Using the idea of learning heroes – imaginary, famous, family and children themselves – to develop a personal awareness and understanding of learning power in every child and bring curriculum content to life.
Learning Power Heroes shows how four primary schools have embraced BLP by capitalising on every child’s ability to learn by imitation.
The schools have used the idea of learning heroes – imaginary, famous, family and children themselves – to develop a personal awareness and understanding of learning power in every child and bring curriculum content to life.
Full of practical ideas for schools to reflect on and imitate. The four schools featured here are representative of an ever growing number of teachers, learning assistants, learning mentors and local authority staff who are taking part in TLO’s Building Learning Power programmes – getting to grips with the principles of BLP and being encouraged to release their creativity in putting these principles into action in their schools.
“Building Learning Power is the only game in town.”
Headteacher, Secondary School
“The children’s learning, our teaching and the classroom environments are drenched in BLP. It is no longer something that we do, it has become part of what we are.”
Headteacher, Primary School
“Building Learning Power has re-informed my thoughts about how a good school can become an excellent school.”
Headteacher, Secondary School
About the authors
I have been involved in primary education for twenty-two years in this country and overseas as a teacher, a school leader, a consultant partner and most recently a SIP. I am passionate about children’s learning and committed to sharing this with children, other teachers and school leaders.
I have been head teacher of Nayland County Primary School since September 1999. Nayland was a good school when I was appointed and the challenge of taking an already successful school to new heights has been a delicate process. A cultural change that embraces risk-taking for teachers as well as pupils has been a key feature of improvement. In September 2005 OFSTED considered Nayland an outstanding school, describing leadership as ‘outstanding … outward looking and eager to get involved with any new initiatives that have something important to offer the pupils.’
‘Building Learning Power’ has offered all of our children the opportunity to take charge of their own learning and to have fun developing the skills that will keep them learning for life. The balance between the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of learning has enabled every child, regardless of age or abilities, to feel empowered and grow in confidence, motivation, self-esteem and power!
Maryl Chambers has spearheaded the development of TLO Limited’s Building Learning Power programme, helping bring Guy Claxton’s ground-breaking work to schools and teachers. Maryl is one of the founders of TLO, where she has applied her wide experience of designing learning-focused training to creating and developing the innovative programmes for which the company is renowned. She is co-author of many of TLO’s publications.
I began my teaching career in Liverpool where I taught for eleven years, spending eight years as Deputy Headteacher at St. John’s C of E Primary School in Sefton. In 2005 I joined Kent’s Advisory Service as a centrally based Advanced Skills Teacher. In this role I worked in partnership with teachers to develop creative approaches to teaching and learning; a major part of this being the implementation of Building Learning Power. I supported teachers, through modelling and coaching, in actively developing BLP in their classrooms. I went on to lead on the development of BLP, providing support to Advisory Service Teams, School Leadership Teams and teachers through the development of county-wide learning networks and a series of county conferences.
For me BLP has brought a new dimension to teaching and learning. Making learning to learn really explicit seems so obvious now and something I really couldn’t teach without. BLP enables children to find ways for themselves, it gives them confidence to have a go and increases independence. Seeing children take great strides in their learning and being able to explain clearly how they got there is extremely rewarding.
Foreword by Professor Guy Claxton
“We are built to learn by imitation. Evolution has equipped us with brains that are designed from the moment of birth to do what people around us are doing. When a baby sees you make a fist or a smile the neurons in her brain make her ready to do the same thing.
It’s through this kind of unconscious osmosis that children learn the habits of language and culture into which they have been born. Without any instruction from us, their brains start moulding themselves to the social world around them. They pick up the speech sounds and accents they hear and the emotional reactions they see being modelled. By watching us they learn to be frightened of what we are frightened of, to ignore what we ignore, to find funny what we laugh at.
And in just the same way they learn to learn in the way their parents, carers and teachers learn. If they grow up around people who love to debate round the dinner table they will imbibe the habits, rules and pleasures of debating. If they watch adults being experimental, inquisitive and tenacious in their learning these habits will rub off too. If their role models have no time for ideas, or become angry the minute their efforts are frustrated, that too is what they will learn.
So we must be careful to be at our learning best around young children, especially if they like or admire us, for their ‘heroes’ are the people whose habits they will find most contagious. Capitalising on this rubbing-off of learning habits gives us a powerful way of influencing children’s development — for good or ill.
It is not just us: learning heroes (and heroines) come in all shapes and sizes. Celebrities like David Beckham can be heroes not just because they are handsome and successful but because they overcome set-backs and put in the hard hours of practice. Characters like Gandalf, or even Tinky-Winky, can impress with their tenacity or thoughtfulness. A child’s grandmother can be a source of inspiration through her ability to invite calm discussion of a vexed issue in a stressed family. Children can be helped to see admirable characteristics in their playmates. And most importantly of all, every child can be their own Learning Hero, as they feed off the memories of their own resilience and resourcefulness.
This book shows how primary schools are capitalising on children’s powers of imitation, to help them build strong foundations for their own learning lives. I hope you will find much to admire and to imitate in these pages.”
Professor Guy Claxton