2011 Age 9-11: Y5/6 (4/5 Grade US) Feedback from Day 2


One teacher had used the DVD clip idea (see Shirley’s website for DVD of teachers in the learning teams in action) of giving them 5 celebrities to place in order of cleverness. This was a brilliant session with children gradually deciding that there were many ways you could define cleverness. Two aliens were devised to represent the mindsets (Zoogle and Zork) which has given the children a way to identify with the mindsets.

Another teacher had used a You Tube clip of a taxi driver growing his brain (London taxi drivers’ brains). Children were helping each other to develop a growth mindset. Looking at how the brain works had helped children see the potential for brain growth. There was some concern that higher achievers might need to develop their thinking more as the fixed mindset is so embedded in those children.

It was felt that children had higher self-esteem, they felt more empowered and assessment was easier.

Ellesmere Port

One teacher gave an assembly about the growth mindset which raised pupil interest, but the school organisation meant that large scale input was difficult.

Another teacher asked the class to order 5 famous people in order of cleverness, which had been very successful in helping children see that all people have skills. This activity helped increase the status of lower achievers in the class.

One teacher helped 2 children create a role play scenario where one child had a fixed mindset and threw a tantrum over hard work while the other kept talking through the problem. Watching this had really helped the class identify with their own fixed mindsets at times.

One school had ‘Brian the Brain’ a fake brain to remind children about brain growth. One child, panicking about a SAT test, put the brain beside him and clamed down and continued the test. There is now less fear of failure.

One teacher had introduced a Lion (brave) and Hippo (can’t be bothered) to represent the mindsets. Some Year 6 boys wanted to take the lion to an after school football match to help them win! (They didn’t!)

‘I can starters for learning objectives had been changed across one school to ‘I am learning to…’ This had had a visible impact on children – enabling them to see that learning is incremental and a never ending process rather than fixed can do or can’t do bites.

One teacher was no longer differentiating maths groups but instead offering choice of a 3 level challenge. Lower achievers were surprising teachers, often choosing harder challenges than would have been given to them and being successful.

Brighton and Hove

Children had been shown a video of the brain and now had more awareness of having control over their brains. Questionnaires and practical scenarios had been given which has led to children seeing that challenge is positive. One teacher had colour coded the descriptions of the mindsets. They have become more honest about where they feel they are and they can see that they don’t have to stay with a fixed mindset.

There is more awareness now of different ways of learning. One teacher encourages the children to look for how others are showing they have a growth mindset. They find it easier to praise others than themselves.


Teachers talked to children about growing your brain and the mindsets. Children help each other by referring to this and to drive them on when faced with a challenge.

Teachers are also praising the learning rather than the work itself so that they are now more positive about the potential of each child and children are better motivated. Work assemblies are not always in sync with this approach (need for whole school approach).

In one school the merit system was changed.  Others had tried but found it difficult to win over all staff. Children had not missed the old system in those classes who trialled this. There was a problem about how to help teachers let go of external rewards. One Senior Leadership Team completely agreed with the principle but when it came to the crunch could not let go of the rewards…

One school had a character called ‘Captain Teamwork’ who helped children to focus and they refer to him with his learning skills

Brighton & Hove

Suzanne Morgan | suzanne.morgan@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Anne Vickers | aevickers@yahoo.co.uk


Paul Wilson | paul.wilson@hertscc.gov.uk


Amy Parry | amy.parry@rotherham.gov.uk