The aim of the project was to work with pupils from P1-7 who had been identified as having a negative attitude towards school and learning (through PASS questionnaires and teacher observations). Within small groups the pupils had the opportunity to discuss the challenges they are faced with in the classroom and develop their understanding of growth mindset and how this can positively impact them in the classroom. The small groups met once a week for discussions over a hot chocolate- we called these Hug-a-mug sessions. The aim of this format was to encourage the pupils to relax and participate in a non-threatening environment. By examining the issues that were experienced by the children the aim was to help the pupils move forward and as a result of the interventions, they would have a more positive attitude towards school and their learning, and their confidence and resilience would improve.
The project aim was to improve pupils’ attitude towards school and learning.
The project was successful and had an impact on each individual. The results differ for each pupil but overall most pupils increased in at least one of their lower scoring areas. However, the group who participated in every session, their scores show a significant increase. The results show the pre and post measurements which highlights the change in scores. The significant increases underlined how important their relationship was with the lead teacher. By meeting on a regular basis and supporting all needs, pupils felt listened to and that change could happen.
On reflection, if the project was to be repeated there are some changes that would make it run more smoothly and potentially have a huge impact on all participating pupils.
· The project was most successful for the pupils who completed all of the sessions and who spent time talking to their lead teacher in confidence. These pupils established a trusting rapport with their teacher and were open to try out strategies. They were supported to confront their fears and worries and helped become more positive and confident in themselves. Therefore, I would try to ensure that before the project starts that no member of SLT is over-committed and has the time to be involved. If they have to cancel a session, I would ask that they re-schedule so that by the end of the project pupils have taken part in all of the planned sessions.
· The project could start in May (term 4) to collect the data and the input sessions could then take place in term 1 of the new session. If PASS is sat by all pupils in May, then the results can be used as part of transition information from the current class teacher about the learners in her class and how to support appropriately. The new teacher is then equipped with the knowledge on who requires additional support and is aware of this from day 1. Group input sessions on any growth mindset strategies can then be implemented in term 1 by a member of SLT and the class teacher can reinforce and support in term 2, 3 and 4 which will have a positive impact on the pupil and subsequently their attainment.
· More input for class teachers, so they understand how to support all learners by using growth mindset strategies. It’s important that classes can talk about learning and what this means to them and how they can improve. By unpicking what is effective feedback, all pupils understand that a criticism is not personal but a way to improve work. It also needs to be said in a respectful way and constructive manner.
· Parents can also be more involved through conversation, sharing learning visits, homework.
· Some pupils scores did not improve-why? PASS offers a snapshot of how the individual feels on the day. It does not take into account if you’ve been late for school, fallen out with your best friend or lost your favourite pencil case. A potential solution to this would be to compare the PASS scores from previous years. Are there any low sores that stand out? Are they the same children each year? Do they reinforce teacher observations and judgement or parental feedback? The score is opening up a conversation to have with the learner and how to help them.
The project started in the week beginning 26th February 2019 and the last session was in the week beginning 11th May 2019. There were 7 weekly sessions planned to focus on the questions pupils had responded negatively towards in the PASS, and a further two weeks at the end of the project was factored in to allow for any flexibility in case of unexpected events. Primary Seven had transition days to high school which were taken into account by their group lead.
Feedback from the SLT indicated mixed responses about sticking to the timelines. Due to unexpected events it was not always possible for the sessions to go ahead when they had been scheduled for, as SLT were having to cover classes or had been called away to deal with other matters. This was the case for three of the groups, who did not manage to have all seven sessions. To improve this, I would ask that SLT do not over commit to a project and if a session is cancelled then to reschedule within the timescale so that 7 sessions are completed by the end of the project.
The built- in time at the end of the project was invaluable as the school experienced difficulties with the internet and the re-testing had to be completed in smaller groups over the two weeks. Having some time at the end of the project also ensured that any pupil who had been absent on the day of retesting for their group, was able to complete the test.
There were no changes made to the project plan over the course of the project.
The growth mindset project has had a positive impact on not just the pupils who participated in the project but all of the pupils in the school.
The project was completed in May 2019, just as pupils were starting transition activities with their new classes. Most of the year groups were all mixed up and children were put into new classes. Transition can be a stressful time for some children, as they navigate a new set of rules in a different classroom and with people they do not know very well. This year, staff commented that pupils adjusted quickly to the changes and in August settled into classroom routines ready to embrace new challenges in their learning. The project supported those involved to have a more positive attitude towards school and their learning. Most pupils (who attended all of the sessions) demonstrated more self-confidence and were more willing to have a go and take on new challenges. During the later sessions the pupils had the opportunity to discuss any worries they had about transition. The Lead Mindset teacher was then able to share with class teachers any information about how to support individuals, so that everyone had the best start in their new class. This time spent discussing learners and their needs has ensured that teachers understand the children in their class and the concerns or worries they may have which can then be addressed.
From the project, it is not just the pupils who have improved. By examining the data from PASS, teachers have been able to compare the pre and post assessment data and see how the scores have improved or not. They have been able to look more closely at the questions the pupils have to answer and have examined a cohorts’ response. By looking at the results and talking to colleagues about the range of ways there are to support learners, many teachers are beginning to develop and incorporate a growth mindset approach in their teaching. They can see how it positively impacts the pupils in their class and are continuing to make pupils aware of how important it is to make mistakes and what to do when this happens. All teachers are now teaching focused lessons about resilience and the implications for learners in school and at home. The data highlights pupils’ responses to aspects of school and this gives teachers an area to work on with individuals, or whole classes, if need be.
By comparing the pre and post measurements there is evidence that the project has had an impact on some of the pupils who took part in it. (Appendix 1)
The pupils selected to take part had scored a low or low moderate satisfaction with their school experience, in at least one category of the PASS questionnaire. The aim of the project was to focus on the low scoring category and analyse the questions being asked for this category and the pupils’ responses. By analysing the pupils’ responses, the subsequent sessions could be tailored to address the issues unveiled.
For pupils in P1-3 “Learner self-worth” was identified as a low score category. This measure is focused specifically on self- awareness as a learner, highlighting levels of motivation and determination. Despite the group having no input from SLT, all pupils who had a low score increased their score. Two pupils made a significant jump to a high satisfaction and two moved up to the next band- low moderate satisfaction.
Pupils in the groups who attended all of the sessions had the largest increase in their scores. The pupils pre measurements highlighted more than one area to focus on, with sessions prepared to examine most of the categories. Pupils had low scores on their feelings about school, their perceived learning capability, attitudes to teachers and attendance and confidence in learning. The post measurements show that all pupils improved their scores with most achieving the high satisfaction level on 6+ categories. Child C in P4 scored a low level for perceived learning ability and preparedness for learning and confidence in learning. They did not make a dramatic jump but did improve and move to the low moderate and moderate satisfaction level. It would be interesting to compare these results with an up to date assessment and see if there has been any more progress and improvement. Another pupil to note is Child E in P4 who had one of the lowest scoring profiles in the pre measurement. They made huge progress in 5 of the categories changing from a low level to a high level of satisfaction (P4, Appendix 1).
The pupils in P4 and P6 who had little input from SLT had mixed results. Some pupils made progress within a level or up one level, whereas others stayed the same. The results do show an improvement which may be a result of some of the input the pupils will have experienced in class time with the Mindset teacher. It is important for SLT to be involved as children like to be listened to by the people they think have the power to make positive changes in the school. The relationship is key to the success of the project.
The feedback from class teachers has been positive about the project (Appendix 4). They had looked at the pre-measurements and understood why certain children were asked to take part, but they were unsure of how the issues were going to be addressed. By working alongside staff their understanding of growth mindset has grown however there are a number of teachers who want more support and guidance to help them feel more confident about using mindset in their classes. The teaching staff has changed over the last year and many of the newer members are not familiar with mindset work and the impact it can have.
After transition teachers commented on how settled individuals were in their classes. One teacher, P5, said, ”In comparison to last year, children appear to be happier and far more confident in themselves and their abilities. This is evident in the way they tackle new tasks and deal with set- backs with far more resilience.”
The teacher with the P5 group stated, “The children seem more open to discuss their feelings and will now try to resolve issues.”
Class teachers have become aware of how many of their class were keen to go for a hug-a-mug. Having time for a chat over a hot chocolate provided a calm and safe environment for pupils to share why they felt the way they did. This is an area which classes are going to incorporate into their timetable so that all pupils will experience a hug-a-mug and teachers can continue to build strong, trusting relationships.
As a school PASS has been used annually for two years to measure how individuals feel about school. This has been an important baseline to carry out, as sometimes it challenges a teacher’s assumption of a child in their class. Due to the positive impact of the project, PASS will be repeated this year and teachers will be supported to look at the information it gives you about your class and to plan appropriate next steps to support learners with low /low moderate scores. SLT are keen to compare last year’s baselines with this year to look for patterns. Questions to consider: Is there any age group in the school that stands out- positively/negatively? Have the pupils who had support last year maintained their last score or have they dipped? Has their support been continuous this year? Are there any new children highlighted? Do all the boys/girls answer negatively to question 25? Why? What can we do to improve this child’s school experience? Through discussion with colleagues and during planning meetings teachers will be able to plan how to undertake an intervention, and SLT will be able to identify small groups of children to work with.
The hug-a-mug format was a huge hit with the pupils, and this will be continued in classes for all pupils to enjoy together. Class teachers will try to support pupils through growth mindset interventions and plan activities for pupils to try new things, be challenged out of their comfort zone and share their learning with others. It is important for children to understand that this is a life skill and therefore inviting guest speakers from the community to talk to the school about the impact their growth mindset has had on their life would be invaluable.