Tag Archives: achievement

Nurturing resilience in schools – The whole school approach.

You can’t seem to get away from the whole resilience thing at the moment. The government seems obsessed with it and I’ve noticed more private organisations popping up with some wild claims about producing resilient pupils (as if it were a thing you can instil). I’ve been investigating resilience in young people for a number of years now (and have read more academic papers on the subject than I can count.), and if I’ve come away with just one thing, it’s that the concept is far more complex than many seem to claim.

Some children are certainly more resilient than others – it takes a lot to knock them down, they just keep bouncing back up like Bandura’s bobo doll – the harder they get hit, the faster they rise. This is often the case with young people from high-risk and vulnerable backgrounds and this is where much of the early research into resilience was concentrated. Our views of resilience are often dependent on desired outcomes and I tend to describe resilience as more of an umbrella term (beneath which related concepts such as buoyancy and grit reside). Traditional resilience research goes back several decades and I’ve written about this research before, however, I haven’t written very much about the ways in which schools can provide environments that allow resilience to develop, and how the right environment can help our most vulnerable young people.

One thing we need to be clear about is that there is still some disagreement over the psychological nature of resilience as a construct: some researchers say resilience is a trait (a part of our personality) while others believe it to be an emergent process, often formed through the experience of adversity. What we do know is that no matter how harsh the environment in which young people are raised; no matter how high their vulnerability to debilitating psychological illness, many will survive without any long lasting adverse consequences and many well thrive within the harshest conditions.

Professor Sir Michael Rutter conducted research in London schools in the 1970’s that highlight the vital role school plays in protecting our most vulnerable children from extreme adversity. Rutter found that some schools were better than others at getting the most out of vulnerable children, especially those from dysfunctional and chaotic home lives.

The most successful schools:

  • Maintained appropriately high academic standards
  • Used effective incentives and rewards
  • Gave effective feedback, along with adequate praise from teachers
  • Ensured that all pupils were given the opportunity to be awarded positions of trust and responsibility

Children who attended schools displaying these characteristics were much less likely to develop emotional and behavioural problems despite severe deprivation and discord at home. There was also found to be a similarity in the characteristics of both home and school environments that were associated with greater resilience in children of divorced parents. Characteristics such as a responsive atmosphere and organised and predictable environment as well as clearly defined and consistently reinforced standards, rules and responsibilities appear to be common with the school and home lives of resilient children. For boys the most important factors were likely to be structure and control while for girls the most important factors were nurturing and assumption of responsibility.

It’s interesting how some schools have always managed to get the most out of their most vulnerable pupils without the need for ‘failure days’ or ‘resilience scorecards’. That’s not to say that targeted interventions aren’t useful, only that a whole school approach is more likely to be beneficial in the long-term. Coping with daily setbacks is another matter entirely (a resilience-related construct known as ‘academic buoyancy’), for which directed interventions are more appropriate.

Resilience, therefore, isn’t a thing you impose (or a box you tick); it’s a strength you encourage and nurture.

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When a nudge is better than a sledgehammer.

Encouraging positive behaviours in individuals can prove problematic in any domain and it’s often easier to get it really wrong than to get it even slightly right. For me, one of the most interesting
sledgehammer studies I encountered in 2014 concerned the effectiveness of ‘fear appraisals’ as a predictor of motivation and exam scores (Putwain & Remedios, 2014). Seeing as threats are often seen as a fall back position for many teachers as the exam season approaches, with such comments as ‘If you don’t revise you’ll fail your exams’ or ‘If you fail you won’t get your place at university’, these results are relevant to daily teaching practice.

This kind of research then raises other questions, such as ‘How do I motivate my students in a more effective and productive way?’ Behavioural economics might have the answer, however its techniques have so far failed to permeate the world of education and have, instead, concentrated on health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, if we dip our toes into some of research intended to promote healthier living, it becomes possible to see glimpses of where behavioural economics could fit within an educational paradigm.

A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) exhumes the once popular concept of self-affirmation. My immediate reaction to the paper was a wry smile as I recalled my old next-door neighbour who wrote the word ‘winner’ in lipstick on his rear-view mirror. Needless to say, I’ve never been a big fan of self-affirmations and not just because they involve the wilful misuse of copious amounts of post-it notes.

Despite my initial reservations (although many remain), I eventually realised that the research itself seemed quite promising. The paper (Falk et al., 2015), entitled ‘Self-affirmation alters the brain’s response to health messages and subsequent behavior change’ is interesting on several level (and not just because it has the word ‘brain’ in it).

According to the paper, self-affirmation (the affirmation of core-values) are effective if invoked prior to a message being given (and this is supported by previous research). Falk et al. wanted to investigate whether or not prior affirmation of core-values would lead to a group of sedentary participants being more receptive to health messages (i.e. would they be more likely to engage in physical activity) presented post core-value affirmation and how the brain responded to these messages.

The study supported previous research (in that reflecting on personal core-values led to the health message being more effective) but also highlighted the brain’s response to such messages in that the messages appeared to active the part of the brain associated with self-relevant information.

While information obtained through brain scans remains controversial and the sample size here was extremely small (67), it does throw up some interesting ideas of how the affirmation of core-value and other self-relevant information might help to ‘nudge’ learners in the right direction even before a message has been presented. It also raises a few questions concerning how positive emotional attributes could be ‘triggered’ prior to an important message or test situation.

References:

Falk, E.B., O’Donnell, M.B., Cascio, C.N., Tinney, F., Kang, Y., Lieberman, M.D., Taylor, S.E., An, L., Resnicow, K. & Strecher, V.J. (2015). Self-affirmation alters the brain’s response to health messages and subsequent behavior change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Online]. p.p. 201500247. Available from: http://www.pnas.org/lookup/doi/10.1073/pnas.1500247112.

Putwain, D. & Remedios, R. (2014). The scare tactic: Do fear appeals predict motivation and exam scores? School psychology quarterly?: the official journal of the Division of School Psychology, American Psychological Association. [Online]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24730693. [Accessed: 21 April 2014].

Perceptions of Failure: Is there a role for Positive Psychological Capital?

Consider the following two scenarios:

Matilda has just been given an essay back from her teacher and it’s not the result she hoped for. The teacher has given her lots of feedback and advice on how to improve on her essay and she reads it thoroughly and pledges to correct her errors and re-submit it in a few days time. She is disappointed but understands that if she acts on the feedback her grade should increase.

Matty has completed the same essay and, just like Matilda, didn’t get the result he wanted. With Matty this always seems to be the case and constant poor grades have left him demoralised. Again, there is lots of feedback and advice on how to improve but Matty doesn’t read it – he’s a failure, he always fails and there seems to be very little he can do to fix the problem.

There are several psychological factors at play here. We could say that Matilda is displaying a Growth Mindset while Matty is surely a Fixed Mindset. We could also suggest that Matty is displaying a certain degree of learned helplessness (he has become so fixated on failure that he can’t see a way out) as well as showing self-handicapping tendencies. These can be viewed as both cognitive and emotional responses to failure – I see it all the time in my Sixth Form students.

As well as the established reasons for Matty’s behaviour explained above, we could also view Matilda’s and Matty’s responses in terms of Positive Psychological Capital (or PsyCap). Although PsyCap is a concept rarely applied to education, its related components of high self-efficacy, optimism, hope and resiliency have been found to be important motivational components in academic success and, although these components might need revising in terms of education, the general framework seems suitably relevant.

The Role of Academic Buoyancy.

It’s highly likely that Matilda would test higher for levels of academic buoyancy than Matty as, on the surface, it would appear that she is more able to ‘bounce back’ from minor (yet personally significant) setbacks such as a disappointing grade on an essay. From his own research, Dave Putwain at Edge Hill University has speculated that buoyant individuals may not view academic failure as threatening to either personal aspirations or self-worth due to their belief in the ability to bounce back from failure. (Putwain et al., 2012) Putwain further suggests that buoyant individuals do not hold an expectation of failure because of a belief in their ability to respond positively to the challenge of evaluative-performance events, suggesting further that academic buoyancy is based on positive ways of approaching academic setbacks rather than attempting to cope with them. Another way to put this would be to say that Matilda has accumulated more positive psychological capital while Matty views failure as an end result due to his lack of positive psychological capital.

For teachers, this creates interesting opportunities. In a society so obsessed with success and failure how do we promote a more positive view to failure within our students? Boys appear particularly prone to this (although the evidence is mostly anecdotal) which would explain why my male students are less likely to hand in homework than my female students – they fear failure, partly due to their difficulties in dealing with it.

References:
Putwain, D.W., Connors, L., Symes, W. & Douglas-Osborn, E. (2012). Is academic buoyancy anything more than adaptive coping? Anxiety, stress, and coping. [Online]. 25 (3). p.pp. 349–58. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21644112. [Accessed: 10 December 2013].

The psychology of Education: Bring on the ‘hard’ questions.

prometheus-hard-questionI have been somewhat amazed by the way many teachers have recently become interested in the psychology of learning and teaching. Specifically, many teachers and edubloggers have embraced the role of cognitive psychology and I’ve lost count of the number of blog posts dedicated to cognitive processes. I say cognitive ‘processes’ but what I actually mean is one specific process – memory.

Of course, cognitive psychology encompasses much more than memory and I think there is always the danger that other aspects of cognition (e.g. attention, perception, intelligence and language acquisition) will become neglected topics within the educational community. My greatest concern is that other psychological aspects of learning, not thought of as cognitive, will become all but forgotten.

Broadly speaking, I consider myself to be a cognitive psychologist (or cognitive ‘scientist’ if that sounds ‘sexier’) even though my research with PERC is more concerned with emotion – a topic that tends to nervously wonder around the fringes of cognitive psychology. Emotions impact on cognitive and non-cognitive skills in many ways and represent what I call the ‘hard’ questions of learning.

Questions like:

    • Why are some learners more motivated/engaged/interested?
    • What role do positive and negative emotions play in academic achievement?
    • Why do some learners ‘bounce back’ from adversity while others are unable to cope with even minor setbacks?

If we are to design interventions based on these questions we first need to understand the underlying processes. Testing memory interventions is pretty straightforward and they lend themselves well to RCT-type testing (that’s partly due to over 40 years of serious memory research). The ‘hard’ questions don’t, partly because we don’t fully understand the processes involved ,which in turn makes the design (and subsequent trialling) of interventions problematic.

Despite many of the problems, there are certain things that research has discovered.

These include:

  • Test anxiety has a negative impact on GCSE results (Putwain, 2008)
  • Children who display higher levels of resilience suffer less from test anxiety, which in turn leads to higher levels of academic achievement (David W. Putwain, Nicholson, Connors, & Woods, 2013)
  • Resilient individuals are able to use positive emotions to ‘bounce back’ from negative experiences (Tugade & Fredrickson, 2011)
  • Positive emotions such as ‘interest’ enhance and broaden cognitive functioning (Fredrickson, 2004)
  • Worry and anxiety reduce the effectiveness of certain components of working memory (Ganley & Vasilyeva, 2014)
  • Positive emotions are more likely to enhance academic achievement when they are mediated by self-regulated learning and motivation (Mega, Ronconi, & De Beni, 2014)

I refer to these, as ‘hard’ questions partly because the ways in which we investigate them don’t lend themselves particularly well to the methodology of cognitive psychology. The problem is that scientific psychologists remain wary of introspective methods due to their subjective nature, so they have to design and implement more innovative methods in order to collect data. Qualitative research can be useful, but we exist in a world where quantitative methods are preferable. At the same time, more positivist methods suffer from issues of ecological validity and generalizability.

According to an Education Endowment Foundation report, the role of positive emotions in education “deserves more attention” as does the relationship between positive emotions and other non-cognitive skills (Gutman, 2013). Nevertheless, many might view such research as less deserving because it isn’t looking at the role of performance directly. It also tends to look at the role of individuals rather than groups – it’s more concerned with looking at differences between individuals rather than similarities.

As teachers we recognise that our class is made up of individuals who often react very differently in the same situation. All our students come to us with histories, traits and differing skills sets and while many will fit the ‘norm’, many will be the outliers – that’s where the interesting stuff resides.

References:

Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1367–78. doi:10.1098/rstb.2004.1512
Ganley, C. M., & Vasilyeva, M. (2014). The role of anxiety and working memory in gender differences in mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1), 105–120. doi:10.1037/a0034099
Gutman, L. M. (2013). The impact of non-cognitive skills on outcomes for young people: Literature review. Education Endowment Foundation
Mega, C., Ronconi, L., & De Beni, R. (2014). What makes a good student? How emotions, self-regulated learning, and motivation contribute to academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1), 121–131. doi:10.1037/a0033546
Putwain, D. W. (2008). Test anxiety and GCSE performance: the effect of gender and socio?economic background. Educational Psychology in Practice, 24(4), 319–334. doi:10.1080/02667360802488765
Putwain, D. W., Nicholson, L. J., Connors, L., & Woods, K. (2013). Resilient children are less test anxious and perform better in tests at the end of primary schooling. Learning and Individual Differences, 28, 41–46. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2013.09.010
Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2011). Resilient Individuals Use Positive Emotions to Bounce Back From Negative Emotional Experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 320–333. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.86.2.320.Resilient

Thinking about… Feedback

If feedback is one of the most effective routes to academic achievement then why do so many teachers do it so badly?

I’ve been teaching 6th Form students for a decade now and I’ve tried many different methods of written feedback. Early in my career I quickly realised two things:

  • Most students don’t read feedback
  • All students read the grade they have been awarded for the task

This in itself is an interesting observation seeing as research (Harks, Rakoczy, Hattie, Besser, & Klieme, 2014) has discovered that so-called ‘grade orientated feedback’ is far less effective than ‘process orientated feedback’ (the latter emphasising the type of feedback that aims to improve outcomes by giving specific targeted and goal-orientated advice). Furthermore, process orientated feedback not only has a positive effect on achievement, it also positively impacts on emotionally–based processes such as interest.

In an attempt to curb this I have, over the years, omitted the grade and given process-orientated feedback only, but because students often appear to be more concerned with how well they have done rather than how they can improve this tended to lead to criticism from students, parents and (on one occasion some years ago) school management. More recently I instructed students that they could have their grade only if they came to me to discuss the feedback – needless to say, few were motivated enough to follow up on this. I’m assuming that the unwillingness to discuss the feedback was as much to do with a fear of failure (they actually didn’t want to know the grade) so that their actions constituted a method of self-handicapping rather than genuine laziness.

The purpose of process-orientated feedback.

Feedback should be elaborated sufficiently to help the learner change erroneous knowledge components and, thus, improve achievement (Harks et al., 2014)

Feedback should offer information that contributes to the satisfaction of the student’s basic need to feel competent (Ryan & Deci, 2000)

Feedback, therefore, has both meta-cognitive and motivational components so content should reflect both of these. Hattie has suggested that process orientated feedback should ask the following questions:

Where am I going (learning intentions/goals/success criteria)?

How am I going (self-assessment/self-evaluation)?

Where next (progression/new goals)?

(Hattie, 2009)

Feedback

A Model of Feedback (Hattie, 2009)

These questions then feed into the other growth components I have discussed previously:

Growth Goals (Personal Bests)

Meta-cognition

Implicit Theories of Intelligence (Mindset)

Academic Buoyancy (day-to-day resilience)

Feedback needs to be ‘active’.

Effective marking and detailed feedback can be time-consuming, especially with A-level students who are often required to produce extended pieces of writing. I encourage my students to word-process essays so that I can add comments in the margin as well as general comments/targets at the end (and a grade when appropriate). This can sometimes mean that each essay can take up to 30-45 minutes to mark, comment on, set targets and grade and with class numbers ranging from 20 to 25 students… well you can do the maths. All this, of course, with the probability that most students won’t read any of the comments.

Microsoft Word allows the insertion of comments

Microsoft Word allows the insertion of comments – but will anyone read them?

Making feedback ‘active’ can both reduce the time taken to mark each piece of work and ensure that (most) students read the feedback. I recently came across this wonderful resource on Tom Sherrington’s blog (@headguruteacher) – I’m especially interested in test-driving the first suggestion.

reduce-workload

When feedback is executed effectively it can have a major impact on achievement. The EEF Toolkit suggests an increase of around 8 months but offers the following considerations.

FeedbackEEFConsider

Bringing it all together.

For me, feedback is one of suite of tools that combine to produce increases in achievement, motivation and study skills. No strategy exists in isolation and feedback is only one component of a larger whole. Effective feedback encourages a growth mindset by being explicit about ways to improve while those students who adopt a fixed mindset appear to be less responsive to feedback (especially when it calls into question their ability) and less resilience (buoyant). Meta-cognitive strategies aid active feedback while the explicit use of growth goals motivate the learner to exceed their personal best by acting on the feedback.

References:

Harks, B., Rakoczy, K., Hattie, J., Besser, M., & Klieme, E. (2014). The effects of feedback on achievement, interest and self-evaluation: the role of feedback’s perceived usefulness. Educational Psychology, 34(3), 269–290. doi:10.1080/01443410.2013.785384
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning. Routledge.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. The American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11392867

When fear fails to motivate

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the ways in which teachers communicate with young learners can have a significant impact on academic outcomes. For some years now, studies have supported the assertions made by Carol Dweck that the way in which we praise young learners dictates (or at least influences) the mindset those young learners later adopt – effort praise encourages a growth mindset while ability praise is more likely to result in a fixed mindset (see, for example, Lam, Yim and Ng, 2008; Halmovitz and Henderlong Corpus, 2011).

shouting-teacher

Recent research has also suggested that certain motivational strategies may be backfiring due to the manner in which such strategies are communicated. David Putwain (Edge Hill) and Richard Remedios (Durham) have discovered that so-called ‘fear appeals’ might be having the opposite effect on motivation than the one intended. Fear appeals are messages that in some way elicit fear in the student with the purpose of motivation. Fear appeals tend to concentrate on the consequences of success and failure, the importance of academic credentials (that is, qualifications) and the threat that lack of motivation will ultimately jeopardise future aspirations and limit choices (Putwain & Remedios, 2014)

Putwain and Remedios invite the reader to consider the following messages:

“If you fail GCSE maths, you will never be able to get a good job or go to college. You need to work hard in order to avoid failure”

“GCSE maths is really important as most jobs that pay well require GCSE maths, and if you want to go to college you will need a pass in GCSE maths. It’s really important to try your hardest”.

The first message constitutes a fear appeal because it’s based on avoiding failure. The second message, on the other hand, is based on success – it isn’t a fear appeal.

In their study (involving 347 year 11 pupils) Putwain and Remedios found that a higher frequency of fear appeals that were seen as threatening resulted in lower self-determined behaviour (so-called intrinsic motivation, of which I have written previously) and, consequently, lower examination performance. These negative consequences appear to be related to the ‘failure’ emphasis of the fear appeal.

What struck me the most from this study was the realisation that I was prone to fear appeals. Certainly, during this time of year when my sixth form students are heavily engaged in revision, I find myself using the terms ‘fail’ and ‘failure’ far more often than I would like (especially with ‘certain’ pupils). It also brought home the importance of communication and the way in which I communicate attempts at motivation – which is perhaps more symptomatic of my own anxiety over their possible failure than anything else.

Putwain and Remedios conclude by appealing to teachers to have a greater awareness of how those statements we so often use to motivate ‘can unwittingly promote lower self-determined motivation’.

References:
Lam, Shui-fong, Yim, Pui-shan, Ng, Yee_lam (2008) Is effort praise motivational? The role of beliefs in the effort–ability relationship Contemporary Educational Psychology 33 4 p.694-710
Halmovitz, K and Hederlong Corpus, J (2011) Effects of person versus process praise on student motivation: stability and change in emerging adulthood Educational Psychology 31 5 p.595-609
Putwain, D., & Remedios, R. (2014). The scare tactic: Do fear appeals predict motivation and exam scores? School Psychology Quarterly: The Official Journal of the Division of School Psychology, American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/spq0000048

 

What do we really mean by resilience?

Character, resilience, buoyancy, grit – these concepts have been floating about a lot lately.

In February the All-party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility published the document ‘Character and Resilience Manifesto’ while in the same month Tristram Hunt told conference delegates at the AQA Creative Education conference that character and resilience can and should be taught in schools (a point he returned to recently in an address to the Institute for Effective Education in York). In March Liz Truss suggested that mindfulness lessons should be introduced to improve resilience in schools, adding weight to a growing agenda on the importance of non-cognitive skills.

If I’ve learnt anything over the past few months it’s been that educationalists are concerned that our obsession with exam success is neglecting the importance of these non-cognitive skills. The politicians, I cynically assume, are just along for the ride. I’ve blogged about resilience before, only I don’t tend to call it resilience because resilience as it stands in the research literature isn’t always the same resilience as the one I’m interested in. More recently, the term ‘grit’ has also entered the non-cognitive skill lexicon, unfortunately it’s often seen as synonymous with resilience – which it isn’t. Ultimately I often end up discussing the wrong thing with people because what I mean by resilience and (occasionally) ‘grit’ just isn’t the same thing. And herein lies the problem.

Resilience, according to the literature, is the ability to overcome major adversity. Much of the research has focussed on the way in which certain at-risk groups cope with major negative outcomes. This isn’t necessarily what others think it is – what they mean is day-to-day resilience, what psychologists Herb Marsh and Andrew Martin call ‘buoyancy’. Academic buoyancy refers to individuals’ ability to cope with all those everyday challenges (like a bad mark on a test or an impending exam) which a more characteristic of the lives of students than those covered by resilience. Buoyancy assumes minor negative outcomes, the accumulation of which can lead to major academic underachievement. Like resilience, buoyancy is a dynamic process – it isn’t stable and is state dependent (in the same way academic self-concept is state dependent). What we mean by this is that a student might be confident in, say, maths where they display a positive self-concept and high buoyancy but less confident in English where their self-concept is negative and their buoyancy low. Self-esteem represents a global measure and doesn’t necessarily relate to either academic or non-academic self-concept – increasing a child’s self-esteem won’t make them more confident in English if their English academic self-concept remains negative.

So what about ‘grit’? Duckworth defines ‘grit’ as “persuasiveness and passion for long-term goals” which is distinctly different from buoyancy and resilience (although all three are related). Grit does appear to predict resilience, which in turn predicts buoyancy but grit remains a rather vague term with a research base much lower than either resilience or buoyancy. Hunt used the terms ‘grit’ and ‘resilience’ interchangeably at the IEE, assuming that the former was simply an American manifestation of the latter. Angela Duckworth (the American psychologist who coined the term), however, suggests that ‘grit’ is a trait (it remains relatively stable over time) – resilience and buoyancy (as already mentioned) are dynamic processes – they aren’t stable.

So, with what appears to be a number of misunderstandings and misconceptions, how does all this play out on the ground? Several schools have certainly embraced the ‘idea’ of resilience but have interpreted it in different ways. The Knowledge is Power Programme (KIPP), in the United States, is certainly one of the more successful ones. KIPP has identified 24 characteristics that schools should try and develop, while Bedford Academy in the UK has narrowed these down to ‘the magnificent seven’ (grit, zest, optimism, social intelligence, gratitude, curiosity and self-control) while Rossett School in North Yorkshire, UK concentrates on the ‘3R’s’ (Resilience, Reflectiveness and Respect). Marsh and Martin identify the 5C’s (or motivational predictors) of academic buoyancy (Confidence, Coordination, Commitment, Composure and Control), suggesting another set of characteristics that could form part of a resilience or ‘character’ intervention.

Measuring day-to-day resilience presents yet another problem. KIPP, Bedford Academy and Rossett all issue pupils with a score (dependent on the system used) as part of the reporting system. In the case of Rossett, this appears to be subject specific – correctly identifying resilience as state (not trait) based. However, research into resiliency and buoyancy tends to use self-completion psychometric tools and it would be interesting to discover if these pupils would rate their resiliency as similar to the teacher rating (and which one we should choose as ‘accurate’). Unfortunately, any systematic investigation into the effectiveness of these systems is proving hard to track down and outcomes measures don’t seem to exist.

I’m certainly in favour of programmes that help to improve resilience and improve character. The problems lie both in a common terminology and accurate measurement, in terms of progress and outcomes. If we can’t trust the tools and we can’t measure the outcome it all turns into a bit of a farce.