Exploring the virtues of having a Growth Mindset

CPD Lead and facilitator John Collier explains the virtues of having a Growth Mindset.

I was the first member of my family to go to University. As the young son of a joiner and pottery worker it seemed that any future career might be skilled based rather than qualified. In fact were it not for the Conservatives’ dissolution of the collieries I may have ended up down the pit like so many family members before me. If the name fits! How did I end up breaking the generational chain?

Well first off, supportive parents, secondly encouraging teachers, but thirdly, and most importantly, having a growth mindset.

It’s a term that has been banded about for a while now and over recent years more and more schools have realised the power of promoting and sustaining a growth mindset culture in order to achieve success.


The idea that intelligence is not fixed but can grow and be developed is an important one.

Simply put, the difference is a child believing they “can” rather than they “can’t”. The theory is based on the work of American psychologist Dr Carol S. Dweck and the decades of research carried out at Stanford University. Dweck argues that rather than being “fixed” at a maximum amount, ability can be developed through effort. Dweck published this theory in her book “MINDSET: How you can fulfil your potential”.

In it she explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach our goals with the right mindset. She believes we can use it to motivate children and raise their achievement as well as helping adults reach their own goals – both personal and professional. Growth Mindsets is already used by great teachers, parents, CEO’s and athletes as a simple idea that the brain can foster learning and nurture the resilience that is the basis of accomplishment in every area of life.


Schools that have adapted a Growth Mindsets culture have found their learners become more resilient, enjoy challenges, expect to learn from their mistakes and believe that the harder they try, the more they will learn. Pupils become more reflective and more proficient at refining and improving their work. As learners they are resourceful – set their own challenges, choose their own resources and make decisions about what and how they will learn. They also listen to each other and respond to each other’s idea in order to help everyone learn. One simple way to begin is whenever a pupil mutters the phrase, “I can’t do this…” have your teachers reply, “yet!”

Learners with a Growth Mindset…

Our Growth Mindsets programme allows you to explore the evidence, provides you with the background theory and gives you the tools to promote a whole school approach in your own setting.

  • Believe intelligence can be increased through practice
  • Focus on learning
  • Are not threatened by hard work or failure
  • Seek new challenges for a sense of achievement
  • Perceive mistakes as a good thing that helps the learning processes
  • View effort and persistence as a necessary part of success

Find out more about our Growth Mindset training here.

written by John Collier

Deputy Director for CPD


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