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A Conference for Lancashire Headteachers, 7 October 2015

It’s not every day you get to listen to an internationally renowned professor, learn about a highly significant research project, and laugh till your sides split at the tales of a Bradford headteacher. These three elements threaded their way through a special day for schools in the western shadow of the Pennines.

The North-west is fast becoming a learning power hot spot. Schools in Cumbria have conducted research under NCSL’s Closing the Gap research project, showing that meta-cognitive behaviours have a significant impact on pupil progress. Schools on the Wirral have been working steadily to become Gold Level learning quality schools. Schools in and around Lancaster have undertaken classroom learning enquiries and marvelled at positive changes in pupils’ learning. And on 7th October, at Lancashire Headteachers conference, over 60 teachers, headteachers and governors from the Burnley area became the latest to catch the learning habit bug. They gathered to be introduced to the why, the what and the how of learning power.

First on the bill was Professor Guy Claxton – the originator of the ideas behind Building Learning Power. Informative and entertaining, he guided participants to explore the real and long-lasting value of developing learning habits, with practical examples of how to start this off in classrooms.

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Vicki Hepburn Fish, acting Headteacher of Victoria Infant School in Workington, and head of the West Coast Teaching Alliance, told of her passion for engaging pupils’ learning power, and explained the inspirational learning journey of her own school and, subsequently, other schools in the Teaching School Alliance.

Leanne Day, a senior Building Learning Power consultant, unveiled the newly completed research project undertaken by the WCTA in conjunction with Building Learning Power. Having worked with the WCTA for over three years, Leanne was strongly involved in the research project, and was keen to share the results. Much to our delight, but not complete surprise, the research data showed that building pupils’ learning power has a significant effect on pupil engagement, understanding of content, deepening of learning, and that all-important mastery. [Watch out for further posts and articles on this research]

A variety of workshops gave participants opportunities to get closer to the actual practice of learning powered teaching. They went away with plenty of practical ideas about how to make a start in their own schools.

Last, but far from least, Bryan Harrison, Headteacher of Miriam Lord Primary School in Bradford, inspired and entertained participants with panache. Bryan told of his school’s learning journey: a journey beset with difficulty and inspired by triumphs. His hard-hitting messages were so much easier to take through laugh-out-loud stories and examples.

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After such an inspiring and varied day, local schools are raring to go with learning power. We look forward to tracking their growth and development over the coming year.


Organising conferences is hard work! So a special mention and thanks go to Suzanne Howard, Headteacher of St Paul’s CE School in Rawtenstall, whose passion for building pupils’ learning power led her to set up this conference for the benefit of schools in the area.


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