Tuesday 22nd August

The Power of Positive Feedback #Gratitude Ilana

An on-going challenge for me has been to find ways to convince the education world that we need to systematically empower, enable and equip young people to make the most of themselves, their education and other opportunities.  Knowledge and skills are important, but they are not enough. Thinking and behaviours make the difference and we can’t just expect young people to pick these up by ‘osmosis’. There are all those grades that could be higher with more intrinsic motivation and belief, that would give young people more choices. There is also the huge human cost for young people, staff sanity and society of failure and wasted potential. (As well as the huge financial cost of that failure!)

On 14thJuly 2017 I received this email from Ilana and I will be forever grateful to her for taking the time to write and allowing me to publish her email.

Dear Beverley, 

I am not sure if you will remember me as this email is quite out of the blue. My name is Ilana Foreman and I have just graduated from the University of Leicester. 

We met last June where I worked as a residential summer school mentor as part of the Leicester Enhanced Access Programme at the University where the students attended your equipped2succeed programme. 

In preparation for this summer school as a mentor, myself and the other mentors attended a training session – during this session you asked me what one of my goals was and I answered, ‘to achieve a good degree’. You then asked what I thought a ‘good’ degree was and I said a 2.1, and you asked why I didn’t push myself and aim for a 1st. At that time, I had a very negative mindset about my abilities, was very stubborn and honestly thought it was unrealistic for me to get a 1st.  

Throughout the summer school I attended the equipped2suceed workshops with the students and found them to be very inspiring and they genuinely helped me to change my mindset. I don’t think I realised it until a while after but that summer school was a key turning point for me and I’ve since stopped underestimating myself and learnt that setting realistic goals and targets really helps give me a focus and something to work towards.

A long story short – I entered my final year of University with a new determination and a belief in myself and my abilities and pushed myself a lot. I had comments from many people that I seemed happier, positive and more confident in myself. This week I have graduated from the University of Leicester with a 1st class BSc Psychology degree and am so proud of what I have achieved.

I guess the purpose of this email is to say thank you! I know the summer school was run for students and I was working as a mentor, but your workshops were really helpful and definitely helped me change my mindset and gave me the confidence and skills to succeed. So I just thought I’d write you a quick email to say thank you!

Best wishes, 


Ilana will be starting an MSc in Clinical Child Psychology at Anglia Ruskin Cambridge University in September. Alongside this she will also be starting a placement in the psychology department of a Prison to gain some forensic experience. She hopes to become a clinical psychologist, and is gaining work experience over the next couple of years before applying for a place on a clinical doctorate programme.

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Beverley Burton - interview about her book, 'How Can We Equip Our Children to Succeed?'