When Jack Hunt School’s Headteacher, Pamela Kilbey, heard HPL Founder Professor Deborah Eyre speak about the HPL philosophy, her interest was piqued. After reading the HPL book and discussions with her senior team, Pamela signed up for the year-long HPL Foundation Programme starting in September 2017. Fast forward just over a year, and the school is now a term into the prestigious and demanding HPL World Class School Award Scheme and observing a step change in how their students think, behave and perform.
Deputy Head Kate Simpson-Holley explains how the school started to implement HPL: “During the Foundation year, we made sure someone from every curriculum area was involved, to develop 15 or so real experts in HPL. We were able to experiment with specific classes across the key stages and in doing so saw the potential across the curriculum. The individual examples we gathered from different subjects were shared with the rest of our staff to show everyone the impact HPL can have.”
At the same time as introducing HPL to the school, and upskilling a group of teachers in the Foundation year, the team at Jack Hunt were looking at redesigning the Year 7 curriculum to break down the barriers between subject areas and reduce the number of different teachers a student might see in one week. To ease transition from Primary to Secondary, ideas were linked across subjects with a shift to more project-based learning, rather than having artificial barriers between subject areas. This proved the ideal vehicle to get HPL out more widely and into the curriculum, with a different HPL Advanced Cognitive Performance Characteristic (ACP) and HPL Value, Attitude and Attribute (VAA) coming into the spotlight each term. In autumn 2018, Year 7s undertook an intensive project on Remembrance, focusing on the HPL ACP of Linking and the HPL VAA of Empathy. This culminated in the production of exhibition standard work to be shared with the students’ families and VIPs at a special event to replace Year 7 parents evening.
“We weren’t sure how students would respond to this change, but they have embraced the challenge wholeheartedly and haven’t been intimidated.” Kate explains. “It has allowed them to ‘deep dive’ into a subject, working on it for a sustained amount of time and given them a sense of pride that their work would be shared with an external audience. They researched and made food from WW1, created stunning artwork and models, studied trench warfare and even learnt some military marches.”
“We’ve seen students motivated to work at home on related projects with family members, without being asked. One boy worked for weeks to build a replica trench in his garden shed with his grandad, complete with weapons. Another student worked with a family member who is an artist to create a stunning piece of Remembrance inspired artwork. Students have more self-esteem and motivation as through HPL, they know their teachers believe they can achieve and perform highly if they put the effort in.”
As well as underpinning the Year 7 curriculum, HPL is having a significant impact in the school’s vertical tutor groups. HPL materials are delivered in tutor time, and Year 7s – heavily immersed in HPL across all aspects of their schooling – are coming to the fore as experts, explaining HPL concepts to their older peers and confidently leading discussions.
“Some of the impacts of HPL have been quite surprising,” said Kate. “We recently observed 86 staff during tutor time when they were delivering HPL material, and we saw the highest percentage of outstanding lessons we’d ever seen in one audit. Teachers are questioning better, being more specific and really extending the learning, which is down to HPL. The ACP and VAA progression charts are particularly popular with staff who use them as planning tools for their lessons.”
“Year 7 students are more reflective across the curriculum and have developed their self-assessment skills. They don’t just say ‘I’ve done that, let’s move on’. They’re always looking to revisit their learning, re edit and continuously improve.”
The senior team at Jack Hunt are now finishing off the Year 7 curriculum and considering whether to continue it into Year 8, so that students have a firm foundation as HPL experts ready for their GCSE years.
Kate concludes: “HPL is definitely making us stop and think. We have a lot still to do to achieve the award but we’re embracing the challenges and are very pleased with how it is raising aspirations amongst our students and helping them achieve more than they thought possible.”
Jack Hunt School is vibrant, mixed, 11-19 comprehensive school in Peterborough. The diverse and multi-cultural school has 1,800 students on roll who speak over 55 languages. 26% of the school’s students are registered for Pupil Premium, rising to 54% if including those that live in the areas with the highest level of deprivation within its catchment area. It also has two hubs – one for physically impaired students and one for hearing impaired young people.