Learning to look on the bright side

1st February 2013 at 00:00

The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has stated his concern that more than 23 per cent of A-level students are studying in schools where no pupils achieved the Russell Group requirements of two As and a B. Sir Michael promises a "landmark report" and says that some of the brightest secondary school pupils are being let down by teachers.

Of course, this is of concern, especially as the percentage of state secondary schools achieving the Russell Group target grades is so far below the performance of independent school students. But do we need to "push pupils harder"?

Excellence in Southwark's work in schools indicates clearly that a key factor in educational success is the tendency to optimism or pessimism of both teacher and student. Pessimists teach, and learn, less effectively than optimists. And this matters because research shows clearly that both are learned behaviours. We can teach optimism quite simply and help to transform those relatively poor results. This training should apply not just to our most able pupils, but to all.

Nick Wilkins, Senior consultant, Excellence in Southwark.

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