Vision Meeting – Growth Mindset

gmdhsToday I led the second of our new breakfast ‘vision meetings’ – looking at how we can continue to embed a growth mindset across the school.  These are voluntary meetings where members of our leadership team share their vision, for an aspect of work that they are responsible for, with a group of interested staff, who then give their input into how to best implement the vision.  We’ve already done a great deal in terms of mindset and sharing excellence  across the school – but we want to do more.  So following a discussion on what we’ve achieved so far, based on the ideas from the three great books below, staff at the meeting were asked to think about how else we could develop this further.


As usual, when you put a group of school staff into a room together, they come up with some great ideas.  They are listed below under the following categories:

  • Expectation of excellence
  • Be inspired by others
  • Effort & mastery – perfect practice
  • Respond to feedback
  • Resilience


Expectation of Excellence

  • Change the attitude from ‘cannot’ to ‘I can but not just yet’.
  • Have challenging learning objectives for all – not all, most, some.
  • No target grades below C – why expect failure?
  • Don’t accept sub-standard work – hand it back and ask for it to be re-done.
  • Have aspirational targets (not minimum expected targets).
  • WOW walls around school / classrooms – state what we expect.
  • Displays changed more often. Less displays but changed more often.
  • More risk taking in lessons.
  • More direct challenge and accountability for leaders.
  • More people observing more people (peer obs).
  • Find more ways for all students to experience pride in their work – if we only focus on an elite few, many will feel sidelined.
  • Make incentives that are explicitly linked to effort. Proper prizes.
  • Encourage students to set their own personal improvment targets.
  • Do all staff know what excellence looks like in their subject?
  • Are there examples of excellent work to inspire students, in every classroom?
  • Develop the use of re-drafting more.


Be inspired by others

  • Observation ‘tokens’ – two a year to observe colleagues.
  • Celebrate and display examples of excellent student work.
  • Mo Farah ‘Quorn’ advert – no secret, just train hard!
  • Extend student support (peer mentoring).
  • Promoting positive student role models across year groups.
  • Photos / examples of success – in and out of school.
  • Wider use of guest speakers – notable previous students etc. to inspire current students.
  • A clean school with a smart team – show pride in the school.
  • End of year prize-giving / celebration for all years with parents – make it a big deal like graduation.
  • Student led assemblies.
  • Make more use of external visitors from all walks of life.
  • Past students visiting lessons – to deliver lessons and raise aspirations.
  • Student led 15 minute forums for other students – on how to learn.
  • Students to award other students for effort and hard work.
  • Photos in foyer of student SLT.
  • Wall of wonderment at front of school – excellent student achievement.
  • New school photos for website.
  • Staff photos for displays need updating. Use school photographer when he comes in in September.
  • Use excellent students to teach parts of lessons.
  • More voluntary community work – hospitals / care homes – feel inspired.
  • All departments to take students on trips to places of inspiration or to see their subject in the ‘real world’.
  • Without discussing personal information be ‘real’ to the students so they can see everyone has a journey.


Effort and mastery – perfect practice

  • Plan work (spider diagram / mindmap / list) – 1st draft, peer / self-assessment – final draft.
  • Avoid using phrases such as ‘Well done, you must be really talented’.   Instead, praise them for the effort and hard work they must have put into mastering the idea or skill.
  • Plan time in lessons for students to deliberately practice using their new knowledge and skills.
  • Make sure that practice is perfect – spot any address misconceptions, errors etc.
  • Return to ideas a few lessons down the line – keeps it topped up!
  • Consider metacognitive strategies such as proof reading and redrafting.
  • Awards – high profile to recognise amazing effort. Articles in the press?
  • Making ‘kudos’ a good thing.
  • In lessons – give students time to practice and improve.
  • Always use the best example from within the class as part of feedback.
  • Links with colleges and universities so students can see why it is important and to raise aspirations (transition to 6th form to be extended and improved).


Respond to feedback

  • Encourage a culture where students / staff do not fear failure – we learn from our mistakes.
  • Provide more opportunities in lessons for DIRT – enabling students to close the gap.
  • Mark work in the lesson with the students – instant feedback and response.
  • Use a range of feedback such as verbal, written, teacher, peer and self.
  • Develop the technique of ‘gallery critique’.
  • Using Padlet more in lessons to encourage feedback.
  • Diary / review of progress in a subject. What have I learnt to do / how to improve on.
  • Less marking of routine ‘notes’, more focused marking.
  • Allowing students to talk to each other and discuss their work.



  • Supporting students to understand failure is a part of learning and to not give up.
  • Not to fear failure and therefore not try.
  • Encourage to try, try, and try again and not to give up.
  • Not helping students immediately when they ask for help – instead let them try to figure it out for themselves and embrace the struggle!  Let them explain to you.
  • Students who have successfully adopted a growth mindset to mentor students who do not have this.
  • Make more use of nternet access in every classroom, then use either LearnPads / PCs/ mobile devices to allow students to look for answers themselves.
  • Never accept ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I don’t know’ – answer with ‘not yet’.

It was great to see so much discussion about such an important topic – with many great ideas coming forward.  The next step is to consider how to action them.  What became clear from the discussion was that if we are to truly embed a growth mindset, it needs to permeate everything we do.  How we teach, how we lead, every conversation we have with students, colleagues and parents.

A ‘Mindset Manifesto’ might be a starting point……..

mindset manifesto

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11 Responses to Vision Meeting – Growth Mindset

  1. It seems to me that there is a mountain of stuff here. Implementing too many of these things at once could easily lead to tokenism and superficiality. What are the key changes needed and how can they be implemented in a focussed way? What are the key required outcomes?

    From the blog, the key appears to be Aspiration – aspiration all round. How can this be implemented in a focussed, non-gimmicky way?

    • Thanks for the comment. The intention is for it to be by no means gimmicky or short lived – it’s becoming a way of working – for the long term. We’ll reflect on the discussions from this morning and then think carefully about progressing them. Some quick gains that can be implemented easily by staff, with others being more long term and some underway already.

      • Indeed. I get the feeling that this is likely to be a big change? The key, imo, is clear focus – a clear exposition that everyone can immediately grasp…….

  2. Not really a big change – more an ongoing development that’s been going for a year or so.

  3. Reblogged this on HPE&things and commented:
    Mindset again, amazing how it affects so much!

  4. Pingback: Mindset: Just do it…. | Class Teaching

  5. Mrbenney says:

    An excellent blog Shaun. I am enjoying more and more about growth mindset. I truly believe (as everyone in education must) that working harder leads to someone being better and more successful.
    The one point I don’t think I agree with is your statement on no target grades being below a C because it is accepting failure. There is a lot of truth in the statement though. I always challenge staff for putting a D for a target (even if the pupil is very unlikely to get a C). However, there may be a handful of pupils in a cohort where any sort of GCSE grade would be a huge achievement for them. To suggest for all pupils that anything under a C is a failure I think narrows our views of success and reinforces the cliff edge nature of the C/D borderline.
    I agree with nearly everything in the blog though. It’s a fantastic read.

  6. Thanks Damian. It’s an interesting question isn’t it and one I don’t know the answer to – what would happen if we really believed and expected all students to achieve at least a C? I’m fascinated by the Pygmalion Effect.

  7. Glynpotts says:

    Hi Shaun, thanks for the excellent blog. We are just about to embark on our own journey that will hopefully have GM at its centre. Your blog has helped clarify some direction points as well as our conviction to strive for ALL children. Thank you. G

  8. Sylvia Thomas says:

    A great set of ideas to muse upon Shaun. Have already dropped the pebble in the pool at the school I move to in September that we will be working towards the principles espoused by Carol Dweck. I look forward to seeing your journey played out through your blog

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