Dreaming spires and extreme reactions

15th July 2011 at 01:00

Gerard Kelly writes in his editorial that "the most intractable problem is a limitation of mind" ("The odds are stacked against poor, bright kids. But poverty of ambition lurks where it shouldn't", 8 July). Dead right.

In 2005 my school introduced the Pupil Attitude to Self and School (PASS) survey. We found our students suffered from exceptionally low levels of self-esteem, self-confidence and "readiness to learn". We addressed this by introducing Learning for Life to the school, a paradigm that has subsequently worked in 30 other schools since 2005. It meant addressing these issues in a course that began in Year 7 and ran across the whole school.

A couple of years later our Neet (not in education, employment or training) numbers fell and students completing post-16 provision rose by 25 per cent. Learners began to realise they could succeed.

Other schools using Learning for Life reflect the same outcomes. If education is only about performance in league tables, students' minds become limited by that goal. Where commitment exists to challenge and support the broader mindsets of our learners, not only do they succeed in exams, but they also succeed in life.

Phil Parker, Education consultant, Student Coaching.

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