Mindset - Active Schools

Active Schools links Growth Mindset to sport and physical activity within schools and communities in Fife.

We aspire to create a culture where people embrace challenge. We reward effort and the processes in tasks. This will motivate and inspire future learning. It is important that we accept mistakes as learning and have a 'can do' attitude to develop.

Designed to assist Sports Deliverers, Teachers and Parents

Mindset - The individuals perception towards a specific task. This may differ depending on the task complexity and your previous experiences.

Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has studied and researched mindset for years. She theorises that intelligence is not fixed. Our brain is malleable and can grow through challenge and experiences. An individual with a growth mindset embraces challenge and uses mistakes as an opportunity to learn. Strong connections with neurons form within the brain when making mistakes. It is the process of effort in the mistake that will help improvement in future tasks.

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Understanding Mindset

Within sport and physical activity why do some children give up or quit?

Those who quit and give up are more likely to be sufferers of a fixed mindset. They don't yet understand the ability to develop and learn through effort, hard work and grit. They believe that they do not have the intelligence and are not willing to attempt this and fail.

The term 'yet' will prove to be an influential word on your mindset journey. This can prove to be integral in placing a child on the learning curve rather than off the end of it.

This culture change in mindset will inspire people to believe that through effort they can achieve.

Ability Grouping

This is the process of grouping children by current achievements or assumed ability. Ability grouping is to be avoided as we give the individual mixed messages.

Children and young people should be able to learn and develop at a natural pace to them. In education and sport, it is the deliverers responsibility to create this environment. Feedback should be given to best meet the needs of the individual.

By implementing this theory we prevent children making assumptions on their own abilities. They do not feel there is a limit to their learning and thus feel empowered to embrace new challenges and tasks.

Use the example below to consider how a young person might view ability grouping based on their own mindset.

Bottom Set:

'I'm the worst in my class, I will never be smart.'

'I will use this to my advantage an put in extra effort to improve.'

Middle Set:

'If I make mistakes I will be in the bottom group, if I do enough I will stay in this group.'

'I am going to put in a lot of effort because I want to get more difficult challenges.'

Top Set:

'I have a lot of ability an the best in the class, my ability if fixed I will always be the great.

'I better not make mistakes and let my peers think otherwise.'

'If I work really hard I will be given even harder tasks, this will help me improve.'

Theory strongly suggests against ability grouping. Avoiding the grouping of children based on their perceived ability allows for more effective learning. Presenting learners with a challenge with varying levels of difficulty and allowing learners to select their desired task favours the learner and promotes a better learning environment. It is the responsibility of the individual setting the task to ensure children select a challenge suitable for their development.


Language used by a teacher or sports deliverer has a significant effect on the learner. Language can often provide the tools a learner or participant needs to adopt a growth mindset to a specific task. Therefore it is crucial that we recognise the negative affect language can have on the learner. In telling a young child or young person they are intelligent or clever, does this actually install a fixed mindset where they fear failure?

Praise and Feedback

Language in forms of praise and feedback can have a similar impact on a child or young peoples learning. Effective praise will encourage the learner to consider the process not the outcome. This allows the learner to avoid dwelling on the end result or failure to complete a task. They are then able to reflect on the process, strategy, effort and why the task was unachievable. Real learning takes place in this instance, giving opportunity for intelligence to grow.

Framing Tools and Questioning

Framing tools install a growth mindset in our learners approach to tasks. Effective questioning will encourage children to push their boundaries and challenge themselves. When framing a situation we must consider the feeling the pupil/participant is experiencing. Are they apprehensive, how might they react, can you give them confidence, are you setting them up to fail? These are all considerations we must embed into our framing techniques. To achieve this we must avoid creating anxiety and fear, but ensure the learner is stepping outside of their comfort zone. They must be challenging themselves to learn and to improve.

When constructing a task we must consider framing the process of development. This must encourage challenge and allow the learner to focus on a strategy to achieve through effort.

In completion of a task this framing tool enables us to reflect on the process, re-evaluate and try another strategy.

Discovering your Mindset

Before working with children and young people on their mindset, we must consider our own. We must understand our own fixed traits and recognise where and when we adopt a growth mindset. Understanding triggers and feelings will help shape learning.

Only once we have a knowledge of our mindset, we can impact and change the mindset of others.

Consider the following list of fixed mindset traits and think about a time where you have reacted in a similar way.

- Give up, stop trying, become defensive, avoid it, let someone else do it, disengage yourself, ignore it, make excuses, fear failure, stop listening or feel anxious

Now consider that situation and think about how someone with a growth mindset would react to a particular task and embrace the challenge.

Would any of these things enable you to become closer to achieving that particular challenge?

Growth mindset aims to show that learning and even talent aren't fixed. Through scientific understanding in mindset, an individuals capabilities do not have a ceiling. One persons learning abilities aren't anymore or any less than the next persons. Some may get there quicker, but that doesn't reflect their ability or inability to learn and improve at a particular task or challenge.

Individuals cannot 'decide' they have a growth mindset. We must appreciate and work to understand our own mindset. Then we must work with it to embrace the challenge of changing fixed mindset traits. Once we know our own triggers we can help guide others.




Assessing Pupils Mindset



Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

Mindset Assessment Video

Mindset Check Up

Mindset Behaviours and Learning in Sport

Growth vs. Fixed

Star Task

Awareness and Change Tasks



Learning Pit

Visualisation Video

Change Task - Strategy Box

Zone of Learning


Challenge Language Task



Language - Active Schools

Learning Zones - Active Schools

Adversity and Resilience


Resilience Steps

Sporting Athletes - Self Talk

Resilience Pillars


Messi - Adversity


Understanding Talent



Competency Wheel

Understanding Talent (SportScotland)


Realistic Success



Goal Setting



Smart Goals

Planning for Success Video

Plan for Success (SportScotland)

Learning Wheel - Active Schools

Goal Setting in Sport


SMART Goal Setting

Case Studies



Mindset Champions - Fife







For more information on Mindset and Active Schools

Contact: Ronan Capon & Darren Wilson

Tel: 08451 55 55 55. Ext. 453107/494239

Mob: 07872 424 648

Email: Ronan.capon@fife.gov.uk & Darren.wilson@fife.gov.uk

Web: http://www.activeschoolsfife.org.uk