Growth Mindset Learning

Growth Mindset Learning

Here at Huntington school we’ve been thinking really carefully about how we continue to develop the great work we’ve started on creating a Growth Mindset culture. We know through evidence that staff and students are acutely aware of the basic concepts of the theory, they get the thinking behind the three mindset traits we’ve developed (examples below). Students and staff can express, with ease, the talent V’s effort quandary, they know that their brain is malleable and can be developed like a muscle and that they can get better at things with hard work and effort. All this though only demonstrates a ‘surface’ understanding of mindsert and we now need to be more nuanced about successfully embedding a  ‘deeper’ understanding; getting staff to change ingrained practice and students to put thinking into practise. Our whole school aim typifies our approach to mindset:  

We strive as a school to develop a Growth Mindset in our students, enabling them to be resilient and curious learners, who work hard to achieve highly.’

To truly embed mindset into the schools DNA we need to develop a school that has a deeper understanding of the mindset theory; moving from the initial ‘introductory stage’ to a more defined ‘embedding stage’ or phase two of mindset as we are calling it. We have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking and researching into how we do this, at times getting really bogged down in the detail. Not many schools are going beyond this initial stage and we have found this challenging and difficult work. However, we found that by turning mindset on its head and going back to the basic core principles of the  theory, see the three traits below, we have a clearer focus. You can see our charted progress below:

Mindset 1: How you want to appear to others Mindset 1 Mindset 2 Responding to Setbacks Mindset 2 Mindset 3: Talent V’s Effort Mindset 3 Combining the Growth Mindset attributes together we see a clear distinction between the statements: GM Attributes In summary this equates to the core principles of GM:           Effort + Strategies + Feedback

So if we are to really embed GM into the DNA of the school we must focus on these three core principles. This links directly with the ‘fuller formula’ for success (Yeager, Waltor and Cohen) and encompasses the elements of our ‘GM Learning’ model:

GM Learning = Effort + Strategies (help from others)

or our more refined student friendly version: Final Final

For a more succinct presentation see our training and implementation slides here:

Growth Mindset Training and Implementation

Details regarding the core principles of GM Learning can be seen below, however a note of caution we are still very much in the draft stage and things may well change!


‘Effort is the key’ If effort is the thing how do we get students to work harder and increase their effort? The key isn’t just effort alone, it’s motivating students to work hard and value effort as an integral part of GM Learning. Our new effort descriptors reinforce the notion that hard work and effort are crucial elements for success; gone is the old satisfactory grading, does anybody really want to be satisfactory anyway? These descriptors are much more rigorous inline with new tougher qualifications. The key to successfully embedding these descriptors isn’t the introduction of the descriptors themselves (they are just the framework for describing effort behaviours). It’s the question of how do you improve your effort? Doing the right things in lessons, adopting the GM approach; responding to feedback, using the right strategies and exerting effort into tasks. See what you make of our ‘insufficient’ grading:

Effort Descriptors


We are in the process of developing a ‘feedback policy’ apposed to a ‘marking policy’, which gives autonomy to departments to shape aspects of the whole school policy; a policy with core elements but enough flexibility for different teaching approaches. This combined with a interactive feedback toolkit; comprising of ‘talking heads’ student videos and feedback evaluation tools using student ratings, should be the first step towards developing this aspect of GM Learning.


We want every member of our staff to understand and develop the following core principles of Mindset:

  1. Think carefully about the language they use in every interaction with every student.
  2. Give students constructive feedback about their work, and then allow them time to act on it.
  3. Set high standards; challenge students from the start. Allow students to learn from their mistakes and develop perseverance and resilience.
  4. Use the right kind of praise; praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and this ultimately harms their performance.

Through this detailed understanding of mindset and through thorough research we have identified four strands of pedagogy that are backed up by the mindset theory these are: Memory and Mindset; The Power of Feedback; Excellence and Failure; and The language of Learning. This will form the cornerstone of our thinking on ‘adopting the right strategies’. See our introduction to the document attached below: 

Can I be that little bit better…

Four things about ‘Mindset’ you need to know and do: includes a paragraph explanation, then three action points (things that you could implement right away, easy wins) and potential further reading. learing brain See the full draft strategy document here (still working on it):

Mindset Implementation Plan Draft Copy

Much more work to do, but we have a plan! Thank you to everyone who has collaborated on this work and sorry if we have failed to reference anyone.


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