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Growth Mindset

Posted on: 02 Oct 2015 by Headteacher

One of our principal beliefs at Wandsworth Prep is that school should be a fun, exciting place where children can learn in a secure environment and be willing to take risks when trying out new ways of learning. What drives us, is a distinct focus on ensuring that we equip each child in our care with the skills they need to succeed, to achieve their full potential both in and outside of the classroom. When children leave us at the age of 11, we want them to embark on the next stage in their learning with confidence, an innate confidence which will allow them to relish challenge.

When children first walk through our gates at the age of four, the journey towards striving to achieve individual potential begins. To achieve, children need to feel secure in their environment. Our small classes and welcoming family atmosphere provide a natural avenue which allows children to build strong and trusting relationships with their peers and teachers - a result of which is the confidence to take risks and the courage to persevere.

It is not, however, our nurturing environment alone that leads to children achieving their potential. Feedback is recognised as being one of the most significant positive influences on learning outcomes. How we feedback to our children is crucial. Rather than simply praising success, we place equal emphasis on praising effort and persistence.

Since returning to school in September, children in our Year 3 and 4 classes have been learning how their ‘mindset’ can impact on their learning and progress. Simply, a mindset is the attitude an individual chooses to adopt towards new experiences and challenges, heavily influencing ensuing belief surrounding what one is capable of achieving.

The concept of ‘mindset’ has gained increasing attention since Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck introduced it in her 2007 book MindsetThe New Psychology of Success. According to Dweck, people either possess a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence and ability are static, whereas those with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is dynamic.

If children have fixed mindsets they find it hard to cope with failure. To cope with the challenges of a changing world, children need to learn to view mistakes and failure as positive. We believe that it is best to teach our children to seek challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep learning.

‘Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.’ – Barack Obama

Bridget Saul - Headteacher at Wandsworth Prep School

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