Mindset Teams in the Scottish education system. Scotland

Evaluation in progress. Expected completion date April 2023

What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

Winning Scotland: ‘The PHIRST research to evaluate the longitudinal impact of Mindset Teams is extremely valuable to Winning Scotland and our partners. We know mindset helps pupils develop confidence, resilience and persistence in the short term. But understanding how much those mindset principles are staying with pupils after 12 or 18 months tells us so much. If the outcomes are positive, it gives us strong evidence to engage other schools to use mindset. If they are less positive, we will still learn loads about what needs to be done to reach our ultimate goalan embedded growth mindset culture in Scottish education.’ 

What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?

Head Teacher of the Public Involvement School: ‘Every school should take the opportunity to be involved in reviewing research studies as it gives you the opportunity to influence what and how questions are being asked. Many of these questions are the ones you really want to know the answer to.  The experience gives the school a true feeling of being part of a learning community and  how important research is, particularly when you are planning to implement future plans  or initiatives .’ 

How are the public involved in the evaluation?

The research team have involved the public in the project in two main ways. First, we have recruited a parent onto the Study Advisory Group who shares group responsibility for the overall coordination and decisions made about the running of the project. Second, we have recruited a Scottish primary school that has taken part in the Mindset Teams programme as our Public Involvement (PI) school. To date, sessions with the PI school have focused on refining our study methods and materials, including: one with staff members, a parent session and two sessions with a small group of children. For each session, groups were asked to comment on our intended recruitment processes and materials, and to refine our research instruments including the questions asked in surveys, interviews and focus groups. As part of the children’s session, children produced pictures showing what a growth mindset means to them, which have since been incorporated into the Children’s Information Leaflets for the study.

Lay summary of research

Background: More than a quarter of Scotland’s children are living in poverty, a figure that is set to rise substantially without major policy change. Social standing is a strong predictor of a young person’s academic achievement with those from poorer backgrounds typically experiencing limited academic achievement. One area to tackle poverty is through children’s engagement with learning as this can positively improve health and wellbeing.

A research idea suggests that individuals have different beliefs about the underlying nature of ability. For example, some people believe that our attributes (e.g. the ability to learn) are stable, this is known as a Fixed Mindset. Other individuals believe that our attributes are adaptable, known as a Growth Mindset. Mindsets are said to be particularly important during the ages 10-19 years and a small number of studies have shown positive impacts with growth mindset improving resilience, mental well-being and school engagement. Some studies have reported more noticeable impacts of growth mindset strategies for pupils from a lower socio-economic background.

Since 2018, a charity, Winning Scotland, have delivered a programme ‘Mindset Teams’ within primary schools located in the most deprived areas of Scotland. The programme aims to support the development of a growth mindset culture in Scottish schools in order to improve learning resilience for health and education outcomes. This involves delivering training to a group of teachers within each school so they may develop, deliver and support mindset learning throughout the curriculum.

Aims: The study aims to understand the impact of Mindset Teams on a) children’s health and education and b) on teacher’s beliefs of Growth mindset practice and health and wellbeing. We also aim to explore how the programme is delivered within and across schools.

Methods: We will invite 15 stakeholders across Scotland to take part in an interview, including programme providers, local authority leads, secondary school representatives and policy makers. We will recruit 8 schools who have taken part in the programme between 2018-2020 (Established schools) and 5 further schools who have started the programme since 2020 (Enrolling schools). In all schools, we will invite the Head teacher and up to three members of staff involved in the programme. At each established school, we will also invite 4-6 children to participate in a group discussion. We will invite all teachers trained on the programme to complete an online survey and parents of children attending a recruited established school. Throughout interviews and surveys, we aim to explore experiences and perceptions of the programme and gather insights into perceived impacts across different stakeholder populations. We will also examine data collected by the Scottish Government and Winning Scotland since 2017 to look at the impacts of the programme on pupil attendance rates and academic performance over the years. Datasets that could help explore impacts of the programme on children’s mental health and wellbeing will be identified for future research.

The study research questions and design have been developed in collaboration with key stakeholders from the outset.


PHIRST Insight

Research team

Dr Kelly Morgan (PI), Professor Simon Murphy, Professor Frank de Vocht, Hayley Reed  

Contact: morgank22@cardiff.ac.uk

Local Authority/Partner(s)

Winning Scotland, https://www.winningscotland.org/