Creating a Resilient Mindset Through Competition

Thu, 2017-06-08 17:21

East Durham College is committed to offering an outstanding and inclusive education, providing individuals, the community and the local economy with every opportunity to succeed. Students at East Durham College develop their confidence, self-esteem and work-related skills - developing good employability skills and enhancing their future opportunities.

Competition plays a vital role in supporting this and drives improved resilience and a growth mind-set in our students.


The college focuses on developing resilience and giving students the chance to aim for perfection through practice competitions as a key part of this focus. The college has used competitions to motivate and increase performance standards among those involved, as well as their classmates. The aim of using competitions in this way is to creating role models for others to look to emulate, driving up standards and create an upward cycle of success.

Competitions are included in the colleges teaching and learning strategy as a way of challenging students to take them out of their comfort zone and stretch them. With the objective of this producing wider benefits for the college in terms of student progression and attainment, increasing the take up of skills competitions and supporting staff in terms of their development.


The college encourages as many of their students as possible to participate in competitions as part of their course. At college, local, national and even international level, competitions play a vital role in raising standards, esteem and levels of expertise.

The north east region has, since the Skills Show emerged in 2012, fostered inter-college and regional skills competition events to bring together young people and employers to help students develop broader skills including building resilience and the ability to cope under pressure. The competition categories have also been aligned to the region’s economic skills priorities to help address issues around the skills gaps. Simone Collpitts Director of Teaching and Learning at  East Durham College said:

Simone CollpittsStudents and staff value highly the opportunity to compete at a local level, and aspire to participate at the national events. We continue to aim for greater links between inter-college skills competition activity and participation in WorldSkills UK national competitions and a closer fit with the economic skills priorities of the region. The North East inter-college skills competition is a great platform to prepare students and staff for the next level up at WorldSkills.”


For Simone “skills competitions have a hugely important role to play in driving up teaching and coaching standards and learner aspirations.” Students in the college are often set the task of undertaking self-assessments to use this as a benchmark to assess their progress against. They also work together in groups to develop and set the success measures and criteria for competitions, through to delivering a high quality piece of work which is judged and assessed against that set criteria.

More importantly the college has moved the emphasis for students away from winning to increasing participation. Students compete against their own personal best and improvement in their own work, improving their self-belief along the way. This approach has particularly supported those taking BTEC qualifications in Business and IT, where all learners have secured a minimum distinction grade. Competition activity has also supported the retention of students at the college – with the college having a 93% retention rate from September 2016.

Central to teachers embedding competitions across the curriculum has been developing their comprehension in this area. The College runs an induction programme linked to the growth mind-set in which lecturers are given an understanding of competition strategies, techniques and training.

For lecturers, the challenge of a competition brings fun and exciting new elements into teaching, learning and assessment, making the experience more involved for all concerned. College barbering lecturer Alison Scattergood embodied this philosophy when entered into a prestigious national barbering competition, to demonstrate to her students the importance of challenging and stretching one’s self.


The college currently plays a prominent role in organising local skills competitions, they are  looking to achieve greater integration with WSUK competitions and increase the take up of competitions amongst their students and the range of skills being entered into. Progress has already been made in this area with a greater increase in the number of students entering WorldSkills UK competitions and the number of skills.

Simone highlighted: “There are over 100 young people in training, as part of Squad UK, for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in 2017 and I’m sure the North East inter-college skills competitions will help increase representation from the North East in the future.”