As a Growth Mindset school we actively encourage challenge, resilience and effort in all of our students. Based on the principles of ‘Growth Mindsets’ by psychologist Carol Dweck, we believe that everyone’s abilities and talents can be developed through dedication and hard work. We aim to create a love of learning and resilience in the face of challenge and difficulties. In practice this means that our pupils are urged to see mistakes as an important part of the learning journey, not as failure. Pupils are praised for consistent effort, resilience and determination rather than quick success. They are encouraged to challenge themselves in every aspect of learning – planning, researching, producing and reworking. We encourage a ‘critical eye’ at all stages of the learning process, developing the skills, perception, evaluation and emotional intelligence in order to foster appreciation of their capacity to learn and improve.
A whole school culture of ‘Resilience’ and ‘Growth Mindset’ is dependent on the core principles permeating every aspect of school life; school assemblies, personal development activities, coaching groups, rewards and also communication with parents and key stakeholders. Over a three-year period we have reviewed and amended our practice in all of these areas to ensure we foster and promote these core principles in everything we do.
Our curriculum offer in Year 7 and 8 includes Mindset lessons, one hour a week. Students are supported in developing strategies to deal with and overcome challenges in all aspects of life. Modules of work around understanding how the brain works helps students to understand themselves as learners and their reactions to different situations. The encouragement of challenge, resilience and a positive mindset within all of our students underpins our approach to educate the whole child and ensure they become life-long learners, equipped with the knowledge and skills they will need to become successful adults, both in the workplace and beyond.
At the start of Year 7 all students take part in a Mindset Residential, a three day off site programme which involves forming new friendship and working groups, engaging in teambuilding activities with new and unfamiliar children and adults, and taking part in mental and physical challenge activities. The development of strong relationships and resilience are the foundations for successful learning throughout a student’s life at Priesthorpe School. These experiences are reinforced and further developed in three Personal Development Days each year, when the teaching timetable is suspended for a full day.
Collaborative work with local schools has involved joint training days with a focus around Growth Mindset. In November 2013 Barry Hymer presented to 200 delegates from 12 local primary and secondary schools. This collaborative approach to training has supported smooth transition, embedding key messages around ‘Resilience’ and ‘Growth Mindset’. This has been further supported by a cross phase project in 2014/15. A one-year programme for twenty members of staff from Priesthorpe and five other local primary feeder schools, the Growth Mindset Intervention Programme, delivered with the support of Barry Hymer and Steve Ingle from Cumbria University, focussed on small action research projects. These action research projects have informed key focus areas, including questioning and language used in assessment and feedback, to further embed a culture of ‘Resilience’ and ‘Growth Mindset’. Work on these cross phase projects has been widely shared with other schools through Osiris Mindset Conferences.
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