St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School

Spirituality, Aspiration, Innovation, Diversity

How We Learn

Growth Mindsets

A key concept which shapes the ethos of our school is ‘growth mindset’, based on the work of psychologist Carol Dweck. Rather than simply praising success we praise effort and persistence.

The term ‘growth mindset’ refers to a way of thinking and learning. A person with a growth mindset believes their learning can be developed with practice and effort. Those with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence cannot be improved.

Pupils with a growth mindset have a desire to learn. They believe that intelligence can be developed.

These pupils:-

  • Embrace challenges
  • Keep going when things get difficult
  • See effort as the path to mastery
  • Learn from constructive criticism
  • Learn from and find inspiration from the success of others


Pupils with a fixed mindset have a desire to look smart. They believe intelligence is static.

These pupils:-

  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily
  • See effort as a waste of time
  • Ignore criticism
  • Feel threatened by the success of others


Growth Mindset In Our School

At Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School, we value the importance of having a growth mindset. Through school assemblies, class teaching and school displays, our children have learned ways in which they can develop a growth mindset.

  • Children know how their brains work and that brains are like muscles which if stretched can become stronger.
  • Children know that mistakes are how we learn, and that failure is part of learning. Being in the ‘Learning Pit’ is ok.
  • Children have strategies to help them climb out of the ‘Learning Pit’. They know what to do if they are stuck.
  • Children know the importance of challenge and risk taking. They know that periods of struggle and confusion can help their brains grow.
  • Children know the importance of taking on board feedback to improve their learning.
  • Children know that effort is a key to mastery. They know that being persistent and resilient will help them succeed.


A quote from Carol Dweck:

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

This is important because (1) individuals with a “growth” theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals’ theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as “good job, you’re very smart” are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like “good job, you worked very hard” they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way