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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.