Teaching resilience gets results at Hetton School
It has been an exciting year in the life of Hetton School. With the move to a new school building in September 2016, a change in leadership in February 2017 and the launch of their new Girls Football Academy, there has been a huge positive shift in the direction of the school. However it has been the school’s ground-breaking ‘Learn to Achieve’ strategy that has made the biggest difference to its students. This strategy, that is a bespoke version of leading academic, Carol Dweck’s ‘Growth Mindset’ approach, is teaching resilience to students – and what a difference it has made!
The school’s 2017 GCSE results have taken a leap from previous years (for example an 8% rise in the number of students achieving a good grade in both English and Maths) with some students achieving spectacular results. Acting Headteacher, Craig Knowles explains:
“Over the past year we have recognised that a new approach was required. The school had everything in place for student success: an amazing new building; highly trained and skilled staff; a truly personalised curriculum and committed leadership. Yet despite being recognised as a good school by Ofsted we felt that overall results for students had previously been disappointing. We made a decision to change the mindset of our students. We now teach them how to be resilient, how to seek feedback and learn from it, how to learn from the success of others, and how to embrace challenge. When combined we call this our ‘Learn to Achieve’ strategy – and it has had a huge impact on students throughout the school and also on staff. Hetton School is a hugely rewarding and positive place to work and this strategy is a big factor in that success.”
Of course not all of the success of this year’s leavers can be attributed to the ‘Learn to Achieve’ strategy. Chair of governors, Margaret Young also outlines other important elements:
“The commitment, determination and drive of the students will always be the crucial factor. We are immensely proud of what they have achieved, and of the efforts of our outstanding staff. The new school building has removed one of the barriers to the school’s success, but it is the skills and resilience of the leadership, staff and students that make the difference.”
Just one of the success stories of this year’s results has been 16 year old, Dominic Kendle. A student of huge potential who has benefitted significantly from feedback that has helped him persist in the face of setbacks. However, to his huge credit Dominic fully embraced the new ‘Learn to Achieve’ strategy, becoming even more positive, determined, ambitious and resilient in the process. Dominic’s results of 9 ‘good’ passes now means that he can move on to Sunderland College to study Sports Science in September. After receiving his results Dominic said:
“There have been a number of ups and downs throughout my time at Hetton School and I haven’t always been on track to achieve the best results. However, I have always felt supported and encouraged. Next year I will be studying Sports Science at Bede College with the aim of being a PE teacher in the future. I’ve made some fantastic friends and had some amazing memories throughout my time at school and things like the New York visit will be a lifelong memory. Thank you.”
Another success has been that of Niamh Dawson. Niamh achieved 11 ‘good’ GCSE passes including ‘A*’ grades in French, History, Physics and Humanities; ‘A’ grades in Biology, Chemistry and ICT; and the much coveted ‘9’ grade in English Language and English Literature. Niamh is planning to study A Levels in English, Psychology and Biology and is interested in pursuing a career in the medical profession.
“Reach for the stars and if you fall short you land on the clouds”.
Niamh highlighted that she has faced struggles in subjects such as Mathematics as it didn’t come easy to her. However, she attributed her success to hard work, not giving up and a determination to be better. This matches the ‘Learn to Achieve’ philosophy which runs right through Hetton School.
More details on the results and the background to the strategies behind them is available here.