Minorca Mount, Denholme, Bradford. West Yorkshire BD13 4AY

01274 832123

Denholme Primary School

Happy Learners High Achievers

Growth Mindset



A focus this year in school has been to develop a ‘Growth Mindset’ with children.  The basic idea is that we support children to learn by teaching them about their brains.  We give them a set of strategies to understand that their abilities are not fixed and by effort, practise and the right input they can achieve success.


Fixed and Growth Mindsets

A lot of the work in school has been developed from the work by Carol Dweck, who is a Stamford professor.  She defines a ‘fixed mindset’ as the idea that your abilities, like your intelligence or your ability to play football are fixed.  A person with a ‘growth mindset’ believes that their abilities can develop.



Fixed Mindset

Growth Mindset

Intelligence is fixed so I must look clever

Intelligence is expandable so I want to learn more

Avoids challenges

Embraces challenges

Gives up easily

Persists in the face of setbacks

Sees effort as pointless

Sees effort as the way forward

Ignores useful feedback

Learns from feedback

Unlikely to achieve potential

Reaches higher levels of achievement


(Adapted from Shirley Clark ‘Growth Mindset Lessons – Every Child A Learner’)


The Brain

We have worked with the children to help them to understand how their brain works and that the brain is able to grow and expand every time that they learn something new and practise. When children make mistakes, this is when the brain grows quickest, showing us that it is ok to make mistakes. Talking about the brain with children and letting them know that they can influence how it grows is powerful!


These are some of the clips about the brain that we used with the children.


This video gives a good explanation of how the brain works for KS2 children




The book ‘Fantastic Elastic Brain’ is great for younger children. This site shows it being read aloud.




Research shows that parents can have a powerful impact on how their children think about their abilities by what we say and how we behave.



Try to praise children for their effort, rather than for their abilities so that they know that they are able to achieve, not because they are born being ‘good at something’, but because they have tried and put in effort. Teachers in school are praising effort and thinking carefully about the words that they choose.


Say This

Not That

I can see you’ve worked hard on this.

You are so clever!

It looks like you need to try something new.

OK, maybe you’re not cut out for this.

I like watching you do that.

You’re a natural

It looks like that was easy for you. Let’s find you something challenging so that your brain can grow.

You did that so quickly and easily, well done

You don’t understand this yet. What can you try to help you to understand it better?

That’s not right! Are you not paying attention? Are you listening?

That was really hard and your effort has paid off. Next time you’ll be ready for this challenge.

That was hard, it’s over now and you don’t have to do it again.

You’ve worked hard to become a good writer, you can try to learn something new that you don’t know yet.

You have a real talent for writing, you should carry on because you are so good at it.


Mistakes and Setbacks

We have been giving the children strategies to support them when they make mistakes or have setbacks.  We have talked about ‘the power of yet’ and how this word can help you to persevere.


Here are some videos that we have looked at in assembly:


This is a great cartoon video about a cyclist who has ‘grit’ to help him to succeed.




This video uses Sesame Street to demonstrate ‘The Power of Yet’.





We have also worked with the children to help them to rethink some of their ideas when they are finding things tricky.


Here is how we can reframe things.


I’m not good at this………………………I can’t do this yet

I give up………………….……………….I’ll use some of the strategies I’ve learnt

It’s good enough…………………….…..Is this my best work yet?

I’ve made a mistake.......................…...This is my first attempt learning

This is too hard………………………….If something is hard, it means I’m learning!

I’m really good at maths…………..……I understand this because I’ve been practising

I can’t do this……………………...…….This is going to take time and effort to master


What’s Next?

As staff we are working on ‘The Learning Line’ with children as a way to think about learning as a journey and we will publish more information here when we have introduced this idea to the children.




Other ideas for parents

Top tips for parents can be found here.