How do I improve results through an Academic Resilience Approach?

How do I improve results through an Academic Resilience Approach?

How to improve results key points:

• It’s a whole school approach
• A whole school approach means the whole school community
• There are tools to test, review and audit your pupils’ needs.

A lot of people think that turning schools around is purely about getting on top of things like behaviour management, the quality of teaching and learning, and detailed progress monitoring. Of course these things are all essential across the whole school – and will have a big impact on results for the majority of pupils in the school.

But a lot of schools struggle with how they can improve results – or close the gap – for the more challenged, disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils in the school. This is much harder and requires much more attention to detail.

Helping those pupils to do better than might be expected will require changing their experience in every aspect of school life. Making that possible requires properly adopting this way of working across the whole school.

What do we mean by ‘whole school’?

• People – that means everybody: pupils, parents and all staff and volunteers from the Head through to the caretaker and the cook!
• Strategy and leadership, including: governance, policy, senior leadership
• Systems and structure, including: Information management, behaviour systems, support structures, etc.

Why the whole school approach?

The evidence (pdf) tells us that previous initiatives and programmes (pdf) for schools which have focused on things like increasing emotional wellbeing, or even some of the school resilience programmes, haven’t been as successful as they might have been when they were not implemented across the whole school community.

We also know that they are often very generic and try to reach everyone, which is a great intention, but from that starting point they are then more likely to have an impact on the more advantaged pupils and less on disadvantaged pupils.

To get the best out of the resources you put in, the more you include disadvantaged pupils as part of your focus, the more everyone will get out of it.

Whether you are applying targeted or universal approaches to building resilience you must hold disadvantaged pupils in mind, and you must embed that mind-set and make things happen differently at every opportunity across the whole school from strategic planning to individual face-to-face interactions.

So, if you have been convinced you want to try this and would like a systematic approach, then why not take the following steps to promoting academic resilience in order to improve the results for those in school about whom you feel most frustrated.

We have developed a simple expansion to a project ‘Plan, Do, Review’ approach.

Identify vulnerable pupils

How do you ensure you know about not just those who are obviously struggling or challenged but also all those who are at risk? And how do you ensure that all staff ‘hold’ those pupils in mind?

Download the Pyramid of Need slide (ppt) to use in your school, and in the ‘Which pupils are we talking about?’ section you can find out more about who this will help.

Here is a short film about the Pyramid of Need and its use in Hove Park School, Brighton.

Plan: Audit the whole school

In this section we provide a range of tools and approaches to test out how well your school is doing against the evidence base for what actually works in promoting academic resilience with disadvantaged pupils. This will generate ideas and actions for your school development plan, and also help you gather your evidence for when OFSTED come calling.

For a guided approach to conducting an audit, with supporting tools and templates, see ‘Audit the whole school‘.

Do: What can schools do?

There are a number of things schools. We understand it’s tough for schools to keep going and not give up on the pupils that challenge them the most.

For some practical ideas, see ‘What can schools do?‘.


Changes across the whole school can be hard to sustain. Staff come and go, new initiatives and government directives arrive. It’s also worth knowing if your effort has paid off and where to put your energy.

Reviewing the activities you’ve undertaken against your existing data collection around risk and academic achievement will help you do this.

The Academic Resilience Approach

Our resources help any school establish systems to build ‘resilience approaches’ that support disadvantaged pupils over time through a whole school approach, will benefit all pupils from a school-wide approach to increasing academic resilience and offer ideas to help everyone in the school community play a part.

read more

About the Academic Resilience Approach

There are many school resilience programmes which aim to narrow the gap between pupils who do well academically and those who don’t. A lot of them are very useful, so why have we put this information together? Resilience programmes can be expensive – we wanted to offer something everyone could access for free.

read more

Audit the whole school

A systematic approach to understanding your school and identifying where and what you might do to better promote resilience can help the whole school community to look through a ‘resilience lens’ in order to close the gap for disadvantaged pupils or those facing additional challenges.

read more

Resilience Zap

Try a resilience zap if you want to get the following going across the school community: A basic level of understanding about building resilience and what it involves; Some shared language around disadvantaged pupils and support for them; Building of commitment to really go the extra mile with pupils who need it; Inspiring ideas based on evidence of what works.

read more

What is Academic Resilience?

What is Academic Resilience key points: Good educational outcomes despite adversity; We can spot the impact of academic resilience through individuals doing better than we might have expected; Promoting academic resilience will lead to better behaviour and results for disadvantaged pupils.

read more

How to use the Resilience Framework

The Resilience Framework summarises a set of ideas and practices that promote resilience. It is based on a body of research and practice development called Resilient Therapy developed by Angie Hart and Derek Blincow, with help from Helen Thomas and a group of parents and practitioners.

read more

Which pupils are we talking about?

All pupils cope with some adversity, and pupils who experience multiple disadvantages face greater challenges in schools. But all pupils will benefit from an academic resilience approach. There are many disadvantages and stressors that can have a negative impact upon pupils; these are called risk factors.

read more

What can schools do?

Focusing on just a few quick and easy activities can have an impact. A whole schools approach makes a bigger difference. Get a few things going, make sure you are doing them well and share them with the whole community. Evidence and practice based experience tells us there are a few key actions that you could take in school that would have impact.

read more

How can services support me?

We understand the idea of commissioning or buying in help from external services can be daunting and know that there are differences between commissioning and procurement. You can use this page to think about why schools need to buy in services, and how to ensure services are good enough.

read more

What about parents?

Every school knows that the more engaged a parent is in their child’s learning, the more learning is supported in the home. Some parents are dead easy to involve, eager to get your attention and are queuing up to talk to staff at every opportunity. But often the very families you would like to be involved more, can be the hardest to hook into school life.

read more

Academic Resilience resources directory

Here you can download the Academic Resilience Approach resources to help any school establish systems to build ‘resilience approaches’ that support disadvantaged pupils over time through a whole school approach. All the Academic Resilience Approach resources are free to download.

read more