The thin line between ambitious and ridiculous

In the eyes of others, all my department's hard work is reduced to the number of students who get a C in their English GCSE.

The percentage of students securing at least 5 A-Cs (including Maths and English) is crucial in determining the school's standing in the league tables. A drop or even just a lack of progress will hit the number of applications. And Ofsted will be upset.

Our Headteacher has been set stern targets for this year and teachers are grumbling. The general view is that he's picking these numbers without any understanding of reality.

There is a tricky balance here. For targets to be meaningful and motivational, they have to be achievable. Yet there is also a need for ambition. If your notion of achievable is based on what has been done before then the school won't get any better. There is scope for being bold. Staff will inevitably feel pushed and under pressure; I'm afraid that's sort of the point.