“A belief is a thought you’ve agreed with for a long time, often years.”
Jacqueline Mary Phillips
The effect of oblong table:
I wrote a blog recently about how streaming at school can affect a pupil’s attainment and progression, and quoted a link from a deputy head who commented “Streaming at five set me up to fail, says deputy head” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-44289172
He quotes "Before I carried out the research I would have assumed that children who were on the top ability tables would be having the time of their lives and it was just us oblongs who didn't like it... but what I found was, whether children were on the top tables, the middle tables or the bottom tables, there was this universal feeling of pressure... related to that there was a fear of failure." He went part-time and embarked on a postgraduate degree in education at a University, but he was plagued by insecurity about his own abilities.
"I felt I didn't fit in. I didn't belong.” Looking back, he says he can trace it all back to the oblong table. An expert in the effects of ability grouping, says the vast majority of primary pupils in England are categorised according to their attainment in Maths and writing and labelled by their schools accordingly.
How are the 'thoughts believed' created?
Recent government research into the state of Mental Health in children and young people indicates that in some cases the symptoms can start as early as 7, “Notably, half of all lifetime cases of diagnosable mental health problems begin before the age of 14” according to Youngminds https://youngminds.org.uk/media/1428/wise-up-prioritising-wellbeing-in-schools.pdf
In the same article in Youngminds they report that “80% of the young people who responded to the survey said that exam pressure had a big effect on their mental health, whilst in total 96% of young people said that exam pressure had an effect on their mental health”
It is not surprising that with the continuous repetition of the beliefs that they are “at the bottom ability” perpetuated by labeling placed from the education system that these young people hold a strong thought believed about fear of failure. But it’s not just related to ‘bottom’ sets. As recent as last month I did the SEJ process with a student who told me she has not relaxed since her GCSE as to her ‘failure was not an option’. What a long period of time to carry this burden, no wonder mental health amongst young people is so rife.
We need urgent action to help these young people and it is up to each of us to support and nurture them by first looking at our own beliefs which may be influencing them. Secondly, we can give them tools and skills to build resilience and positive mental health, by offering the SEJ in all educational settings. If you want to create change why not sign up to our education campaign?
Dr M Howard-Kishi