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Growth Mindset

A concept which we follow at our school is growth mindset based on the work of Carol Dweck. We believe the best thing to do is to teach children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning and asking questions. Rather than simply praising success we praise effort, persistence and positive attitudes to the frequent difficulties in the process of learning.


Have a look at this video for some information about how growth mindset works:

Carol Dweck: Discovering the Importance of Mindset

How does growth mindset work in reality?


A quote from Carol Dweck:

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

This is important because (1) individuals with a “growth” theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals’ theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as “good job, you’re very smart” are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like “good job, you worked very hard” they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.”


Pupils who have growth mindset:


  • Believe that intelligence is not fixed
  • Thrive on challenge
  • Throw themselves into difficult tasks
  • Are self-confident
  • Recognise intelligence can continually be improved through effort
  • Ignore the low aspirations of their peers
  • React to failure by trying harder
  • Engage in self-monitoring
  • Have learning goals
  • Like feedback on their performance so they can improve


People with a fixed mindset will only tackle things at which they are fairly certain they will succeed. People with a growth mindset will not only tackle any task, regardless of whether they believe they will succeed or not, but will feel excited by the challenge.


We can fix mindset through our language of praise:


  • “You learned that so quickly! You’re so smart!”
  • “Look at that drawing. Is he the next Picasso or what?”
  • “You’re so brilliant”
  • “You got an A without even studying! Well done”
  • “That’s amazing, you didn’t make a single mistake”“You have natural flair”


Remember that you are the product of your upbringing and education and you may have been brought up with a fixed mindset yourself.


Ask yourself honestly:


Do I believe I won’t ever be good at something?
Do I constantly compare myself to others?
Do I give up easily?
Do I make things easier for my child so they don’t risk failure?
Do I care about where my child ranks?
Do I praise my child for getting the best / top mark?
Do I tell my child how clever they are?
Do I reinforce their negative views (I couldn’t do maths, so it’s no surprise my child can’t)?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then don’t panic – it’s easy to change your mindset!

What you will see in school


The Pit:

Above is the picture that is displayed in the school and is a visual aid for the children to describe their learning journeys throughout the day. We want the children to understand that it is okay to be stuck, and that some of their best learning is done when they find things the hardest. 


Growth Mindset displays in the classroom:

Posters to encourage children to avoid saying 'I'm Stuck'.




We want to encourage children to think that their brain is like a muscle: the more you use it the stronger it gets. 


Growth Mindset Animation

A lovely short animation explaining the theory of growth and fixed mindsets. A useful summary of what we are trying to achieve with Growth Mindset at Tylers Green Middle School