Name: Stuart White
School: A through-school of 1400 students in China
Wanted to move teaching and learning on to a level they could all be proud of; needed a way to enthuse and develop a teaching staff from a wide range of different backgrounds; needed to make significant increases in student retention, in GCSE results and headline improvements in IB Diploma scores for all students.
“HPL's key premise that all students can achieve highly seemed a perfect match for a development programme designed to raise IB scores to extra-ordinary levels.”
Also, the school’s context – the mix of insecurity and confidence of a large ex-patriate community – meant the school desired to work on less easily measurable outcomes too.
“We wanted to be able to reassure parents who had taken their children across the world that they were in great hands. We laid a lot of emphasis on helping our students to become well-motivated and engaged independent learners, and the HPL philosophy had the potential to work well to underpin this."
Being introduced to HPL, started Stuart thinking:
“All this 'stuff' we do with children who are 'gifted and talented' – it's good – why don't we do it with all children? There's a lot more to it than this, of course, but this is the thought that set me off.”
They started by getting teachers to engage with their own pedagogy and that of others around them. They did this by working with the Advanced Performance Characteristics – discussing them and developing a language with which to talk about them in order to bring them to life for students and teachers. They applied the same approach to values, attitudes and attributes. Working with the primary school they found that they could use the same language throughout the school.
They also created displays and posters to go up in every classroom. They aimed to embed HPL inspired language everywhere – student planners, exercise books, badges.
“Professor Eyre's work had provided us with a theoretical underpinning, and we saw our role as making it part of our life – practical, simple, quotidian. We had a mission to get teachers and students 'thinking about thinking' every time they did anything.”
It became clear that the best outcomes arose from handing over control and letting teachers – and students – experiment. HPL concepts became permanently visible in the school. Primary classes created actions for the ACPs, and made short videos.
‘After a while, the approach to learning becomes part of the school's DNA – indeed this is a metaphor we used explicitly with staff and students – we talked about "our learning DNA ". We felt good about what we were doing however, on behalf of our students and their parents, so we were delighted to carry on.’
In terms of measurable student outcomes, student numbers, examination results, university and college destinations and parent and student satisfaction all showed year-on-year improvement.
‘In short, we loved the results. The school got better and better, and HPL must have played a key role in this’