Governments and Education systems around the world have all been struggling to find ways forward since the start of the pandemic. Curiously one of the success stories of the last decades has come from one of the poorest regions in Brazil, Ceará and specifically the city of Sobral. With a generally low level of basic skills achieved at school, aided in part by the disorganised and hapless approach of the Bolsonaro government and its predecessors. Among the methods used to achieve the high grades has been: merging small schools with big ones in order to enable more children to learn from good teachers; focusing obsessively on ensuring that small children learned to read; teachers awarded bonuses if learning targets attained; city prepared lesson plans; and one day dedicated to training per month. Other cities and countries could learn from this simple but effective approach.