Metacognition is thinking about thinking with the aim of developing a mindset for learning.

What is a mindset?



Metacognition from the display

At Norton Community Primary School we encourage children to take an active part in their learning using the concept of mindsets.

What is a Mindset?

A mindset is the set of beliefs we hold about ourselves which influence our actions and thinking. There are two broad types of mindset:

  • A Fixed Mindset
  • A Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset

Metcognition from the display

Those who hold a fixed mindset believe that basic qualities, such as intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. You have a certain amount and that is that!

As a result, they believe that these fixed traits alone create success – without effort. Someone with a fixed mindset will also spend their time avoiding mistakes and failure as these are just affirmation of what they can’t do.

Growth Mindset

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Someone who has a growth mindset believes these traits are not finite and fixed and that they can be developed. Therefore, they see success as a result of hard work, resilience, persistence, training and learning – effort equals success.

Intelligence is open to change – your potential is never full.

With a growth mindset you believe you can learn just about anything. It might take a struggle or involve failure but, with effort and perseverance, you can succeed.

Needless to say, this is the mindset that we want to develop in our school.

Good Habits

We encourage children to ‘change your mindset’ and embrace these habits of a growth mindset:

Effort and persistence

Children are taught that effort is the route to mastery. ‘If I want to... I must...’

Embracing challenge

Children are encouraged to take risks; not made afraid of making mistakes or of failure. ‘What would happen if...? How many ways can I...?’

Accepting mistakes

In the classroom, mistakes are celebrated and their vital part in learning is identified. ‘I went wrong because...’

Using feedback

Feedback is used to help children understand the things they do with a big emphasis on the process used to achieve success. ‘I succeeded because I...‘

Understanding metacognition

Children are taught about recent discoveries in neuroscience - how the brain works. This can help them understand their reactions to new situations and problems. ‘Hang on, I need to think about this...‘


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Research and practice in schools has shown great benefit in giving children specific time, during the school week, to look back and reflect on their learning.

Accordingly, there is a timetabled lesson to do so, in a manner appropriate for the age of the children. For example, children might add to an ongoing learning journal. They self-assess and tag their performance in a previous lesson and use emojis as a way to understand their emotional response. They then focus on what they could do next time.


A growth mindset delivers curiosity, questioning and communication; ideal traits specifically required by the National Curriculum.

We use the concept of an Enquiry to model and develop these key skills.

An enquiry is generated by using a stimulus. This could be an object, a picture, a story or sometimes a given question is useful: ‘Would you like to have a birthday every day of the year?‘. Stimuli are used in all areas of the curriculum.

Older children are encouraged to create their own question, analyse and refine it.

Metacognition from the display