Personal Development




Characteristics of a Good Learner

At The Meadows, we believe that personal development is a crucial aspect of learning: it has a direct impact upon all other areas of study. 

These pupils have the ability and willingness to do the following eight things:

Try new things 
Success does not come knocking on the door. We all need to go out and find something in which we can experience success. Finding something that we are good at builds confidence. Some pupils may not be good at the things they spend most of their time doing at school, which can make it even more important that schools have a broad and rich curriculum with something for everyone. As adults, however, we learn that just because we may be good at something doesn’t necessarily mean that we enjoy it. Successful people enjoy what they do. In fact, they love what they do. What they do gives them energy; work feels like play and time flies by. These are the lucky people who have found their energy zone. These people don’t need any external or material reward to motivate them; they do what they do simply because they love it. 

Work hard

This is something that most of us don’t want to hear. If we want to get really good at something there are no short cuts. Accomplishment is all about practise and hard work. Pupils need to understand the benefits of working hard. They need to know that work is good and not something that should be avoided. Many pupils become frustrated if they don’t accomplish something immediately. With a television culture of ‘overnight’ success, it is important to teach them that it may take hours and hours of hard work to become really good at something and that in real life success is not easy for anyone. 


Children are living in the most intensely stimulating time in the history of the Earth. They are bombarded with images from television advertisements, websites, games consoles and mobile phones. It has never been so important to teach our children how to concentrate. Of course, every teacher will tell pupils of the need to concentrate, but few will teach them how. 

Push themselves

To be really successful, pupils need to learn to push themselves. Most adults realise that if they want a healthier lifestyle, joining a gym doesn’t change much. We have to push ourselves to go to the gym. In fact, going to the gym doesn’t change much either if we don’t push ourselves when there. There are lots of ways pupils need to push themselves. For example, when they don’t feel like doing things, when they feel shy, when they think they might fail and when their friends are trying to stop them doing what they want to do. It can be really difficult to push oneself, but it is essential for success. 


In 1968, George Land gave 1,600 five-year-olds a test in divergent thinking. This involved finding multiple solutions to problems, asking questions and generating ideas. The test results were staggering: 98% scored at what he described as ‘genius’ level. He then re-tested the same children at age ten, by which time the level had declined to 30%. By fifteen years of age, only 12% of the children scored at the genius level. The same test given to 280,000 adults placed their genius level at only 2%. In his book Breakpoint and Beyond’, co-authored by Beth Jarman, Land concluded that non-creative behaviour is learned.

The test shows what most of us know: children have a fantastic imagination, which mostly declines with age. This decline is the enemy of success. To help children to be successful we need to help them to keep having ideas as they get older.


Successful people are always trying to make things better. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with what they have but they know that there is always room for improvement. They try to make good things great. Rather than making any radical transformations, however, they tend to make lots of small adjustments. This is what we can teach our children: great things do not happen suddenly. They are the result of lots of tweaking and refinement. We can all make things a little bit better. We can all take small steps to greatness. 

Understand others

Aristotle made the distinction between what he called sophia and phronesis. Sophia was wisdom of the world - what came to be called science. He spoke of the importance of understanding how the world works. However, he also stressed that, in itself, this was not enough for civilisation to flourish. Society also needed phronesis. This was the application of this wisdom in the service of others. Thousands of years later, Aristotle’s words are just as true. Successful people use what they know to try to be useful to others. Instead of asking ‘What’s in it for me?’ they ask, ‘What can I give?’ If we look at a successful business, it gives people things they value, at the right price. If we look at a successful public service, it gives people what they value at the right time. 

Not give up

Successful people have bad luck, setbacks, failures, criticism and rejection but they always find a way around these problems. Children need to understand that if they have bad luck, they are not alone. Most of us tend to focus on the accomplishments of successful people rather than their mishaps or setbacks. We need to tell children about the times we failed, were rejected and criticised but also how we bounced back. 


In order to develop personally, we believe that children throughout our school must achieve the following learning objectives:

•    To try new things 
•    To work hard 
•    To concentrate 
•    To push oneself 
•    To imagine 
•    To improve 
•    To understand others 
•    To not give up

Specifically, the children should master the skills below:

Learning Objective




To try new things

• Try new things with the help of others.

• Talk about some things of personal interest.

• Join in with familiar activities.

• Concentrate on things of interest.

• Try new things when encouraged.

• Enjoy new experiences.

• Join clubs or groups.

• Talk about new experiences with others.

• Enjoy new things and take opportunities wherever possible.

• Find things to do that give energy.

• Become fully involved in clubs or groups.

• Meet up with others who share interests in a safe environment.

To work hard

• Work hard with the help of others.

• Enjoy the results of effort in areas of interest.

• Take encouragement from others in areas of interest.

• Enjoy working hard in a range of activities.

• Reflect on how effort leads to success.

• Begin to encourage others to work hard.

• Have fun working hard.

• Understand the benefits of effort and commitment.

• Continue to practise even when accomplished.

• Encourage others by pointing out how their efforts gain results.

To concentrate

• Give attention to areas of interest.

• Begin to ‘tune out’ distractions.

• Begin to show signs of concentration.

• Begin to seek help when needed.

• Focus on activities.

• ‘Tune out’ some distractions.

• Search for methods to help with concentration.

• Develop areas of deep interest.

• Give full concentration.

• ‘Tune out’ most distractions.

• Understand techniques and methods that aid concentration.

• Develop expertise and deep interest in some things.

To push themselves

• Express doubts and fears. 

• Explain feelings in uncomfortable situations.

• Begin to push past fears (with encouragement).

• Listen to people who try to help.

• Begin to try to do something more than once.

• Begin to understand why some activities feel uncomfortable.

• Show a willingness to overcome fears.

• Push past fears and reflect upon the emotions felt afterwards.

• Begin to take encouragement and advice from others.

• Keep trying after a first attempt.

• Find ways to push past doubts, fears, or a drop in motivation even in challenging circumstances.

• Push oneself in areas that are not so enjoyable.

• Listen to others who encourage and help, thanking them for their advice.

• Reflect upon how pushing past doubts, fears or a drop in motivation leads to a different outlook.

To imagine

• With help, develop ideas.

• Respond to the ideas of others’.

• Respond to questions about ideas.

• Act on some ideas.

• Begin to enjoy having new ideas.

• Show some enthusiasm for the ideas of others.

• Ask some questions in order to develop ideas.

• Show enjoyment in trying out some ideas.

• Generate lots of ideas.

• Show a willingness to be wrong.

• Know which ideas are useful and have value.

• Act on ideas.

• Ask lots of questions.

To improve

• Share with others likes about own efforts.

• Choose one thing to improve (with help).

• Make a small improvement (with help).

• Share with others a number of positive features of own efforts.

• Identify a few areas for improvement.

• Attempt to make improvements.

• Clearly identify own strengths.

• Identify areas for improvement.

• Seek the opinion of others to help identify improvements.

• Show effort and commitment in refining and adjusting work.

To understand others

• Show an awareness of someone who is talking.

• Show an understanding that ones own behaviour affects other people.

• Listen to other people’s point of view.

• Listen to others, showing attention.

• Think of the effect of behaviour on others before acting.

• Describe the points of view of others.

• Listen first to others before trying to be understood.

• Change behaviours to suit different situations.

• Describe and understand others’ points of view.

To not give up

• Try again with the help of others.

• Try to carry on even if a failure causes upset.

• Keep going in activities of interest.

• Try to think of oneself as lucky

• Find alternative ways if the first attempt does not work.

• Bounce back after a disappointment or failure.

• Show the ability to stick at an activity (or a club or interest).

• See oneself as lucky.

• Show a determination to keep going, despite failures or set backs.

• Reflect upon the reasons for failures and find ways to bounce back.

• Stick at an activity even in the most challenging of circumstances.

• See possibilities and opportunities even after a disappointment.

• Consider oneself to be lucky and understand the need to look for luck.



Children will be praised for their personal development, receiving awards within our school Celebrations Assembly.