader overcome difficulties? Your students?

I challenge students with two key questions taken from the Searle brothers’ video. Many students found these two questions very inspiring.

  1. If Not Now, When?

  2. If Not You, Who?

I remind students that “There is NO such thing as a free lesson!” (especially sixth form students), and work out a few simple sums for the audience. This leads to revision and memory, discussing concepts from Malcolm Gladwell (10,000 hours of mastery) as well as Hermann Ebbinghaus and his Forgetting Curve.


In the final part of the assembly, I pose a number of questions to students;

  1. What if you had no time left?
  2. What if superheroes believed they could reach their potential?
  3. What if you were more responsible for your results?


Exam Season Quote:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

Muhammed Ali


I hope you find the resource useful for your own assemblies. Click the image to preview the full resource.

If Not Now, When? Assembly Resource

You can download my assembly here. Feel free to adapt. My only request, is that you respect my personal images.

10 thoughts on “If Not Now, When?

  1. Pingback: If Not Now, When? By @TeacherToolkit | Uxbridge College Teaching and Learning
  2. Thanks for this post. The forgetfulness curve is interesting – there isn’t much further drop off from 2 days to 31 by this theory. I wonder if we put energy into revisiting knowledge for two days after the initial teaching, if more information would be retained or if the curve would just start afresh from there…

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