July 7

Blackheath High girls and families deserve awards for their mental toughness

The other week it was interesting and timely to read new research indicating that girls who attend single-sex girls’ schools are generally more confident and more emotionally in control than girls in co-educational schools.

The new meta-analysis, by AQR International, delves deeper into its Mental Toughness research from 2017, together with new research undertaken during the pandemic. Mental Toughness has been defined as, “A personality trait which determines in large part how individuals deal effectively with challenge, opportunity, stressors and pressure…irrespective of circumstances” (Clough & Strycharczyk, 2015).  It is closely related to qualities such as Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and Angela Duckworth’s Grit; all of which have been identified in studies as important in the education and development of young people. Blackheath High School families will already be very familiar with “resilience” and related terms.

The research analyses the responses of girls in single-sex Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) schools, compared with girls in other schools. The findings indicate that girls in GSA girls’ schools generally possess higher mental toughness scores than girls in state and independent coeducational schools, particularly for emotional control and confidence.

The ‘mental toughness’ research also indicates that the pandemic may have exacerbated any gaps and differences that already existed, with girls who are more mentally tough potentially having an advantage in dealing with the pandemic compared with less mentally tough girls.

The research would indicate our emphasis on aptitudes and attitudes is the right one. Our new Mighty Girls Challenge, introduced in Year 2 this term and rolling out to Years 3, 4 and 5 soon, focuses on Ambition, Bravery and Curiosity, encouraging the girls to be determined, independent, creative thinkers and to recognise that they are exercising particular skills in completing tasks. And they can win badges because fun is important too!

Looking at the way our girls have achieved so much despite the disruption over the last eighteen months, they all deserve a Mental Toughness award and one for their parents too.


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