High Performance Learning

At the beginning of 2023, St John’s embarked on a two year journey towards becoming a High Performing School.

The first step on this journey is embracing the mindset that all pupils can become high performers.

We welcomed Professor Deborah Eyre to school for the launch of HPL to our current parents in January 2023. Professor Eyre is the founder of HPL and it is on her meta-analysis of so many educational studies that the programme is based.

What is HPL?

HPL, or High Performance Learning, is a framework of teaching based on research into the way children learn. It reflects what is known about advanced thinking skills and learning behaviours to help all our children develop ‘better brains’.

Research in neuroscience has shown many common characteristics of top performers across a variety of disciplines. These can be grouped into learner “thinking” and learner “behaviour”.

  • In the “thinking” group are characteristics such as meta-cognition, strategy-planning, generalisation, imagination, logical thinking, originality as well as the ability to use some skills automatically. HPL calls these “Advanced Cognitive Performance characteristics,” (ACPs).
  • In the “behaviour” group are characteristics such as empathy, confidence, mental agility, perseverance, practice and resilience. In HPL language these are our “Values, Attitudes and Attributes,” (VAAs).

These skills can be taught to all pupils: the evidence is clear that there is not a fixed level of ability amongst young learners, and that the brain is much more malleable than was once thought.

How do we do this at St John’s?

Much of what we already do at St John’s focuses on developing these learning characteristics. With the help of HPL this will become a more structured, whole school, approach.

HPL places emphasis on metacognition: getting children to think about how they think, and what strategies to use in different situations. It also asks them to reflect on the progress they have made and to take responsibility for their future development.

We promote the ‘growth mindset’ philosophy, which is a core part of HPL, and which teaches pupils that making mistakes is a constructive part of learning and something that we continue to encounter throughout life.

It tells those who are not yet performing at a high level (not yet) that their success is down to the focused effort they devote to any task, with good teachers to guide them. It also has a challenging message for those currently doing well but who have a fixed mindset – coasting to success is not an option.

The HPL programme

All teaching staff at St John’s are involved in a two-year professional development programme that will see the school become a High Performance School by the end of 2024, with aspirations towards securing World Class status in 2025.

Every child can aspire to success through a St John’s education.

For more information go to the HPL website: https://www.highperformancelearning.co.uk/ or, alternatively, read Professor Eyre’s book Great Minds and How to Grow Them (also available as an audio book).