There is a virtuous spiral of improvement that schools can develop. It is not a quick thing, it takes years and must start when pupils first enter the school. It is in essence development of a growth mindset, which too often is characterised as simply telling children about plasticity of the brain, whereas in reality it means developng deeply held convictions which are as much felt as consciously realised.
Schools can build this culture by consistently using language that guides pupils to:
- see failures as steps on the route to success and hence are happy to put their work in front of audiences and receive criticism
- believe their brain can be improved in the same way that their body can become fitter through exercise
- can clearly see and take pride in their progress
- and hence are happy to share data on their achievements, even if these are low relative to other pupils.
Even the smallest language interactions with pupils matter, for example making “can’t do it” become “can’t do it yet”.