The GCSE Mindset: 40 activities for transforming student commitment, motivation and productivity, written by Steve Oakes and Martin Griffin, offers a wealth of concrete, practical and applicable tools designed to supercharge GCSE students’ resilience, positivity, organisation and determination.
At a time when GCSE teaching can feel like a conveyor belt of micromanaged lessons and last-ditch interventions, Steve and Martin – acclaimed authors of The A Level Mindset – suggest a different approach, underpinned by their VESPA model of essential life skills: vision, effort, systems, practice and attitude.
These five non-cognitive characteristics beat cognition hands down as predictors of academic success, and in The GCSE Mindset Steve and Martin take this simple model as their starting point and present a user-friendly month-by-month programme of activities, resources and strategies that will help students break through barriers, build resilience, better manage their workload and ultimately release their potential – both in the classroom and beyond.
The book’s forty activities, while categorised thematically under the VESPA umbrella, have been sequenced chronologically by month in order to better chart the student’s journey through the academic year and to help them navigate the psychological terrain ahead. Each activity can be delivered one-to-one, to a tutor group or to a whole cohort, has been designed to take fifteen to twenty minutes to complete, and has been written with a pupil audience in mind. However, to complement the tasks’ practical utility, the authors also explore the underpinning research and theory – including the pioneering work of Angela Duckworth, Dr Steve Bull and Carol Dweck – in more detail in the introduction to each section.
Informed by the authors’ collective thirty-plus years of teaching and coaching, this essential handbook for GCSE success also suggests key coaching questions and interventions for use with pupils and includes expert guidance on how schools can implement and audit the core components and outcomes of the VESPA approach in their own settings. Additionally – and indeed pertinently in the present educational environment where empirical data is valued so highly – the book features a chapter dedicated to the measurement of mindset, written by guest contributors Dr Neil Dagnall and Dr Andrew Denovan from Manchester Metropolitan University. They present the twenty-eight-item VESPA questionnaire, which they helped Steve and Martin to design, and take the reader through the research process behind its origins before going on to describe how it can be used to identify areas for development and to measure the impact of interventions.
Suitable for teachers, tutors and parents who want to boost 14–16-year-olds’ academic outcomes and equip them with powerful tools and techniques in preparation for further education and employment.
1. The VESPA Model: An Introduction to VESPA
2. Using This Book
3. September: Start with the Why
4. October: Mapping the Journey
5. November: Leading and Lagging Indicators
6. December: The Three Phases of Practice
7. January: Agency and Efficacy
8. February: Effort is Relative
9. March: Fight or Flight
10. April: Changing Lanes, Finding Flow
11. May: Well-Being and Stress Management
12. Coaching with VESPA
13. Implementation: Putting VESPA into Action
14. Measuring Mindset Using Psychometric Tests by Neil Dagnall and Andrew Denovan
Steve Oakes is a researcher, an education trainer and an associate lecturer in psychology. Prior to assuming his current position, he was the assistant director of sixth form at The Blue Coat School in Oldham, where he worked with his co-author, Martin Griffin, for eight years.
Martin Griffin has over two decades’ experience teaching students aged eleven to eighteen, and has been a head of faculty, an assistant head teacher and a deputy head teacher. He is also an award-winning writer of children’s fiction, whose books include The Poison Boy – written under the pseudonym Fletcher…