Closing the mindset gap!

How do we increase the attainment and confidence of our learners across Scotland? Closing the literacy and numeracy gaps in Scotland is clearly a hot topic at the moment given the publication of the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) figures.

While there is no overall magic bullet, I believe that by creating a wsf-5-5-15-180growth mindset culture within our schools; we can do much to improve children’s attainment and mental health.

Let’s focus on the issue of closing the attainment gap. The link between attainment and poverty is well documented in education research, including the Joseph Rowntree report on closing the gap. However, working to support parents and teachers to embed a growth mindset culture transcends social class. It does so by raising the bar of expectation, in a way that is realistic, based on credible feedback that is supportive, friendly and person centred. Having increased confidence, resilience, appetite for learning and understanding by working hard and practising different strategies can bridge the deficit when there may be little aspiration or value attached to education in the family home.

So, how do we make it practical? Growth mindset has the potential to act as a way of supporting vulnerable learners by working on their resilience and using a growth mindset to increase appetite and engagement with learning and allowing those who have reached a good command of a subject to achieve mastery while enabling everyone to improve. Teachers can fulfil this role as well by thinking about the language they use in class and how they differentiate work for pupils – thinking through their own judgements that are applied to student potential (such as avoiding the use of ‘sets’ at too early a stage; using mixed ability groupings to encourage learning, peer learning opportunities, etc).

Mindset activities within the school should be included within school plans but not necessarily as a separate area for improvement. Think what can growth mindset can do within the context of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Standing back and looking at all activities that happen within the school can create the opportunity to think about teaching and engagement strategies that help learners to seek help, understand their intelligence is not fixed and that everyone can improve in their education.

We need to pay attention to transition points, to language, to the curriculum and in ensuring that everyone across the school community is working hard to promote growth mindset consistently and based on a plan that is right for your particular school and community.

So, what are you going to do today to make mindset real within your school for your pupils, fellow staff and parents? Comment below if you are using mindset to help attainment in your school.

John Paul

6 thoughts on “Closing the mindset gap!”

  1. Excellent post JP contains all the key points succinctly and is a great resource in pitching GM and winning over the sceptics.

  2. Excellent post JP – all the key points for debate succinctly put. An excellent resource in taking forward the argument and winning over the sceptics.

  3. Hi

    I would love to use this approach on placement. I’m a BA2 student at Strathclyde. Can you guide me how I could use this please ?

    1. Hi Michelle

      Hope your course going well and thanks for the comment.

      Firstly I would think about where are the opportunities to teach children about the brain? And get the message over that the more the work hard and practice the more their brain grows and develops.

      What exercises could you incorporate into lesson planning so that children are learning from mistakes ? Is there something that coils be done with a more co operative approach in terms of classroom setup? Have a look at our resources and case studies. There are also some resources on TESS depending on whether it’s primary or secondary you are in.

      Speak to your head teacher too – and if school is needing help with a cross school approach one of our team could possibly visit?

      Let me know how you get on.

      John Paul

  4. Hi John Paul.
    I heard you speak at the CELCIS Education conference in Glasgow and found your presentation very inspiring. I am currently running a project for Adoption UK to help adopted and looked after children (initially a pilot project in the North Berwick cluster of East Lothian) have a better experience of school and to begin to build a culture of attachment awareness in our schools. I wonder if it might be possible for us to get together for a chat about how your approach might link in to the work we are doing here? If you could send me an email I could send you some more info and maybe we could take it from there???
    Kind regards
    Kathy Allan

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