In the second of our series from schools adopting High Performance Learning, Principal Steffen Sommer, Vice Principal, Neil Thomas, and Assistant Principal, Uzma Zaffar, explain how (and why) Doha College – a through-school in Qatar with 2000 students – is implementing HPL.
Steffen: Doha College is known, and seen by many, as one of the leading British curriculum international schools in the Middle East, so the challenge is always about keeping that outstanding position, and continuing to raise our performance even further. When we heard about HPL we decided to make it a central part of our three-year development plan, and I know that it will make Doha College an even better place.
Neil: Uzma and I were chosen to lead the implementation of HPL in both the primary and secondary schools of Doha College and so we attended the HPL induction in the UK this September.
The value of the two-day residential course was huge. Professor Deborah Eyre and her team clearly explained the HPL concept, and highlighted to us the challenge – but also the clear value – of implementing HPL in our school. Following the course, we felt well prepared to communicate the purpose and mission of HPL to all our stakeholders back at school. The course also gave us practical strategies which we could apply as we planned how to introduce HPL to our colleagues.
Uzma: We also had a great time at the induction, meeting teachers from the other Pioneer schools, who were looking to implement HPL this year, and the HPL advisers. The focus on growth mindset was inspiring – it really chimed with us and what we were already doing with our primary and early year’s students.
Steffen: When they got back from the induction, Neil and Uzma got straight to work on launching HPL with teachers, students, and parents. There was a real feeling of excitement, especially around the parents’ forum. We had a special message from Deborah to show at the forum, and our staff, who have started on their journey of implementing the pedagogy of HPL, nominated two colleagues – one from Primary and one from Secondary – to talk parents through the mindset shift their children had gone through already. A video was also produced to show how HPL is already being implemented within the school (both of these videos are available to see on our website). The video includes clips of collaborative project work and enquiry based learning using iPads and other resources.
Steffen: One of the first things Neil did was to develop an implementation timetable. This came in the shape of a scheme of work with clear objectives, timelines and responsibilities – it really is first rate.
Neil: Our key focus at the start of the year was to introduce ‘Mindset Shift’ to all of our stakeholders. This is now well under way with the concept of a ‘Growth Mindset’ being introduced to students in all year groups, staff, via a presentation, and parents via the forum.
Uzma: Parents are really key to a students’ development, and they’re being encouraged to re-enforce a growth mindset mentality at home.
Neil: Another thing we’re making sure to do is to take a view of where we are right now in terms of how our practices and processes align with the features of HPL and World Class Schools. We’re carrying out the HPL ‘Pulse Check’ with our leadership team, and asking our department and year group heads to look at what they already do to teach the ACPs and VAAs.
We’ve invited our HPL adviser, Melanie Saunders, to run an INSET day at the beginning of January, so we can keep up our momentum and deepen our staff’s understanding of the concepts of High Performance Learning.
Neil: A lot of what we’re doing in terms of baselining our current practice will be really important for when we come to measure the impact of the implementation of HPL, and we’ll be thinking about what sort of evidence to collect when we do our Pulse Check.
Steffen: Although it’s early days, the impact is already being felt. The outcomes of the activities showcased at the parents’ forum and the steep learning curve for the children are really impressive.
Neil: As expected, the HPL concept has been taken on by both staff and students incredibly well and the concept is continuing to grow in stature. The primary school, in particular, has done a huge amount of work on introducing the concept.
Uzma: It’s great to be able to hear our students using common phrases such as ‘I can’t do that yet’.
Steffen: I’m really pleased with how HPL’s going: Doha College is a really exciting place to be right now.
Doha College is one of eight Pioneer Schools working towards the High Performance Learning Award. See their website for further information about their journey so far: www.dohacollege.com/high-performance-learning