This guest blog by David Rowsell, Associate Director at High Performance Learning, looks at HPL and the post-lockdown school


“Schools of the future will need to think harder about what makes us first class humans”

- Andreas Schleicher, OECD, April 2020


It seems self-evident that schools will never be going back to ‘normal’. Partly this is down to the science of COVID19 and the absolute need for a vaccine or semi-permanent social distancing and other measures.

Just as importantly, the pandemic has exposed some truths about the education world of the last 20 years – in terms of mindsets, thinking, systems and routines which prevent staff and students from truly achieving the high performance of which research suggests they are capable.

At the same time, the best of ‘lockdown learning’, as observed in schools across the world, provides opportunities upon which the High Performance Learning approach is ideally placed to build, ultimately giving as many schools as aspire to it, the chance to be truly world-class.

The best of ‘lockdown learning’

Building on this through High Performance Learning

Student skills and qualities especially resilience and agency – many students in lockdown have displayed a very real aptitude in respect of managing their own learning and enquiry

The HPL framework makes explicit to all students and gives them regular and frequent opportunities to deliberately practice, the ways in which great learners think and the way they behave, particular in respect of self-regulation and autonomy

Teacher autonomy and agency – many professionals have flourished in the context of having to rise to the challenge of providing the highest-quality learning opportunities while remote from their schools.

The HPL framework provides the scaffolding for great learning – but honours the profession by giving all professionals the chance to choreograph this for their own contexts.

Professional collaboration – while achieving the above, teachers have also displayed wonderful examples of co-creating and sharing creative, innovative and inspiring teamwork to overcome the challenges.

The HPL framework foregrounds the importance of collaboration for staff, their leaders, coaches and students. This ensures that a common language of great learning and values becomes the most important strength of the school for all stakeholders.

Moral purpose and schools at the heart of their communities. During the lockdown, many professionals have taken time to reflect upon the core purpose of education for their students, colleagues, families and communities, distilling from great practice what matters most

The HPL framework makes explicit to all in the school community the essential but insufficient nature of outstanding academic achievement and sets this in the context of essential values, attitudes and attributes which students will need to lead a full, rich and purposeful life.

High challenge, high support – schools are emerging from a time when low support and high threat have been a real concern in terms of morale, retention, recruitment and performance. Lockdown learning has shown a path away from this.

The HPL approach to becoming world-class, foregrounds the kind of professional learning which features inquiry, deep learning and genuine growth and accountability measures which serve the experience of children rather than diminish it.

Professional voice – during lockdown we have witnessed the positive power of social media, professional associations and bodies and exemplar schools in promoting the resurgence of education.

HPL has built – and welcomes others to join – a family of 100 schools of astonishing variety across the globe who are involved in helping each other to be even better.

Schools across the globe during lockdown have shown an agency, verve and purpose which has been truly remarkable.

The HPL philosophy challenges all in the education filed to ask themselves “What can a great school also be?” and then coaches them through a framework which can help answer that challenge for all their students, staff and communities, and help them to become truly world-class.



so ceo

Professor Deborah Eyre is delighted to announce the appointment of Simon O’Grady as incoming CEO of High Performance Learning (HPL).

In August 2020, Simon will move to join HPL from his current position as Executive Principal of HPL World Class School Edron Academy.

Simon has extensive leadership experience having worked in schools in the UK and on four continents, including leading three outstanding international schools in Egypt, Malaysia and Mexico.

Simon has a deep-seated belief that all children are capable of great things and has an in-depth understanding of what High Performance Learning looks like in practice. This, coupled with his business acumen, will bring additional strength to HPL as it continues to grow and mature.

Founder and Chair of High Performance Learning, Professor Deborah Eyre says;

“We are incredibly pleased that Simon has chosen to join us to lead the HPL team as we grow the organisation. His experience is perfect for us and his commitment to our mission of creating schools with high numbers of high performing students is obvious from his work. I look forward very much to this next stage of our development”.

Simon holds a BSc Economics (LSE) and an MA in British Politics plus M level educational qualifications in educational leadership and management (University of Leicester and Havard University). He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

He has served on a number of Boards as a non-executive and currently sits on the Board of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS).

Professor Deborah Eyre will resume her role as Founder and Chair in August 2020. 

Originally posted on LinkedIn, this guest blog by Simon O'Grady, Head Teacher, outlines how the HPL process has been a key driver of school improvement for The Edron Academy, Mexico City.


The Impact of High Performance Learning on School Improvement

Our journey to become a HPL World Class School has had an overt and overarching influence in strategic ways. It has brought clarity to our mission, vision, and values; it has developed progressive measures of teaching quality and student success; and, it has impacted on student attainment. This article outlines how the HPL process has been a key driver of school improvement at The Edron Academy, Mexico City.

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Starting from First Principles

At the outset of our journey, we reviewed our basic educational principles, across all parts of the School. Through our school improvement strategy team, we have aimed to:

  • Set high standards for all our students by measuring, challenging, and eliminating within school variation (WSV).
  • Define the attributes and qualities of the students we are educating, which led to a review of Edron core values and an introduction of Edron core skills.
  • Challenge the conventional wisdom on expectations, via newly established professional learning communities.
  • Redesign curriculums to meet the needs of our students in order to embed those characteristics that support student success; this has led to a radically altered the curriculum for key stage 3 students with an associated abandonment of the grade culture.

Make the use of assessment data more effective by focusing on the formative and by evaluating progress through independent measures of value-added.

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From Principles to Practice

Our journey to become a HPL World Class School motivated change in five key areas: Strategic Planning, Teaching Quality, Student Success, Attitudes to Learning and Competitive Advantage.

1.   Strategic Planning

HPL has become a core aspect of school improvement planning at all levels, with associated performance indicators on student progress and attainment end of Key Stage, and qualitative measures of student wellbeing set against the School’s core values.

Edron Core Values and Core Skills were reviewed and revised, to establish a coherent language with school mission, vision, and values, consistent with HPL competences. Core Values were aligned with HPL VAAs and Core Skills were made consistent with HPL ACPs. To make it fun, we commissioned cartoons, using the Edron lion to visualise the characteristics of academic performance (ACPs) and the values, attitudes of attributes that underpin successful learning.

Evidence source: Edron Learner Profile, Edron HPL Cartoons

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2.   Teaching Quality

To embed HPL competences, the school designed new ways of improving teaching quality (aims, measures and outcomes) to meet its strategic objectives. Framed as Enabling Effective Practice, four key aspects were elaborated: High Performance Teaching, Student Progress, Contribution to Wider School life and Contribution to CPD. Teacher-led in spirit and substance, the process required evidence of HPL competences in planning, in assessment and in lesson delivery. Our professional learning communities were used to develop the key themes for pedagogical improvement; for example, embedding HPL concepts in learning and teaching.

Evidence source: Enabling Effective Practice: Policy & Procedures, Learning Walks, Staff Attitudinal Surveys

3.   Student Success

HPL required a radical review of core data for the purposes of measuring student success. The school had used qualitative measures on attitudes to learning with some success, and these were refined to be a basis for evaluating progress on values and attitudes. However, there was no history of measuring and using value-added at key staging points. HPL initiated two key developments: the introduction of GL Progress Tests in English & Maths to measure value-added in KS2 & KS3, and the investment in CEM value added measures at end of KS4. In addition, the introduction of new Assistant Head roles, focused on Curriculum & Assessment and Teaching & Learning, supported the mechanism for tracking of student success.

Evidence source: Evaluation of GL Progress Test Evaluations (KS2)

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4.   Attitudes to Learning

There has been an attributable improvement in attitudes to learning as a result of HPL. Over the period of its explicit introduction, student voice surveys for secondary students and primary pupils report strongly positive values. For example, 82% of KS2 pupils register the use of HPL in (most or all) lessons, 72% understand why HPL is being used and 49% note that HPL is helping them be better learners.

Evidence source: Edron Student Attitude Survey

Edron Home Learning (EHL)

The sudden closure of schools in Mexico and immediate introduction virtual schooling have tested student approaches to learning, requiring new levels of learner maturity, with organisation, perseverance, and resilience. Edron Core Values (Empathy, Determination, Respect, Optimism & Nerve) encompass the qualities needed for effective home learning on an extended basis. To support our students, our online lessons make explicit reference to How to Think & How to Behave. Edron teachers have made translations of HPL home learning guidance into Arabic, French, Mandarin and Spanish.

Evidence source:    Edron Student Attitude Surveys, Edron Home Learning

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5.   Competitive Advantage

Prospective parents are introduced to HPL at the point of admission, and they like it. This has been a positive force on admission, with a net gain to the school roll of 108 pupils (2018-20) and a mean increase of 16% in school roll per annum.

 Evidence source: Edron Admissions Data

New parents are introduced to Edron Core Skills & Values, consistent with HPL ACPs & VAAs and set within the Edron Learner Profile; this happens via our parent induction meetings, led by phase leaders. Parents are imbued with the conceptual language via the regular communication; for example,  with Star of the Week pupils in lower school are recognised for demonstrating the HPL skills and values during that week, within and beyond the classroom. Furthermore, HPL is explicitly referenced throughout the website in order to keep parents informed about the School's HPL journey.

Edron Talks (to parents) have been held on HPL, most notably with a fantastic introductory session with our HPL Coach, David Rowsell. Finally, we have survey feedback from parents for the purposes of accreditation. the impact that HPL is having upon their children in school.

Evidence source: Parent feedback, FaceBook on Edron Talks

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In sum, High Performance Learning raises expectations and outcomes. It is a powerful framework for school improvement and a progressive way of raising standards.




Your child’s school is now closed and all learning is online. Suddenly you have been thrust into the role of helping your child engage in virtual learning. You have no experience of it and it can be frustrating. It’s a big change for them and a big one for you. It may start as fun and a something of a novelty but that is unlikely to last. You are in it for the long haul. 

Do you wish your child would get on with their work without you nagging? 

Read our expert tips on building self-motivation. 


10 ways to keep your child motivated to learn

The good news is that there’s plenty we can do to encourage our children to stay motivated without having to nag them constantly or micromanage their schoolwork.

1. Play up the importance of effort. We feel greater satisfaction when we’ve achieved something than difficult than when we’ve done something easy. Remind your child how good it feels to strive and achieve, and celebrate their success when they’ve put in the effort.

2. Feed their curiosity. If your child has a passion for something – whether that’s maths, music or My Little Pony – they’ll naturally be motivated to do it, and that can help instil good habits. Be child-led and let them explore their curiosity, even if it seems a bit odd to you. 

3. Be curious yourself. If we want our children to be motivated to achieve, we need to demonstrate that behaviour ourselves. Children’s chances of success in a particular area are massively enhanced if their parents have a passion for it.  For example, if you want your child to learn the piano, don’t just send them to lessons: be involved with their practice, and let them see you playing the piano yourself.

4. Build their self-esteem. ‘Rather than saying, “Don’t worry, I know you’re not very good at spelling,” which compounds a lack of self-belief, build your child’s self-esteem by saying, “I understand you’re finding this difficult, but if we keep working at it, we’ll get there.”

5. Focus on the future. If your child is older, especially if they’ve started secondary school, you can challenge their lack of motivation by highlighting the importance of working hard. They need reminding that the work they’re doing now is preparing them for future success and that it’s worth putting in the effort now to have more choices later in life. This can be more effective in building motivation than pointing out short-term gains, such as a good mark in a test.

6. Know when to step back. It’s natural to feel frustrated if your child isn’t trying their hardest, but try not to slip into nagging and remonstrating. Sometimes children and teenagers feel highly charged and emotional at these times, they’re not in the mood for a rational conversation, so save it until they’re in a better frame of mind.

7. Support, but don’t take over. Metaphorically holding your child’s hand through every piece of work might make them get it done, but it won’t increase their self-motivation, so aim to guide and support without taking over. Success comes as a result of practice, and children are most likely to succeed if they choose to practise for themselves.

8. Celebrate effort rather than achievement. If your child struggles to motivate themselves, it can be tempting to offer incentives: for example, linking pocket money to good marks. ‘The problem with bribery is that it creates a mentality where children are just looking for what they have to do to “win the game”. ‘It’s better to reward the effort than achievement, whether that’s with praise and kind words or something concrete.

9. Ask the right questions. You can engender a love of learning in your child by showing genuine interest in what they’re doing in their learning. Make time to talk, and instead of asking what your child did, ask them what they learnt and what was interesting. This starts a dialogue, rather than simply getting your child to list what they’ve been doing.

10. Don’t crowd out fun. Yes, schoolwork matters, but it’s vital to balance it with time for your child to do what they enjoy. We have to exercise common sense: having fun doesn’t mean your child won’t have future success, so make sure they still get to go out with their friends and take part in things they enjoy.

High Performance Learning
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