The Granville School talk us through their positive approach to developing resilience

As a predominantly girls’ school (we only have boys in our Pre-school), resilience is high on our list of skills to develop in our pupils. Although we’d like to think that our pupils’ future lives would be a level playing field in an equitable society, the reality is that this is not yet the case.

Our mission is to foster confidence, self-belief, emotional intelligence and an ability to withstand adversity. Much of modern life is fast-paced, challenging and competitive. There will be joy, there will be disappointment. We prepare our pupils for this. It is widely known that resilience is a key factor in being successful but some children develop this more naturally than others. We found that simply encouraging a child to be resilient was not enough and we wanted a way to explicitly teach these skills as we would teach long division or how to use apostrophes.

Two years ago, we introduced the Positive Education programme to our school, with every class now having weekly lessons timetabled and all staff trained in delivering the curriculum. Positive Education combines traditional education principles with research-backed ways of increasing happiness and wellbeing. It is about empowering each individual to explore their own strengths to lead richer and fuller lives.

Our aim is for every child to flourish, not just academically but socially and emotionally. Research shows that for this to happen, there are six domains that need to be nurtured. These are positive relationships, positive emotions, positive health, positive engagement, positive accomplishment, and positive purpose. Alongside these six domains is the focus on character strengths. Pupils are encouraged to spot character strengths both in themselves and in their peers to make the most of their strengths and build awareness of weaknesses. This teaches pupils to acknowledge all feelings, even negative ones, and learn how to deal with them so they can confidently face challenges and deal with less pleasant emotions such as jealousy or anger.

“We can do anything if we put our mind to it”

Activities might include researching people from history who failed at first but persisted. Our pupils might take on challenges that require grit and determination and share their experiences and the skills they used to succeed. Music is used with inspiring lyrics and reflection time is built into lessons to give students the chance to think about the skills of resilience they can use in various scenarios.

In addition to this ‘resilience curriculum’, our girls have a myriad of opportunities to practise and hone their skills. Competitive sport is available for all of our girls and is highly valued here. Everything from boxing to water confidence, Jujitsu to football is available. This ‘sport for all’ approach fosters resilience as well as supporting good mental health.

Drama is a core part of our wider curriculum from the age of three. Girls take LAMDA exams, perform in a professional theatre and take part in a number of seasonal productions. This builds confidence and teamwork skills and also tests resilience. Throughout the school, girls are endowed with leadership opportunities. Our School Council meets weekly with the headmistress to share pupils’ voices with school leaders. Our Year 6 prefects walk the school dog and help with Pre-school playground duties. They even compose songs for their younger counterparts to be performed at our Spring Festival.

Our motto, ‘Believe, Inspire, Achieve’ reminds us that we can do anything if we put our mind to it and our curriculum teaches us how to cope when we encounter difficulties. With a growth mindset, resilience and ambition, the sky is the limit for our pupils and they repeatedly demonstrate this.

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