Month: February 2015

Exploring Growth Mindset – CASSA R&D Conference and Teachmeet, February 2015


How do we help pupils to develop the confidence, resilience, determination and belief that they can make progress?  Carol Dweck’s theory of Growth Mindset ( might provide an answer to this perennial question, and many schools are exploring, experimenting with and sometimes adopting wholesale her approaches.

Thursday 12th February saw colleagues from across Cambridgeshire and Suffolk primary and secondary schools gather at Sawston Village College ( for the CASSA ( R&D Teachmeet and Conference on the topic of Growth Mindset.  The title of the event was “Exploring Growth Mindset”, providing an opportunity for colleagues to learn more about the theory and its potential implications for schools, teachers and pupils.    (more…)


Moneyball for schools: can we use data like the Oakland A’s?

One argument for how to make constructive use of meaningful data…

Improving Teaching

The Oakland A’s were a fairly successful baseball team facing a problem: a budget half that of their top rivals.  In Moneyball, Michael Lewis explained their response: exploiting market inefficiencies which left great baseball players undervalued.  Other analysts used statistics reflecting dramatic but unimportant aspects of the game; baseball scouts focused more on players’ looks than their abilities.  Smart buying allowed the A’s to recruit fantastic players who had gone unrecognised by richer teams.  The A’s achieved impressive winning streaks against far richer sides: well used, knowledge – data and statistics – is power.


In my career so far I’ve moved from outright suspicion of ‘data’ to a recognition of its usefulness – under certain circumstances, interpreted carefully.  Moneyball reminded me of the limitations of relying on instinct, experience and conventional wisdom; one passage discussing Bill James, the first person to collect baseball statistics identifying effective players, led me to rethink the role of data in…

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Growth mindset: What interventions might work and what probably won’t?

Turnford School blog on growth mindset – what might work and might probably won’t. @turnfordblog

Evidence into Practice

Whether discussed under the guise of ‘resilience’, ‘grit’ or ‘character’, there appears to be a great appetite for psychologically manipulating pupils’ personalities or their attributions about school. One concept which has particularly captured the imagination of teachers and school leaders is ‘growth mindset’: the idea that children who possess incremental theories of intellect (a growth mindset) appear to achieve better grades than those who possess an entity theory of intellect (a fixed mindset).

The claim that there are attributional differences between pupils which can affect their experience of school and their academic outcomes is well supported. You can read a bit more about some of the psychology behind the idea of a ‘growth mindset’ here: Growth Mindset: It’s not magic

However, accepting that these key attributional variables exist still leaves at least two important questions that school leaders and teachers should be asking before seeking to implement ‘growth mindset’ interventions…

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Presentation of Learning Night: Parents’ Evening with a Twist

A radical alternative to conventional parents’ evenings. Does this complement growth mindset philosophies and approaches to independent learning?…


After reading Ron Berger’s ‘Ethic of Excellence’ and watching the mightily impressive High Tech High clip with their CEO, Larry Rosenstock, speaking about his philosophy of education, there seemed to be one common thread that linked both men’s view on education:

The power of publicly exhibiting and critiquing student work so their peers, teachers, local experts and parents can examine the work and offer specific and helpful feedback. Specifically, the positive affect this public exhibition can have on student commitment and motivation to produce high quality work consistently.

A worthwhile link here is to Jamie Portman’s blog posts that summarise his visit to High Tech High in San Diego, California. Essentially, every single part of the school is one giant exhibition of student work and peer feedback (the corkboard and sticky note idea is just one simple, yet exceptional feedback strategy) with the students responsible for designing and creating their…

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Student observations!

A possible model of lesson observation by pupils…

Whole Education Blog

At our school the Learning Leaders (the student voice group we all attend) do observations of teachers (with their permission of course!). However we decided to design our own observation grid, this includes all the things we think make a great lesson. The ideas are a mix of those we thought of on our own and the school observation grid. We changed the wording however so it made sense to us. We like the grid because it is our way of showing teachers what matters to us.


The Student Leaders at Shenley Brook End School @SBElearninglead #Studentsreport

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