Grit, resilience and perseverance: why teenagers today need these 3 vital lessons

Cranleigh independent Senior School in Surrey teaches students grit and perseverance.

Cranleigh School provides a supportive and nourishing environment for students where they feel secure, can gain independence, and discover more about themselves. - Credit: Cranleigh School

“Modern teens lead demanding and busy lives,” says Simon Bird, deputy head at Cranleigh School, Surrey’s leading co-educational independent school.

“It’s important for them to be challenged, to encounter new experiences, and receive the emotional support they need to cope and thrive.”

Simon shares some of the challenges today’s teenagers face and how Cranleigh School is helping its students to overcome them.

Q: Why do students need to learn grit and resilience?

A: They need resilience to set out goals, push themselves further and try new things. Yes, students need to do well academically, but it’s easy to overlook the emotional education they also require. At Cranleigh School, we show students how to keep going even if they encounter setbacks, which encourages them to pursue their passions no matter what may come their way.

Maths competition at Cranleigh Senior School in Surrey

Opportunities like taking part in maths and sporting competitions encourage students to try new things, push themselves and develop new interests and passions. - Credit: Cranleigh School

Covid-19, for example, has thrown up new obstacles and difficulties for everyone. To come through the other side, we’ve needed to stay patient, problem solve and find new ways of teaching, working and socialising. The ability to remain positive and keep going is what’s helped us to get here.

Q: How can you help students learn perseverance?

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A: We’ve created an atmosphere where students feel safe, and are motivated and engaged with their education. We help our students to build resilience by:

  • Letting them know it’s ok to make mistakes

Teenagers need to be allowed to explore the world for themselves and learn that it’s ok to make mistakes. We provide a supportive and nourishing environment where they feel secure, can gain independence and find their voice.

We teach them how to work together, support one another, and develop leadership and teamwork skills. As a small school, we’re able to provide students with the one-to-one dedicated attention, academic and pastoral care they need.

  • Challenging them

Our rich and vast co-curricular programme offers ample opportunity for students to try new things, expand their horizons and perhaps discover a passion they never knew they had. We encourage students to throw themselves into everything and make the most of what’s on offer.

Students learn grit and resilience at Cranleigh School in Surrey

At Cranleigh School, students learn how to overcome obstacles, problem-solve and stay motivated to achieve their goals. - Credit: Cranleigh School

There’s something for everyone to enjoy, from music, drama, creative arts, sports and Duke of Edinburgh. They can also join several different societies and help organise and take part in local service and charitable events.

  • Encouraging them to push themselves

By fostering an engaging and interactive school environment, students are encouraged to get involved, push themselves to aim higher and independently research areas they are interested in.

Our boarding school is the ideal place for students to meet new people and find out more about themselves. They learn how to be considerate, responsible and mature individuals prepared for the world outside our rural haven.

Q: How does the curriculum you offer teach students to think for themselves and why is this important?

A: We teach using a method called Cranleigh Thinking, where students are shown how to take the knowledge they learn in the classroom and apply it to the real world. In the era of fake news, mass multi-media and polarisation of opinion, we feel it’s essential that students learn how to think critically and question the world around them.

Cranleigh School in Surrey offers a varied co-curricular programme for students

Students are encouraged to take part in as much as possible. Cranleigh School offers a varied co-curricular programme, including creative and performing arts, Duke of Edinburgh and many more. - Credit: Cranleigh School

Sixth-formers can also study an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) that they take alongside their other three A-levels. This is an independent research project that allows students to take control of their learning, discover more about a specific area they love, and manage their own deadlines and routine.

The EPQ can be essay-based, a live performance, an art piece, or even a model. We’ve seen students produce essays tackling issues like the death penalty, fashion dresses from paper, and one student even stripped down and rebuilt an entire motorcycle.

Many of our students do very well in this and the qualification they gain at the end is appealing to universities and workplaces. The EPQ demonstrates a wide range of skills, practical ability and talent in a specified focus area that is often relevant to subjects and jobs our students wish to pursue. The programme has been so beneficial, that we are now training other schools so they can teach it too.

Q: How can you apply to Cranleigh School?

A: We are a co-education independent school that offers boarding and day education for students aged 13 to 18. We’re located in the heart of the stunning Surrey countryside, where our students can discover the skills they need to create whatever future they want.

To apply visit or call the admissions office on 01483 276377.