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Report reveals schools are failing to build confidence and resilience


A new report from Demos think tank, supported by Big Change, has revealed that children are becoming increasingly less confident in their abilities and their capacity to succeed in life as they progress through schooling.

Polling from Populus for the Mind Over Matter report shows a steady decline in schoolchildren’s self-belief and resilience between the ages of 14 and 18, indicating that the UK’s education system is failing to maintain or cultivate these characteristics in students.

Key findings include:

  • Final-year students are half as likely to be happy in their lives than 14-year-olds, and considerably less likely to think their parents and teacher believe in them.
  • They are also three times as likely to feel their school is only focused on preparing them for exams, rather than to succeed in life more generally.
  • Girls are less likely than boys to feel happy and are more likely to experience feelings of frustration or give up on tasks when they fail.

The report includes research that reveals mindset can be as important a predictor of academic achievement as students’ socio-economic backgrounds. It calls for Government, schools and third-sector organisations to explore targeted interventions to instil growth mindsets in young people inside and outside of school, to encourage the ambition and self-belief necessary for their success in education, work and society.

Children with growth mindsets believe in their ability to learn and improve, equipping them to overcome setbacks or obstacles when they face them. By contrast, those with fixed mindsets conclude that they will never be able to achieve certain things when faced with setbacks. The report argues that developing growth mindsets could help improve education and employment outcomes, as well as being a tool to enhance social mobility.

Concluding that the evidence in favour of growth mindsets is sufficiently strong, the report recommends that the potential impact of different types of interventions should be explored within a UK context – particularly focusing on those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

ASDAN methodology provides practical scaffolding for a growth mindset approach, thanks to its focus on the cycle of plan-do-review, whereby effort is expected in the plan and recognised in the review. Our new Coaching for Mathematical Resilience workshops have been developed, in line with growth mindset principles, to tackle resilience in relation to Maths and we will continue to offer interventions such as this in response to the issues raised in the Demos research and feedback from our centres.

For further information about the Demos Mind Over Matter Report, please visit: