Growing Learners is a group of education research psychologists, passionate about supporting schools and parents to improve their children's expectations and attainment.

We use evidence-based practice to support them to become resilient, confident and effective learners – and everything we offer is underpinned by psychology and education theory, and applied research showing what works.

A common belief is that people with high ability or self-belief in that ability are likely to embrace the challenges that they tackle in life with high levels of resilience, determination and success. However, it is not ability or belief in that ability that predict resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge and failure (see Dweck, 1999); rather it is the individual's belief about the nature of ability (referred to as Self Theory of Intelligence, also known as Mindset).

A Fixed Mindset is the belief that ability is something that you can't change very much, you are born with it. With this belief failure is harder to recover from. To recover from failure those with a Fixed Mindset compare themselves to others that are worse than themselves or devalue the ability/subject ("I'll never need maths outside of school") to repair their self-esteem.

They also avoid these types of tasks in the future, including misbehaving in order to avoid trying and failing; what we refer to as a self-protection strategy. On the other hand if a learner has a Growth Mindset they believe that ability is developable and therefore they bounce back from failure, adopting functional coping strategies like trying again, trying harder or trying a different way in order to succeed. The great news is that Growth Mindsets can be developed.

Interventions related to Mindset have been rolled out widely in the USA.

Many years of research has shown that:

  • Children with a Growth Mindset do better at school
  • Those with a Fixed Mindset will adopt self-protection strategies including avoiding difficult tasks and misbehaving
  • Children can be taught a Growth Mindset
  • The way in which we give feedback and praise influences Mindset
  • These impacts on attainment occur as positive upward spirals via enhanced resilience to challenging tasks
  • Different Mindsets in childhood persist into adulthood and have an impact beyond educational attainment
  • Teaching a Growth Mindset raises pupils’ motivation and achievement
  • Mindset interventions are particularly useful in subjects that a pupil finds hard, with groups that have been subject to lower expectations previously and in preparedness for educational transitions

Latest news

Our fourth mindset story book: "The tale of Lucy Bell who wanted to learn to read and spell" is now available on Amazon and Createspace!

Our fifth mindset story book: "Joseph's Play" is now available on Amazon and Createspace!

We have a Twitter account, follow us at @GLearnersUoP

What we offer

Mindset intervention packages

We have developed and tested interventions underpinned by Dweck's theoretical ideas. As a result of what we have learned via delivery across Europe we now offer several packages. Please contact us if you wish to book.

Mindset intervention packages delivered at schools:

This package is suitable for educational and training institutions (e.g. nurseries, schools, colleges and Higher Education), as well as community groups. It costs £1,800 per institution (plus travel and accommodation costs for two trainers, if you are located more than 20 miles outside of Portsmouth).

This service includes our mindsets intervention materials and a day of training in mindsets for all your staff, which include:

  • an introduction to mindsets
  • lesson plans for the 6 week intervention for use with the children that you are working with
  • a memory-stick containing ready to use/print materials (poster displays, learning materials) and a PowerPoint presentation for other stakeholders

We also provide you with a free Assessment Package for up to 300 pupils before and after your mindset intervention and 12 months access to our advice and support service.

This package is suitable for educational and training institutions (e.g. nurseries, schools, colleges and Higher Education) and costs £1,000 per institution (plus travel and accommodation costs for two trainers). In order to qualify for the consortium package, at least three institutions need to buy this package.

Receiving the mindset intervention package as a consortium is a cost effective way to buy our mindset intervention, because we come to train you altogether. The package includes our mindset intervention programme manual, lesson plans and materials (one set for each institution), as well as a training day hosted at one of the consortium institutions. We can train up to 150 staff on the same day. The materials and training include:

  • an introduction to mindsets
  • lesson plans for the 6 week intervention for use with the children that you are working with
  • a memory-stick containing ready to use/print materials (poster displays, learning materials) and a PowerPoint presentation for other stakeholders

We provide you with a 12 months access to our advice and support service.

This workshop is suitable for teachers who are new to the profession. As with all our workshops, we aim to encourage reflection and discussion in an interactive and motivating way. It would be ideal for teaching alliances who have a number of NQTs and RQTs who could all come together for a half day training session designed to promote resilience and longevity in the teaching profession. It will cost £150 per teacher.

The training will:

  • introduce mindset (theory and evidence of impact)
  • provide practical tips for developing a growth mindset in the classroom
  • offer suggestions for building personal resilience

This service is £1,000 per school, plus travel and accommodation costs for two trainers.

If you have already bought our mindset intervention package from us via the above route or another project and you would like us to come to you to train your whole school in mindsets we can send two of our trainers to you. The training, which takes half a day and will consist of:

  • introducing mindsets theory
  • exploring the existing evidence around mindset
  • help you to consider how to become a growth school in terms of everyday classroom practice and a whole school approach

Mindset intervention packages delivered at the University of Portsmouth:

Contact us to find out when our next mindset intervention Champion Day is.

This service is suitable for educational and training institutions, as well as for community projects. This service costs £500 per person.

This service includes our mindsets intervention materials (for use across your school/college or community) and a day of training in mindsets for the members of staff attending which include:

  • an introduction to mindsets
  • lesson plans for the 6 week intervention for use with the children that you are working with
  • a memory-stick containing ready to use/print materials (poster displays, learning materials) and a PowerPoint presentation for other stakeholders

Contact us to find out when our next training date is.

This workshop is suitable for parents, teachers and community leaders. It will cost £150 per attendee.

This three hour workshop, hosted here at the University of Portsmouth, is an engaging and interactive way to:

  • learn about mindset (theory and evidence of impact)
  • help you to consider how to develop a growth mindset culture in your community, home or school/college
  • get useful tips on developing growth mindsets in children and young adults

Other options

This package is suitable for educational and training institutions (e.g. schools, colleges and higher education), as well as community groups. We can assess mindsets and resilience where children are at least 8 years old. It costs £200 for up to 100 children, £400 for up to 300 children, and £600 for up to 600 children.

We can send you our Resilient Learner Questionnaire's Learning tool to measure whether your pupils' are helpless (related to fixed mindsets) or mastery (related to growth mindsets). All you have to do is administer the questionnaires and send them to us, we do the rest: inputting and analysing the data, interpreting it and providing you with a report with recommendations. The assessment package is also useful if you want to measure the change in learning from before and after an intervention.

Should you wish to access online materials for your school or college, Growing Learners recommend Positive Edge Education. Having advised them on their materials and worked with them on a funded project, their materials are underpinned by appropriate theory and research in the field and are incredibly professional and engaging.

Story books about mindsets

We have created original books for a range of ages, communicating the mindset message in beautifully illustrated stories. Have a look at our latest addition.

Story books

Mystery of Mrs. Raven by Growing Learners Team and Florence Whelon, illustrations by Richard Heathcote.

This book aims to promote growth mindsets by highlighting the importance of tackling challenges, learning from mistakes, persistence and resilience in the face of difficulties.

  • Story: Jo has started at a new school, leaving her old school behind with all its familiarity and comfort. She's faced with the challenge of making new friends and meeting her new teacher, Mrs Raven. But there's something mysterious about this school; pupils seemed to be scared of learning and Jo can't work out why. Follow Jo's journey of discovery as she starts finding out more about her spooky new school.
  • Audience: It's a great story for parents to read to younger children or for independent readers aged 8 - 11 years. At the end of the book, you will find some questions for discussion to interact with your children, as well as mindset learning points.

Available on Amazon and Createspace

Arthur the Wizard by Growing Learners Team and Bryony Noble, illustrations by Anastasia Vandycheva

This book aims to promote growth mindsets by highlighting the importance of tackling challenges, learning from mistakes, persistence and resilience in the face of difficulties.

  • Story: Arthur is a young wizard who is desperate to learn how to do spells. Thanks to his best friend Annie, the tiny Lilly and the funny Whizz Band, he will take on an exciting journey to learn how to finally persist in the face of challenges, mistakes and practice… and create a magnificent tool to help him become a resilient learner. Beware, this book includes wrong notes, burning cakes and muddy colours!
  • Audience: It's a great story for parents to read to younger children or for independent readers aged 6-10 years. At the end of the book, you will find some questions for discussion to interact with your children, as well as mindset learning points.

Available on Amazon and Createspace

The Art Competition by Growing Learners Team and Florence Whelon, illustrations by Anastasia Vandycheva

This book aims to promote growth mindsets by highlighting the importance of tackling challenges, learning from mistakes, persistence and resilience in the face of difficulties.

  • Story: Hope is a young girl whose goal is to win the art contest organised by her school. Nobody could rival her painting skills, except maybe her twin sister, Faith. She is her best friend and competitor, who is passionate about art and who always seem to do better than Hope. As the results of the competition come closer, Hope gets more anxious and doubts about her abilities. Does she really have what it takes to win the first prize? Find out how Hope overcomes her fears and really enjoy the process of creativity thanks to her friends Jo and Leo.
  • Audience: It's a great story for parents to read to younger children or for independent readers aged 8 - 11 years. At the end of the book you will find some questions to discuss with your children and some Mindset learning points.

Available on Amazon and Createspace

The tale of Lucy Bell who wanted to learn to read and spell by Growing Learners Team and Victoria Devonshire, illustrations by Richard Heathcote

This book aims to promote growth mindsets by highlighting the importance of tackling challenges, learning from mistakes, persistence and resilience in the face of difficulties.

  • Story: Lucy struggles to learn how to read and spell at school. She wishes she could be like John, who seems to find learning easy. She describes how sad she feels and that she is frightened of trying for fear of making mistakes. Her kind teacher explains to her about growth mindsets and she begins to realise what the ingredients are for successful learning.
  • Audience: This is a great story for parents and teachers to read to younger children or for independent readers aged 5-9 years. At the end of the book, you will find some questions for discussion with your children, as well as Mindset learning points.

Available on Amazon and Createspace

  • Story: Joseph is an outgoing and popular boy at primary school. However, underneath his confidence, he carries a “shyness bug”: a secret that he does not want to share with anybody. Throughout the story, we see that Joseph can feel very worried about new or unfamiliar situations, particularly the daunting prospect of starting secondary school or performing in the annual school play, in front of all his new teachers.
  • Gathering all his courage, and with the help and encouragement of his teachers, Joseph auditions for the role of Chai the mouse. There is one problem though: Ruby, his competition, a ‘natural’. Ruby, filled with confidence and self-assurance, claims she never makes mistakes and is adamant she’ll get the part. Will Joseph be able to fight his shyness bug and be resilient enough to be able to audition, and even perform in front of everyone?
  • Audience: This is a great story for parents to read to younger children or for independent readers aged 8 - 11 years. At the end of the book you will find some questions to discuss with your children and some Mindset learning points.

Available on Amazon and Createspace

Growing Learners mobile app

We have developed a parents' application for mobile devices to support children's growth mindset development at home. In this App, many activities will help the family to embed the growth mindset approach into their daily lives, to promote challenge and to demonstrate the malleability of intelligence. The Growing Learners App is a direct result of our previous projects implemented within our Growing Learners Team at the University of Portsmouth.

The activities of the App are:

  • What are mindsets: to explain the theory behind growth and fixed mindset.
  • Tips for parents to help build a growth mindset with the children.
  • Journey to Success board game, designed for the whole family to play to get you thinking about the different ways we can deal with challenges and setbacks.
  • George’s Story: Story, questions and points for discussion about George, a dog who goes through various obstacles before becoming a brave learner.
  • A cartoon which demonstrates two different approaches to dealing with challenge with different consequences.
  • Mistakes board: You can use this tool to encourage you and your children to be open about mistakes, think about what you can all learn from mistakes, and what you could do differently next time.
  • The Resilient Learner Questionnaire: Made of 30 items especially for children from 7 to 18, this questionnaire is designed to measure their perceptions of their own learning behaviour. Helped by their parents, they will need to answer those 30 questions by rating how much they agree with each statement. At the end of this activity, they will receive the result, named as 'Your Learning Orientation score', with explanations about the meaning of high and low scores.

Download the Growing Learners App Disclaimer regarding the activity in the Resilient Learner Questionnaire.

The Growing Learners Mobile App will be available soon on Android and iOS platforms.

What is the evidence from our projects in the UK?

We have tested mindset interventions across 250 schools in the UK. Below is information about some of the projects and their findings.

Changing Mindsets Project

We tested two approaches as part of an Education Endowment Foundation funded project: a pupil programme and teacher training.

The pupil programme of workshops was delivered by members of the Growing Learners team. It took only one and a half hours a week for 6 to 10 weeks to deliver. The impact on attainment was an increase of 2 months in every 12. Although this is a meaningful difference and was systematic, in that it was found for both numeracy and literacy attainment for all pupils (FSM and all others) the change is not large enough to be statistically significant. For numeracy there is a 24% probability that the increased attainment is due to chance, rather than the intervention. The literacy improvement was approaching statistical significance, in this case there is only a 7% probability that the increased attainment is due to chance, rather than the intervention. Something is considered statistically significant when there is a 5% or lower probability that change has occurred by chance.

We also trained teachers in two half day INSETs on the evidence and theory behind mindsets and gave them ideas on how they might change their whole school approach and their everyday practice. For this intervention we did not work directly with pupils or provide materials for teachers. The aim was to see what training alone could achieve. This approach changed FSM pupils' mindset positively, but it did not change attainment. This is probably because some of the schools we worked with couldn't take the training further. Schools are busy places and for many reasons (that schools reading this will be familiar with) some of the schools could not fully implement mindset work with pupils, after the training. When we test interventions we have to look at the average result across all the schools involved, rather than picking out only the schools that managed to implement mindset practice. This means that overall we cannot report an effect on attainment for this intervention.

The EEF report indicates that teachers in the project thought that:

EEF Report

  • the INSET was interesting, engaging and relevant to their teaching
  • had an appropriate mix of theory and practical ideas for delivering the approach
  • that it gave them the terminology, and particularly the praise vocabulary
  • teachers felt that the approach was particularly effective in relation to maths teaching where pupils were more likely to believe they lacked ability and to give up (although it should be noted that the best improvement in results were seen in the standardised tests for literacy)
  • it was a worthwhile use of their time.

  • children had readily understood the mindset theory, helped by the clear vocabulary of learning within the project
  • the project had equipped children with the language of learning, enabling them to verbalise and understand their own learning processes
  • the approach was effective with pupils who feel that they are poor learners, that education is not for them and who tend to disengage from learning
  • teachers saw a difference in pupil performance in the classroom, but felt that the approach was most likely to be effective in the longer rather than short term.

  • consistent use is necessary, and that it needs to be part of a whole school approach
  • to have an impact, mindsets would need to be used in the longer term, starting in the early years
  • the approach should be reinforced through regular INSET, cascade learning and shared practice.

What do we do differently now?

It was our learning on this project that led us to offer the packages that we do now. We provide a mindset manual and lesson plans for teachers and parents with exercises and materials for a children so that after our training and guidance teachers and parents can start their mindset work with children without any additional preparation after the training. The materials are an improved version of those that we used in the pupil intervention mentioned above.

Growing Learners' evaluation

During the Changing mindsets project we also collected additional data (not analysed as part of the EEF report) exploring pupils learning orientation (whether they were helpless or mastery in their approach to their work). The results here are very promising indicating that both the teacher and pupil interventions had a positive impact on pupils learning, where they became more resilient learners, embracing challenge and learning from their mistakes.

Closing the gap project

In another intervention where we trained teachers and provided them with the intervention programme, funded by the National College for Teaching and Leadership interim results indicate that attainment also increased by 2 months for FSM eligible pupils. We are now waiting to see what the results are for a FSM pupil focused intervention.

We have now provided mindset interventions for over 250 nursery schools, schools (primary and secondary) and colleges across Europe.

For more information on our latest ongoing research programme take a look at our Changing Mindsets project.

Contact us

Team members

We are in the Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, King Henry Building, King Henry I Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2DY. 

How to contact us

For more details please contact the Growing Learners Team on 023 9284 6315, email growinglearners@port.ac.uk or follow us on twitter @glearnersUoP.

This site uses cookies. Click here to view our cookie policy message.

Accept and close