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The Priory C of E Primary School


Growth Mindset

The term ‘Growth Mindset’ refers to an understanding that intelligence can be developed. It allows for a focus on improvement, as opposed to labelling people e.g. “clever” or “no good at this”. At The Priory we encourage everybody to develop their own growth mindset and to have a positive and ‘have-a-go’ attitude to life and learning.

Dr. Carol Dweck’s research demonstrates that people with a growth mindset:

  • Understand that intelligence, knowledge and skills can be developed
  • Are more resilient when faced with challenges in learning
  • Work harder to learn more
  • Are more likely to take risks in learning
  • Learn from their mistakes
  • Have better motivation
  • Gain higher scores in tests

Those who believe that ability is ‘fixed’ have a fixed mindset. They are inclined to believe that you are either clever or not. This means that they are less able to adapt to new challenges; are risk averse as they don’t want to be seen to make mistakes; are less likely to put high levels of effort into learning and are less resilient when faced with difficulty.

The 4Rs (Building Learning Power)

This (BLP) approach was created by Professor Guy Claxton. It is based on the idea that we are all capable of becoming better learners and it is closely linked to Dweck’s work on developing a growth mindset. Building Learning Power applies this idea directly to the work of teachers in the classrooms, to provide a practical framework for fostering lifelong learning in all young people.

This approach encourages and enables our children to:

  • Create a learning culture in which we all strive to become better learners
  • Use clear labels to develop a better understanding of learning processes
  • Approach difficulties in learning without fear of failure
  • Become more confident and ambitious

The 4Rs are allowing us to develop a common language for learning across the school. The language is used in all classrooms, with all children.

The 4Rs: Resilience, Reflectiveness, Relating, Resourcefulness

This shared language helps everyone talk about understanding ‘learning to learn’.

We hope that this understanding will begin to spill over into life outside school, where parents and carers will be able to reinforce the ideas by encouraging the children to use their learning language in their everyday lives.

The idea is that the four dispositions (4Rs) are like a group of ‘learning muscles’. Just as we can build our physical muscles with the right kind of exercise, ‘learning muscles’ can also be developed and can grow in strength and stamina. It is these we are developing in our children.

Instead of teaching by the maxims of ‘learning styles’, a growing body of research suggests that adopting ‘learning to learn’ strategies helps students perform better and realise their learning potential. Rather than delivering content tailored to specific learning styles, students are instead encouraged to think about learning more explicitly.

Our students will be exploring the skills of ‘learning power’ through the ‘4Rs’, described by the cognitive scientist Professor Guy Claxton. As part of their study skills programme in the coming weeks the students will look at: Resilience (the way you deal with yourself); Resourcefulness (the ways you think), Relating (the way you deal with others) and Reflection (the way you improve as a learner).

Several different elements work together to form each of the 4Rs, from perseverance and self-belief within Resilience, reasoning and memory in Resourcefulness, to listening and collaboration in Relating and planning and reviewing in Reflection – all highlighting habits of mind and learning skills.

Students will be asked to adopt a different method of learning for each of their subjects, including teaching someone else in maths, using diagrams and pictures in science and using mind-maps in history. They will then be asked to assess how effective this method was in helping them learn, so that they can begin to understand how they learn, and develop strategies to adopt so that they can improve their learning for the future. Students use a variety of different methods to learn on a daily basis, and it is important for us to encourage them to use as many of the methods they have at their disposal.

The 4Rs are based on the concepts of meta-cognition i.e. teaching students strategies to set goals in order to monitor and evaluate their own learning, and self-regulation i.e. managing one’s own motivation towards learning, all of which help our students to understand their individual learning strengths and weaknesses, and provide them with strategies to utilise during their learning processes. Such strategies help students take responsibility for their learning and increase their understanding of what it takes to be successful.

By utilising the ideas promoted by the 4Rs, and revisiting the ideas throughout the school, pupils will learn to become motivated, happy learners who are equipped with the tools and strategies to stick with their learning when it gets tough, developing their confidence to ask questions and talk things through. In getting our pupils thinking about learning now, we are helping to develop invaluable skills for their future learning experiences at school, university and ultimately, in the workplace.