Teachers become Scotland’s first ‘mindset graduates’

A group of 124 teachers have become the first in Scotland to achieve a qualification in the widely acclaimed ‘growth mindset’ approach to education.

The education professionals gained 15 accreditation points at Masters level in ‘applied growth mindset’ by Glasgow Caledonian University – which has led to transformational change in a number of schools across the country.

124 teachers have become the first in Scotland to achieve a qualification in the widely acclaimed ‘growth mindset’ approach to education.

Education professionals from schools across 19 Scottish local authorities and one university (Edinburgh Napier) completed a 12-month blended learning programme as part of the ‘Mindset in Education’ programme delivered by the charity, Winning Scotland Foundation. The teachers developed a deep understanding of how to integrate growth mindset practice into their day-to-day teaching and classroom culture.

Having a growth mindset in school helps young people approach tasks with the intention to try their hardest, learn from mistakes, develop strategies to solve problems and to persevere when faced with challenges – all critical to successful learning and attainment.

The effort and commitment of these teachers has heralded a number of highly positive changes in their schools and, in some cases, truly astonishing outcomes.

Kerri Tough from Fintry Primary School in Dundee witnessed an extraordinary confidence change in one Primary 6 pupil: “There is one child in the class who didn’t speak at all, but when we started doing growth mindset activities, he managed to read out loud one sentence in front of his peers, which is something he’s been trying to develop for years. The mindset work has really helped him.”

Also in Dundee, four staff at St Paul’s RC Academy used their mindset training to help them improve relationships with a group of six fourth-year boys described as ‘high-level needs’ and ‘massively disengaged’.

After eight weeks, there was a significant reduction in disciplinary interventions and a drop in poor behaviour. The teachers also noticed an increase in the pupils’ emotional intelligence – they became more willing to ask for support rather than giving up: “In the past if I made a mistake I’d just stop. Now I keep going”, said one boy.

Crucially, this change in mindset enabled the boys to make positive choices about their future. Once at risk of dropping out of education altogether, instead the boys chose to stay and sit their National 4’s. Between them, the boys achieved a grade A, seven B’s, five C’s and a D.

On the other side of Scotland, Emma Carroll from Straiton and Kirmichael Primary Schools in South Ayrshire reported a range of positive changes after starting to use growth mindset, including:

  • Improved pupil confidence and resilience when faced with a challenge
  • Pupils taking more pride in their work
  • A 60% increase in positivity towards learning

In Cairn Primary School in South Ayrshire, Louisa Stevenson used growth mindset to investigate levels of maths anxiety in her Primary 3/4 class. As a result, anxiety levels dropped by more than 40% and attainment improved. She said:

“It’s helping the children believe that mistakes are good, that’s how we learn. If we get everything right first time, we’re not really learning anything. We showed them videos on the neuroscience behind growth mindset and they’re really bought into it now.”

Morag Arnot, Executive Director of Winning Scotland Foundation said: “We’re so proud of the 124 teachers who have achieved this qualification in applied growth mindset. They have shown fantastic dedication to their careers and the children in their care – and we’ve seen from their reports that growth mindset is making a huge difference in their schools.

“What’s even more exciting is that this group of graduates will be the first of many – we expect many more teachers to achieve the qualification. By supporting the development of positive learning environments across Scotland using growth mindset, it’s a huge step towards fulfilling our charitable purpose of empowering more young people in Scotland with confidence and resilience.”

One of the graduates, Kiara Mayne from Isobel Mair School, East Renfrewshire, said: “I feel very fortunate that I was able to complete this course as it was an excellent opportunity and I learned a lot which will benefit me in my teaching practice. I thoroughly enjoyed the online learning experience.”

Eight of the 124 individuals to achieve the award are teachers in Stirling. Convener of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee, Cllr Susan McGill said: “It’s fantastic that a number of our teachers are among the first in Scotland to achieve this important qualification, which will help our children and young people achieve their potential and reach a range of positive destinations. A huge well done to all the Stirling Council graduates.”

Mindset in Education is delivered via a range of programmes by Winning Scotland Foundation, with more than 700 teachers involved. All participating teachers complete 50 hours of online learning followed by delivery of a practical project in their school.

‘Growth mindset’ is a psychological term devised by Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University. She explains that: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work - brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Case studies from several of the teachers who achieved the qualification are available here:

Where are the teachers from?


  • Aberdeenshire – 1
  • Angus - 2
  • Dumfries and Galloway - 4
  • Dundee - 18
  • East Ayrshire - 4
  • East Renfrewshire - 6
  • Edinburgh Napier University - 4
  • Falkirk - 4
  • Glasgow - 1
  • Highland - 3
  • Inverclyde - 1
  • Moray - 1
  • North Ayrshire - 2
  • North Lanarkshire – 17
  • Perth & Kinross – 1
  • Renfrewshire - 21
  • South Ayrshire - 9
  • South Lanarkshire - 1
  • Stirling - 8
  • West Lothian - 13