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Leadership, Redesigning Schools

How Mentally Tough or Sensitive Are You? #MTQ48

In Mental Toughness: Being the Best You Can Be I introduced our work on mental toughness.  You may alternatively know mental toughness as character, grit, growth mindset, learned optimism, learning powers.  Data on the mental toughness of young people across Blackpool reveals a high level of sensitivity and a very low level of toughness. 

For the first time this year we will collect data on all the secondary aged, sixth form and Year 5 & 6 pupils from across the Trust.  It’ll provide us with a baseline and hopefully reveal areas where individual or groups of pupils require support.  We started this development by giving all staff the opportunity to complete the MTQ48.

The MTQ48 (Mental Toughness Questionnaire consisting of 48 questions) is a high quality psychometric test which comes with user friendly reports.


The data can be aggregated to provide group data by school or by year group and is widely used for diagnosis and for evaluation.

Doug Strycharczyk (@DStrycharczyk) has kindly arranged for AQR to provide readers of this blog to have access to the MTQ48 free of charge until midnight on Tuesday 4th October 2016.  Please click here and follow the instructions for completion (takes about ten minutes). When completed you will be sent a  Development Report with your results. The data may be aggregated and used for research although you can be assured that no individual data will be identified.  If a sufficient number of people complete the MTQ48, using this link, I’ll present the aggregated data in a future post.

Having gathered all the pupil data our next stage will be working with staff to develop their skills in the use of a series of interventions before assessing again, next year, to see whether there has been any impact.


Development activity embraces the following:

  • Positive thinking
  • Visualisation
  • Anxiety Control
  • Attentional Control
  • Goal setting
  • The test itself with  good feedback

Working with pupils will be one strand of our much wider multi-year development programme.  The family you grow up in as well as the community also matter.

In Schools for Human Flourishing (2016) Libby Nicholas and Professor John West-Burnham, wrote about Malcolm Gladwell’s account of the Roseto community in his book Outliers.

 “Malcolm Gladwell … describes the Italian immigrant community of Roseto in Philadelphia that was probably one of the healthiest in the USA in the 1950s.  Roseto became famous when it emerged it was effectively free of heart disease and almost all other chronic illnesses, and equally free of psychiatric disorders.  The people of Roseto were not healthy because of their Mediterranean diet (long since abandoned) but ‘because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for them­selves in their tiny little town in the hills.”

The assertion was that “the people of Roseto were physically healthy because they had very high levels of personal wellbeing and happiness and that made them socially healthy; and they were socially healthy because they lived in an effective community. It might just be that they were healthier because they were happier – which seems to be an entirely appropriate model to influence the education of children.

Since there appears to be “a strong correlation between living in an effective community with high social capital, wellbeing, enhanced life chances and educational success” we need to build enriching staff, pupil, school and wider communities where people feel a sense of belonging.  They need to feel they are known and matter as individuals; they are capable of developing and will be supported as they do.  Mental toughness is an addition, not a replacement, to the work we already do.  My hope is that it will take our work to a new level; that is also our intent.


Nicholas, L. & West-Burnham, J. (2016) Human flourishing and educational leadership. In: Chambers, P. Schools for Human Flourishing. London: SSAT. 5-12.




  1. Pingback: Mental Toughness: The Results Are In #ThursdayThunk | @LeadingLearner - October 20, 2016

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