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Using Growth-Mindset to Raise Standards for Success in East Africa

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

During a short-term contract in Uganda & Kenya in East Africa in 2018/19, I worked for a British organisation who developed a model to purchase local fee-paying schools and to raise them to International School standards, without raising the fees. I was based in Kampala, Uganda and was based at a primary and secondary school close to Entebbe. I also commuted regularly to Nairobi and Kisumu and worked with the local executive teams across a group of 12 schools.

My role as the as Education Development Director was to provide leadership, support, provide mentoring and coaching to the local executive leaders and to develop a strategic plan to raise standards, embed new local curriculum reforms and to increase the capacity of the organisation.

I achieved this by developing bespoke training sessions for all staff, building upon previous training delivered via the OLEVI – Outstanding Teaching Programme (OTP). I introduced and facilitated change management, to generate sustainable improvements. I framed this around the concept of Growth Mindset (by Dr Carol Dweck), which provides strong evidence that effort, resilience and failing are merely a tool to develop the skills needed to succeed.

In the school in Uganda, the pastoral system was failing. Students still experienced corporal punishment and their defiance was expressed in a whole school protest, 12 months prior to my arrival. There were no clear rules, expectations, rewards or sanctions between staff and students. To tackle this problem, I introduced the following: changed classrooms to being subject specific, rather than teachers moving between classrooms. Developed a new timetable structure and an automatic school bell to indicate the start and end of lessons. Repaired and redecorated dilapidated classrooms and worked with staff to develop subject specific classroom displays and resources. Introduced the Standards for Success and the Kisubi Promise programme for all staff and students, where clear expectations were shared in every classroom, positive behaviour and effort was linked to extra enrichment activities and opportunities to participate in work experience. The resulting impact has helped the School further develop, grow and prosper!

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