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Primary School

Pursue Possibilities

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Growth Mindset and Our 4R’s

Over the past two decades, Professor Carol Dweck at Stanford University has been researching  what lies behind motivation and achievement in individuals, particularly children.  She has discovered that developing a growth mindset (the core belief that abilities are malleable and not fixed) is critical to adopting learning-oriented behaviour.  This has a significant impact on students and learning.

At Robert Arkenstall, we encourage all our children to recognise their Growth and Fixed Mindset moments in order to create an understanding of and motivation to learn. Children's beliefs about themselves in relation to learning are a crucial factor in their progress. In using and talking about the Mindset ideas in school, we encourage all our children to become curious, resilient and independent learners who are open to new challenges.

Our school is a Growth Mindset school!

We try hard to be open to learning new things and noticing what's around us.

We know that it is always possible to get better and more confident at things if you work hard, put in effort and reflect on mistakes and what you can do to improve.

We try to think about HOW we are learning so we can use these strategies in the future.

We don't minding making mistakes because we know that they can help us to learn new things. As long as we reflect on them, mistakes are our friends!

Getting feedback from teachers, adults and our class mates is really important in our learning so we know how to improve.

If we find learning hard, we try not to say, 'I can't do this'. Instead we say, 'I can't do this, YET!'

We make sure we challenge ourselves regularly because it's not good to stick at what you know all the time.  You would never learn anything new!

How do our 4R's help us build our Growth Mindset?

Guy Claxton's work  identified 4 key dispositions for learning which help children appreciate that learning, its successes and apparent failures, its positive and negative feelings are all OK. That by knowing about and noticing their learning skills they can be reassured that the experience is normal and everyone has different strengths and challenges.

Children learn that some ways to learn are easier and they can rely on them, but other ways to learn they may find challenging and have to think about more.  In Celebration Assembly we award Headteacher’s certificates to children who have successfully shown their Growth Mindset learning skills through the week.

We have identified 4 key skills or dispositions which as a staff we know the children experience and deal with every day.

RESILIENCE: The emotional aspects of learning.

‘I have learnt that there are 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb’

Thomas Edison

Mistakes are often where profound and real learning take place. It can be frustrating but understanding that helps me carry on when I want to give up.

Resilient Spider
Resilient Spider

We use the example of the Spider who rebuilds its web each day to model resilience and children can regularly say when they have kept trying because they are being resilient. Around the school and in communications the spider reminds children to persevere, enjoy being absorbed in their learning, notice details and learn to manage distractions.


RESOURCEFUL: The cognitive aspects of learning.

I  have no special talents, I am only passionately curious’Albert Enstein

Resourceful learners draw information from many sources including imagination to come up with connections, scenarios, new versions of existing ideas ‘what if’s to explore the possibilities of their world. Everything is worth trying. New ideas spring from old seeds.


Resourceful Squirrel

We use the Squirrel with their endless initiative and creativity to bring this idea to life for children. For some children it is second nature, for others it is risky, for all children it is worth it.




REFLECTIVENESS: The strategic aspects of Learning.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself’ Dewey

Reflective Owl

If you are a reflective learner, you plan, you revise and are flexible about change. You look at the essential parts of learning and take these ideas to new learning, you learn to know your own strengths and challenges as a learner and accommodate them.

We use the wise Owl as an image to help children understand how they think about learning and about themselves as a learner.

RECIPROCAL: The Social Aspects of Learning.

No man is an island, entire of itself..’ John Donne

We are all part of a community. We each have valuable ideas. When we share them we learn more. Everyone has a right to be heard and sometimes our ideas lead projects. Sometimes we are part of the team and follow or imitate other’s ideas to find out what they can teach us. We listen with respect to others and can choose when we agree or when we stand our ground with our own opinion but we always know that other people’s views should be considered.

We use the Bee to think about being reciprocal. Bees each have their job to do but all work towards shared goals. We know that we are more successful when everyone helps each other to consider ideas.

Reciprocal Bee