The aim of the project was, initially, to challenge a group of young people in S4 who were at risk of underperforming in the upcoming SQA examination diet. We wanted to target this group and see if our project could help these young people establish and develop a growth mindset. It evolved into a wider reaching project, where the young people chosen became Mindset Leaders within our school community, assisting in the development of a growth mindset for their peers and younger members of the school. We wanted to provide the pupils with experiences that they would never normally volunteer for, to improve their confidence, resilience, ability to bounce back from failure and motivation as they approached their final exams. We also wanted to equip them with the skills that they may need as they move on from school, to improve their mental health and resilience.
The project met, if not exceeded, our expectations. We were overwhelmed by the response from the young people. During the planning stage, we had concerns that some of the participants might be cynical and not engage. However, they were very enthusiastic and open to shifting their mindset. As the project developed, we wished we had a bit more time to deliver a few more lessons to the pupils, given how much they embraced the opportunity.
At the end of the project, we wished we had made our initial project a bit bigger and more ambitious. We therefore decided, working with our Head Teacher, to place a greater focus on growth mindset over the next academic year. The participants benefited so much from the project, we want to involve a larger group of young people and are considering including a series of growth mindset lessons into one of our S4 life skills classes.
If we were to run the project again, we would keep many of the arrangements the same. The time of year worked well, being a critical time for those young people who find it more difficult to achieve exam success. We also believe that there is room within the school plan to prioritise growth mindset at a whole school level. As such, we will be looking to expand our reach with the support of senior members of staff. Ideally, we would have time to deliver the growth mindset lessons ourselves by ensuring cover for other teaching commitments.
The delivery of our project went mostly to plan. We were fortunate that we were not impacted by strike days, which meant we could deliver all aspects of the project and have maximum impact. We had the full support of the class teachers of the Skills for Life, Language and Work class, who were well equipped to deliver the lessons, making delivery of the project straightforward. The participants also grasped the concept of a growth mindset a lot faster than we had anticipated. Their enthusiasm meant that we managed to stick to the six week timeframe.
We made relatively few changes to our plan following the start date. The only major change was taking the concept of a growth mindset to the wider school, a bit quicker than expected. We had this in mind for the next academic year. However, the enthusiasm of the participants led us to allow them to present at an S1 assembly towards the end of the project. We took this as a positive result and were glad that the pupils were leading the change themselves and showing more confidence. We decided to mark the completion of the project and their role as Mindset Leaders, by awarding them with a badge to wear on their blazers.
We had some significant success in fostering a growth mindset within the young people who participated in the project. Evidence gathered from our questionnaires indicated a small but significant shift towards a growth mindset for all our participants. This took us by surprise and was a pleasing result. Although 6 out of our 15 participants still had a fixed mindset, they had moved in the right direction, and we hoped that they would continue to improve beyond the project. Significantly, 60% of participants saw a shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset over the course of our project, with one pupil’s score rising from 2.83 to 5. Overall, the average mindset score rose from 3.39 to 4.49, which exceeded our expectations.
We also noticed a shift in mindset from the data we gathered from the Mentimetre activity. We posed the question “How do you feel when you have made a mistake” to the participants at the beginning and end of the project. At the outset, pupils returned angry faced and sad faced emojis, along with terms such as “angry”, “distraught” and “stupid”. When questioned at the end of the project, many responded using phrases such as, “try again”, “try another way”, “grow” and “chance to improve”. There was still some evidence of a fixed mindset in the responses, but overall, we saw an impressive change in the language used over a short period of time.
Finally, we were delighted at the end of our project when a number of participants presented about their experience to their year group. The young people were very nervous to do this in front of their peers. However, they spoke confidently about their experience of the project and introduced the concept of growth mindset to the rest of their year group.
We are confident that the project has had a significant impact on the project participants as well as their wider year group and the S1 cohort. There was a clear shift in the mindset of the participants between the beginning and the end of the project. We expect that as we continue to embed growth mindset within the curriculum, these young people will see more of a shift towards a growth mindset over the remainder of their time in school. Significantly, there was also an increase in attendance from 13 out of 15 of our participants. As the target group had suffered low motivation, we believe this had improved and led to an increase in attendance. This should hopefully translate into improved attainment as we approach the May exam diet. We will be able to assess this later in the year as we compare our tracking data to the pupils’ results.
The project has also had a significant impact on the colleagues involved. Our own mindsets have shifted as we apply what we have learned to our own teaching. We are very mindful of the phrases used when providing feedback to the learners, both written and verbal. As a group, we recognise the need to roll growth mindset out across the school to extend its impact. The small working group we have formed contains teachers from Maths, Science, Social Subjects and PE, and we will continue to drive change across those departments to embed growth mindset into the curriculum.
A photograph showing the school assembly on growth mindset led by the S4 pupils is below.
The Metimetre results showing how the pupils responded when they were asked "How do you feel when you make a mistake?" before and after the project, are also shown below:
At the end of our project, we sought feedback from our main stakeholders. The class teachers who assisted in the delivery of the growth mindset lessons felt that they had developed an increasing understanding of the concept of growth mindset and are planning to undertake more CLPL on the topic. The Depute Head responsible for S4 was delighted with the visible change in the young people involved and was very impressed that they had the confidence to present to their peers. The improvement in their attendance was also welcome, highlighting the clear, short term positive impacts of the project. And our Head Teacher is very keen to roll the project out across the school, tying it in with the first two priorities in our School Improvement Plan.
Moving forwards, we are very keen to have growth mindset embedded within our school culture. Our Head Teacher has been incredibly supportive and will enable this. We will present our project to the full school staff at the start of next year, introducing those who have not heard of a growth mindset to the concept and plan to offer CLPL sessions throughout the year to upskill staff. We also hope to offer growth mindset lessons to the rest of the school through our PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education) classes, working alongside the Pastoral Staff. And, for the young people we have been working with, they will become Mindset Leaders and deliver their own sessions to staff and support delivery of the lessons in PSHE.