Meols Cop Mind Set Stars

Meols Cop Mind Set Stars-is growth mind set making a difference to learning and teaching?

On our Xmas bulletin,

students and parents were given the following message:


Our Progress Stars have become a huge success since we introduced those 3 years ago. Over 800 have been sent home and appeared on the bulletin since this term began in September! They have become part of the fabric of our building and it’s wonderful to see so many names on the posters around school and to receive so many positive comments from home in praise of our initiative-thank you to everybody who has contributed to their success.

In January, the focus will change slightly with teachers and support staff being asked to look out for the attributes we associate with being a really good Meols Cop learner. Students need to be aware of these and remind their teachers if they think they have fulfilled one of the criteria and deserve recognition.

These are the MCMS Star attributes we will be rewarding;

  • Students who have achieved above their targets.
  • Students who have deliberately taken on a demanding challenge.
  • Students who have accepted honest, critical feedback and improved their learning.
  • Students who have re-drafted work to make it ‘excellent’.
  • Student who have responded to feedback with a specific plan and successfully achieved what was suggested.
  • Students who have given really effective peer critique with clear explanations about how to improve.
  • When the going gets tough; students who get going!
  • Students who always try to persevere with a difficult question or concept without, asking for help after 10 seconds! [0B4ME!]
  • Students who have gone out of their way to help others and who enjoy others achieving success.
  • Students who may have been feeling low and who have gradually, with patient support, begun to feel more positive.
  • Students who have tried their best when faced with a significant learning barrier and want to overcome it by chipping away with marginal gains.
  • Students who have self-analysed their own performance, decided it wasn’t good enough and improved through their own hard work.
  • Students who turn up to classes and are always positive and respond to ‘yet!’-there are lots of them.
  • Students who have asked for extra work and advice or attended extra lessons.
  • Students who always produce home-learning to the best of their ability because they know that practice at home helps them improve.
  • Students who always turn up for practices and rehearsals because they want to improve and seek excellence in everything they do.

Any more you can think of!

Developing a growth mind-set to help our students acquire attributes which we believe will support their learning at MCHS and beyond, has been a key aspect of our blogs this school year. The initiative has been drip-fed since September, although many aspects are as old as our school, and I’ve shared our ‘propaganda’ posters, early classroom examples and philosophy of staff GM in these posts.

The problem with initiatives, apart from having too many at once, is that often some of the wonderful ideas I spot on blogs and in educational literature are only followed by the person themselves or just a few colleagues. For whatever reason their great idea hasn’t been successfully ‘sold’ to others and hasn’t become part of the whole school ethos/accepted good practice. Without relentless pushing and monitoring, many ideas fizzle out and colleagues always gleefully recall failed initiatives-even within faculties or year teams! To be successful, an initiative has usually to be something that all at school value and can see the worth in, [they may have devised it themselves e.g. learning and teaching policy] it is clearly understood by students, parents and staff and is accessible to all. There are times when initiatives have to happen that may not be universally popular but school leaders feel are for the benefit of the school/students-a test of leadership skills but if leaders have built up the trust of colleagues, hopefully they will go with you in the belief that you haven’t messed up with too many other ill-conceived initiatives and ideas! Sometimes I dip my toes in and see how the tide is flowing e.g. Solo taxonomy, which I quite like and introduced 3 years ago on September inset-a couple of colleagues loved it, for others it was an initiative too far and at that point I prioritised marking and feedback as being a more appropriate focus-doesn’t mean I won’t return to it! For others such as Behaviour for Learning, the 6Cs, non-grading of lessons, lesson study and marking/feedback-I genuinely believed that they had to happen to move learning and teaching here upwards and onwards. I will try to persuade, explain, justify and will actively seek out areas of potential opposition, concern whilst also seeking out areas of great practice to share how, whatever initiative it is, looks when it is working well! I will model the idea for others to see as much as I can do-if we share marking-mine must be there-if we peer observe ideas-I must offer to be observed teaching and so on.

If the initiative is to have an impact on learning and teaching [no point introducing it if it doesn’t!] I will monitor the impact, ask questions of all and change the thrust if students/teachers tell me that there is minimal impact on their learning/teaching or some aspects are working better than others. I might have to swallow my pride and change completely [I didn’t say give up!!] and it is important that I’m seen to listen and react to professional consensus. For any new CPD/initiatives it’s crucial that as a staff we get used to trialling, assessing the impact, adapting, trialling again, sharing the successes and adaptations [and reasons] with colleagues, assess again etc.-If I stand up and talk about this type of professional development [see our last blog] I have to model it myself. My ideas have failed many times in the classroom or as a leader-[Flight Path didn’t take off as I wanted!] but for younger teachers, failure can be a bitter pill at first and we need to prepare them to use their mistakes, and even encourage them-concurrent theme through many of the blogs-teacher growth


My other SLT colleagues are positive Rottweiler’s with their initiatives and once they go for an idea, they chase and support relentlessly and gain respect as they go. If I mentioned the BSG assessment system and the school reporting system as they are recently in our minds-you’ll get the gist! It’s tough as a middle leader to get everyone to agree and follow an agreed format-for an SLT initiative to work you have to consider 100 adults, 750 students, their parents and sometimes the wider community. I hope that I can wind hearts and minds with our GM push and after a term of introductory ideas/great examples and watching for initial reactions, I’m moving up a gear of trying to make the concept an integral part of our learning and teaching psyche. I knew when our 6C [whole school competencies] had made an impact when in student surveys asking about great learning characteristics, they began to tell me the names of our Cs as desirable elements and similarly when the staff devised their ‘Meols Cop Way’  of learning and teaching-the Cs were there again. The Cs had been shared via assemblies, form-time activities, parental information, appeared on lesson planning sheets, used in activity weeks, surveyed and so on until everybody used them and they assumed value and credibility. I would hope that similar tactics will work equally well with GM and that students will see the value of it and tell me and that teachers will include it in their desirable lesson characteristics to be discussed in summer.

The bulletin article begins the next step of embedding GM. Our Progress Stars have proved to be incredibly successful and popular-the school is covered in posters sharing the names of students who have worked well in their lessons with specific learning reasons and 1000s of postcards have gone home to celebrate the learning progress made. The message is loud and clear-learning and progress are good, achievable by all and are celebrated here! I want the same to happen with the GM message. I do rely on teachers sending me the names of students and giving very specific reasons for their qualification to be a MCMS Star-hence the detailed list to choose from-and then then our office staff write up the bulletin names and send postcards home whilst I produce and stick the posters up. The new postcard is this and will have details of the student and their GM achievement on the back.


The same information will appear on the bulletins for all to see and they go home electronically each week [or on paper] Further posters have been placed in the dining room of the criteria so that the students can see what is happening whilst year 7 will have MCMS explained in Monday’s assembly. They are our target group for more intensive GM!

On today’s bulletin, the first mind-set names appeared to get 2015 learning off to a great start. They included;

Kieran Bradshaw, Micha Williams and Jessica Dewhurst for coming along to maths clinic on a number of occasions to seek help with maths homework in order to complete it to the best of their ability.

Malika Guenini has asked for advice on her science homework and for revision for her test. Sat in my room during several lunch times to work, without me asking her to.

Shakil Zaman and Craig Black for showing great perseverance during textiles lessons to over-come the challenges of hand sewing.

Natalia Reczulska or accepting challenges in textiles and developing her hand and machine sewing to a high level of accuracy

Natasha Polansky for always turning up to maths with a positive attitude and always trying her best with a number of difficult topics. Natasha never gives up!

Jack Dahl – 8.3 Science – When the going gets tough, students who get going! On the last day before Christmas, when he’d been off all week because he was ill and still wasn’t fully better, he sat at the back of the class and completed his end of term test even whilst the whole class were doing a fun game.

Eve Lancaster – Art – Eve always comes to Art with a positive attitude and willingness to learn new techniques. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Lewis Taylor – 8.3 Science – Students who have tried their best when faced with a large learning barrier and want to beat it by chipping away with marginal gains. Didn’t achieve a Bronze first time around in his test, but by slowly working through the questions he eventually achieved it.

Samantha Halloran Smith, Lalibela Bolton, Bella Kenyon, India Clark, Hollie Power, Amy Redman and Molly Crawford will often stay behind at break or lunchtimes to discuss additional questions beyond the syllabus just because they are interested and really want to do well in science.

Tom Mitchell, Daniel Powell and Luke Ashton are really keen and have a super enthusiastic attitude. They go over past papers and mark schemes so they can see how to answer GCSE questions.

Caris Dixon finds the mathematical side of science challenging, but she is coming to intervention sessions and won’t give up – she is determined to achieve.

Erin Thornton, although she missed a lot of work from the Physics unit, she still chose to sit the end of unit test and did really well. Attempted all questions, even when they were difficult.

Charlotte Tye always attempts the questions first before she asks me. When I check it for her, she’s normally right!

Kayleigh Hayes will readily ask support and attend extra lessons and shows pleasing progress in her artwork.

Katie Macdonald came to extra science revision lessons and it proved successful – she met her target in her most recent assessment.

Louise Humphries completes all work to a beautiful standard and never gives up, even when she finds it difficult.

Nathan Beard arrives at art and is always positive. Completes all work to a high quality standard and never gives up, even when he finds it difficult.

Kyle Bell has identified the topics he makes silly errors on and has attended revision after school to improve his knowledge on these areas.

Students who always try themselves to stick at a difficult question/concept:

Yr 11 Megan Harrison

Yr 10 Ellie McKinnon, Emma Gratton, Kimberley Hickey and Fraser Anderson

Yr 9 Lee Brothers, James Ray and Rachael Connell

Yr 8 Jimmy Rimmer, Erin Sharrock-Ingleby, Amelia Cummins, Michael Hignett, Emily Allen and Xloe Johnson

Yr 7 Ellis Baker, Charlotte Maher, Millie Buckley

Students who have gone out of their way to help others and who enjoy others being


Yr 11 Liam Evans and Daniel Wilcox

Yr 10 Katie Howard

Yr 9 Dylan Burrows and Owen Taylor

Yr 8 Antonia Hirons, Ellie Homewood, Macy Mordey and Alex Mackey

Yr 7 Bekki Hayes, Jasmine Hitchcock and David Keenan

Students who may have been down and who have gradually, with patient support, began to feel more positive:

Yr 11 Maisie Kewin, Laura Redman and Romana Lloyd-Drummond

Yr 10 Alex Matthews

Yr 9 Megan Flint

Yr 8 Callum Hughes and Natasha Polansky

Students who have asked for extra work/advice/attend extra lessons:

Yr 11 Abigail Knapton, Caitlin Richards and Natalie Birch

Yr 10 Alex Matthews, Emily Telford and Elle Massam

Yr 9 Carli Jackson and Megan Flint

Yr 8 Natasha Polansky

I do want the students to be able to talk about the initiative to me-I don’t have actual proof [I’ve just failed no 1 on the educational research criteria!] just an old professional gut feeling that the more we expect our students to talk about their learning-the better learners they become-and will use our Learning Walks to interview students from across all ages and abilities and from every teacher. These have become an important source of student voice for me and I’m able to use what our ‘punters’ tell me to inform their teachers [and the whole school community] about the impact of their strategies and to monitor whatever I am asking about. I’m aware that Learning Walks are not universally popular in many schools and are often seen as management hit squad visits-unannounced drop ins followed by feedback. I’m sure many aren’t like this and are used in a developmental way-I prefer either informal drop-ins to look for ‘Magic Moments’ or organised up-front professional dialogue! Ours interview 4 students [not the teacher] who the teacher chooses to talk to me and the questions are known at least a month in advance. I tell the teachers in advance which lesson I’m going to ask for students from and the student responses are returned to the teacher [for their professional portfolio] and to the faculty leader. I write both faculty and whole school reports and feedback so that we can then discuss the research and use it to inform our next moves. I think that this is perhaps the 4th or 5th year of my ‘walking’ and although staff were suspicious at first [I think because they don’t always tell me!] and wondered what I was up to; I hope now that they can see the value of Learning Walks, the MCHS way, and their place with surveys and other student voice activities.

My questions this year were on the Xmas bulletin for students and parents to see and I’ll visit every classroom before half-term. The presentation went to all staff to show in form or class as appropriate.

03 04 05 06

The questions cover more than GM, although adults in school need a positive mind-set of their own to listen to and act upon student views. This can be controversial if mishandled-I have every faith that my colleagues are dedicated and excellent classroom practitioners-we appointed them and we have developed them-blame Alison and myself if they aren’t; however student views of their teaching, like peer critique, can be based on false premises and concepts of what great teaching should look like. As much as we try to develop student knowledge of desirable learning characteristics, they sometimes struggle to articulate their views on teaching beyond ‘fun’ and ‘kind’-they have probably had ‘learning should be fun’ shoved at them for some time and can’t be blamed for repeating it or perhaps suggesting the teacher doesn’t appeal to their particular learning style! Having issued a cautionary note, I still do believe that we should ask their opinions on very specific learning and teaching issues to develop their own ‘learnish’ [language of learning] and to inform us if our ideas are effective for the individuals interviewed. It would be nonsensical to carry on with a strategy that they tell us doesn’t help their learning or not to listen when they recommend a strategy that another teacher uses. The majority of questions are about their own learning strengths and weaknesses and ask for areas of difficulty so their teacher can respond if necessary. I hope that we have created a learning environment for both students and adults where we can openly question and talk about our learning, teaching and leadership without any fear and with a honest ambition to do so simply because we all want to learn from each other and be the best students, teachers, support staff and school that we can be-Meols Cop Mind-Set in action!

2 thoughts on “Meols Cop Mind Set Stars

  1. Katherine Muncaster

    Really interesting blog as always. You’re right for any initiative to be effective it has to run through a school like the words on a stick of rock. Have you thought about children interviewing other children about the impact rather than staff? I have found in general it gives a more accurate reflection and often turned into a mini coaching session! The interviewers would need training first.

    1. David Jones Post author

      Thanks Katherine, that’s a great idea. We do use the students as leaders in all areas but this would be a really interesting addition to ‘student voice’ I’ll introduce it into year 7 or use my year 8 interview team. I need to interview to dig deeper than the students may but you are right both should happen. You’ll see our student voice in action in the next blog when I share the whole school form-time discussions we’ve been having on British Values. Will be interested to see [from those yet to submit their stuff] if there is any difference in what they say after the atrocities in France. Thank you again for finding time to respond-I appreciate you sharing your ideas with us.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *