The aim of the project was to help our learners reflect and manage challenges that they faced and to recognise that they did not represent failure or a lack of ability. We discussed prelim performance and resilience and addressed how they could turn negative experiences into positive experiences. Our aim was to listen to their views, reflect on how they saw themselves, understand what obstacles they faced in school and life and how they could try and overcome them. We wanted the pupils to develop skills and confidence that would be transferrable and longstanding, and to use their experience on the project to the betterment of other pupils in the school.
Overall, the project has met expectations. We took a rigorous approach to ensure that best practice was followed and implemented. Looking back, we might have modified elements of the project to give the pupils a broader experience and to maximise the time we spent with them. We had also been keen to implement an element of outdoor learning and PE to supplement the work in the classroom. However, we were not able to incorporate these given time and other constraints. Despite this, the data analysed, including the views of the young learners, illustrated that our aim for this project was achieved. We were thrilled with the progress and development of the learners and immensely proud of them when they presented their work to over 300 peers at assembly.
The timeline that we created worked very well from a pupil and staff perspective. The project outcomes, the comparison of data, the feedback from pupils, the professional dialogue with staff all supported our view that the timeline worked. We were used to having flexibility in our timelines for school projects and always incorporate a contingency, but that was not needed for this project. The timeline of events was openly discussed with the pupils from day 1 so that it was transparent. This helped us to achieve our targets and stay on track. Should we look to further the depth of the course in the future, it might be more difficult to stick to this timeline.
No changes were made to the project following the start. We did deliberate about including some activities in a Physical Education class, as previously stated. However, we were unable to do this given constraints on access to the gym hall.
This project has altered the mindset of the teachers involved. We have become more aware of our responsibility to challenge ourselves and those around us. In our maths class, we were always faced with a handful of pupils who ‘don’t have a maths brain’ or who ‘will never be able to do this.’ We wanted to challenge this perception, to get pupils to ask why and look for ways to better themselves. We are now more focused on embracing new ideas, implementing change, and considering how ideas are presented at departmental meetings. The demands of work and family life, mean that it is possible to lose sight of what is important in our role as teachers. However, this project and the Mindset course have reinvigorated us and helped us to get back to practicing a growth mindset and showing real leadership to pupils.
We asked pupils to complete blogs as we progressed through the project. The feedback from this was invaluable. One pupil said, “sometimes I can feel a bit shy when I am answering out in class...and I feel like growth mindset has helped me with that and helped me take on more challenging tasks.” Colleagues who attended the assembly were pleasantly surprised to see this specific pupil present to a year group and commented that they were engaging more within classroom discussions and learning conversations. For other pupils involved in the project, a common view expressed on the blog beforehand was “I felt terrified to speak at assembly.” This response illustrates the size of the task that was set for the pupils and the magnitude of their achievement. When asked how they felt afterwards, they said, “I felt a lot more positive, I had been pushed massively out of my comfort zone.”
The 16 pupils involved in the project completed a questionnaire at the start and then again as the project concluded. This gave us comparable data to analyse. We used a mindset survey that scores responses, with a score of 1 to 3 indicating a fixed mindset and 4 to 6 indicating a growth mindset. The results show a small shift towards a growth mindset for all pupils, signifying good progression which we are determined to build upon as we continue to embed growth mindset across the school.
We also conducted analysis of attendance data for the pupils from before and after the project. This showed improvements for most of the pupils across all their classes. We hope that this increased attendance, alongside improved mindset, and confidence, will help these learners to engage better with their learning going forward. This group of pupils were previously disengaged with school but 60% of them saw a shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, over the course of our project. The average score for them in the mindset survey rose from 3∙39 to 4∙49 over the six weeks, which exceeded our expectations.
It was also evident through dialogue with the pupils that they felt better for having completed the project. It gave us great satisfaction to hear pupils reflect on an experience that ‘they never thought they would be allowed to do and never thought they would be able to do.’ We cannot underestimate the impact that speaking to a full year group about a topic that they have enthusiastically learned about, has had on the pupils.
The critical feedback received from colleagues was that the project was good, effective, and followed a logical plan from start to finish. The group of pupils that we worked with were not flourishing academically, and it was recognised that this could have been challenging for the project. However, one comment was that we could have given even more control over to the pupils to run the school assembly. We will consider this and other modifications as we roll out this project to the junior and senior phase of our school and incorporate it into our School Improvement Plan.
School management were supportive of the project and appreciated the impact it had on our pupils. They were encouraged by future plans to have our Mindset Ambassadors leading input at Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) lessons, so that other pupils will also benefit from their expertise. The Mindset Ambassadors will have their work showcased on a display board in a central location within the school and a badge for their blazer. We will implement a colleague working group and try to upskill staff at whole school meetings. Our vision is for other colleagues to get as much out of this project as we have, and to work together to put growth mindset at the forefront of everything that we do.