UK Private School Produce Mentally Tougher Students Than Their State School Peers
Is This The Case In Australia Too?
New research commissioned by the UK’s Independent Schools Council (ISC) found that fee-paying schools are producing mentally tougher students than those who attend state schools.
The ISC Report, “An Analysis of Mental Toughness at UK Independent Schools”, involved 9,000 pupils of all ages from 58 schools in England and Scotland and measured across the 4C’s of control, commitment, challenge and confidence.
The psychometric test publisher AQR found that private school children have good attainment, wellbeing and behaviour, are better at dealing with setbacks and, as a result, are more open to learning.
AQR’s online psychometric tool, MTQ48, measures mental toughness which is a personality trait which describes how we respond mentally to stress, pressure, challenge and opportunity. It describes “how we think” which is an important determinant on “how we act” (behaviour) and “how we feel” (our emotional response to events). Research shows that an individual’s mental toughness is a factor in attainment, wellbeing, positive behaviour and aspirations. These are often described as life skills and all are important in education.
The test results gave an overall score of 4.26 for privately educated students, whilst state school children had an overall score of 3.94. The private school students were higher in each of the C’s of Control, Commitment and Challenge with the difference in Commitment (essentially focus and reliability on attaining goals) particularly marked, whereas in the fourth C, Confidence, the results were pretty similar between the two.
Julie Robinson, General Secretary of ISC, said that privately educated students scored better due to “the breadth of curriculum, wide-ranging activities outside the classroom and excellent pastoral care” which she said helps to create “create resilient and worldly young men and women who are ready for further study and work in adult life.”
Jesse Elzinga, Headmaster of Reading Blue Coat School, a boys’ day school with co- educational 6th form was equally positive about the study and results.
“We pride ourselves on the quality of pastoral care we deliver with the aim to nurture and develop every pupil as a well-rounded individual. Alongside our commitment to academic excellence we endeavour to provide our pupils and parents with the full value of an independent education. Through participating in the soft value added research delivered by the ISC, we sought to gain an insight into the development of our pupils in the 4Cs to enhance their school experience. We have found the results from the study both positive and informative. It was encouraging to discover the emotional and social growth of our pupils during their school years here. The study has also enabled us to recognise the relevance of this data in day-to-day teaching and learning, and its value in improving pupil outcomes. The independent school sector is highly competitive and through our use of this data we can demonstrate to parents not only our ambition to develop a pupil academically, but also their character, resilience and ‘soft skills’, all of which broaden their education outside the classroom.”
Another participant, Mark Mortimer, Headmaster of Warminster School, a day and boarding co-educational school in Wiltshire, added that the study was important because “Emotional intelligence, reaction to failure, leadership, perseverance, resilience and the ability to improvise and adapt on one’s feet are increasingly important.”
The report is sizeable and so once analyzed in full will no doubt produce additional valuable information.
As well as the overall aggregated scores across all participating schools, each school will be able to use their individual results to help plan which areas could be focused on more in the future.
With a greater spotlight being shone on mental health and wellbeing in schools of all types, the data and intelligence gathered in this study will put schools in an excellent position to be able to focus all work in these areas with greater knowledge, accuracy and detail.
Paul Lyons, a father of school age children and an experienced mental toughness practitioner using the MTQ48 test and 4C’s framework, commented that “it’s a comprehensive body of work on a critically important topic and provides an important platform for further analysis and research on how schools, private and state, are developing soft skills and whether their approach can be improved to develop mentally tougher students”.
Local educators will question whether this difference between private and state schools exists in Australia and if so why. They will also want to understand how to develop mentally tougher students to give their students a better platform on which to tackle exams and adolescence and then onto adult life’s challenges and opportunities.
For more information on how to developing mentally tougher students and teachers in your school and tailored development programmes contact us.