The Power of a Positive Attitude to Learning

I am often amazed by just how enthusiastic some children are about school and wonder what it is that sparks a real lifelong love of learning in a child. ..

I am often amazed by just how enthusiastic some children are about school and wonder what it is that sparks a real lifelong love of learning in a child.

Is it about exposing them to inspirational teachers who capture their pupils' imagination in every lesson? Are children who are academically gifted just as likely to enjoy school as those who are more at home on the sports field?

Some of the best schools I speak to place a great deal of importance on nurturing a good attitude to learning in their pupils from a young age. From what they tell me, it can have a positive impact on achievement and make the experience of school a much richer and more satisfying experience for every child. One such school is the British School of Kuwait.

Encourage and reward

The British School of Kuwait, or BSK, has 2,500 students representing more than 75 different nationalities. Students from kindergarten to sixth form study side by side on one large campus. This creates a rich and diverse mixture of cultures - it is a slice of Britain in the Arabian Gulf.

The school is heavily oversubscribed and has very high academic and social expectations of its students. Good behaviour is something that is expected so staff do not reward their students for simply sitting quietly and listening in lessons as they should be doing this anyway. So what have they done to raise the bar?

All teachers at the school are required to award two housepoints in every lesson; one for achievement and one for attitude to learning. As students accumulate points, they are awarded certificates from bronze to silver and gold.

Negative behaviour points are also issued, and those students with no negative points at the end of each term are invited to a Club Zero party to celebrate. The results have been interesting - it seems that being included in this event has become a key goal for many of the children.

Healthy competition

The points are recorded directly onto the school's computer system so staff can see what achievement or negative behaviour points a child has received throughout the day. This means they can congratulate them or ask what the points were for and deal with any issues quickly.

The school has found that students will often try to outdo each other in class with the quality of their answers and contributions so that they will be awarded the points in the lesson. This healthy competition is something that is encouraged at BSK. It's helping to turn what was already good pupil behaviour into excellent behaviour and improving attitudes to learning across the school.

BSK shared the details of this initiative at an annual conference run by SIMS Independent last year. Since then I've heard from so many school leaders that have introduced elements of it or tweaked it to suit the pupils in their own schools.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on what more schools could do to encourage good attitudes to learning. Do you think it is something schools should focus on? You might like to share some ideas that have worked well in your own child's school.

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