Soft Skills and Mental Toughness Research, 2017

18 Jan 2017

Research looking at soft skills development and an analysis of mental toughness at UK independent schools.

Pupils in independent schools are controlled, committed, confident and like a challenge, research into soft skills and mental toughness reveals.

The quantitative research by leading psychometric test publisher AQR International shows pupils at ISC independent schools have good attainment, wellbeing and behaviour and are more resilient, better at dealing with setbacks and more open to learning as a result.

Using a mental toughness model called MTQ48, the study - An Analysis of Mental Toughness at UK Independent Schools - included 9,000 pupils of all ages from 58 schools in England and Scotland.

This test, which defines mental toughness as the 'mindset that every person adopts in everything they do' gave an overall score of 4.26, higher than a figure of 3.94 recorded across state schools.

Set across four categories - the 4Cs - the highest score was recorded in confidence (4.47), a result also seen in state schools (4.49). While scoring lower, control (4.16), commitment (4.34) and challenge (4.19) were all higher than in state school pupils, significantly so for commitment and challenge.

Results from 32,000 state school pupils taken from data held by AQR

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  • Life control - I really believe I can do it. I believe that I am in control of much of what determines my ability to do things.
  • Emotional control - I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others.


  • Goal setting - I promise to do it. I like working to goals and will set goals for myself.
  • Achieving - I'll do what it takes to keep my promises and achieve my goals.


  • Risk taking - I will stretch myself and welcome new situations. I am not frightened of new things.
  • Learning from experience - even setbacks are opportunities for learning and I will try again if I have not succeeded the first time.


  • In abilities - I believe I have the ability to do it, or can acquire the ability. I have less need for validation from others.
  • Interpersonal confidence - I can influence and engage with others. I can stand my ground if needed. I will ask questions of others.