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

This will look different in every country and context in which we, as HPL, work.

Despite my knowledge of the HPL framework and many of our schools, I would not presume to tell you how best to serve your communities at this challenging time. In particular, I am not about to hold forth about the vital health and well-being issues that all of your staff, students and families will face. If I know HPL schools, I know you will do this brilliantly with intelligence, compassion and purpose.

I do, however, present a range of questions which might stir debate around the longer-term “lessons of lockdown” and how the positives of this challenging period might be built upon in the coming months.

The pandemic has exposed some truths and disrupted some thinking about the education world of the last 20 years – in terms of developing the mindsets, thinking, systems and routines some of which will enable staff and students to truly achieve the high levels of performance of which research suggests they are capable.

Five debates for the post-lockdown High Performance Learning school

  • Purpose: What is our purpose as a school? How has that vision been sharpened by the lockdown period? What is our moral commitment as professionals? What has the crisis shown about the knowledge, skills & values which matter most in our schools and communities, now and for the futures? 
  • Aspiration: What are we doing that promotes that aspiration? What else could we do if we did not fear judgement? What would be our educational equivalent of aiming to win the World Cup? What would we ditch, keep, grow and make even better?
  • Agency and autonomy: Amongst students and staff, the growth of autonomy and agency has been a marked feature of lockdown. How will we best capture this positivity, recognise and celebrate it, and take this energy, skill and momentum forward into the new era? How can we build this into our curricular a, our pedagogy and our professional learning?
  • Schools as civic entities: How can we continue to develop the concept of schools at the heart of our communities? How can we promote further dialogue on the future with our stakeholders and our community based on imagination, inclusion, care & consciousness? When is the time? What are the appropriate tools to encourage this thinking? How can we become even better at building our capacity through collaborative professionalism within and beyond the school?
  • Intelligent accountability: How can we become a school which is characterised by high challenge / high support? How can we ensure that accountability measures (standardised tests, inspection, performance review) serve our school and the experience of children rather than narrow and diminish it? How can we develop professional performance metrics which are teacher-led and feature deep learning, inquiry and genuine professional growth? How can we become a school which is even more clearly defined by our humanity, not our students’ grades or inspection outcomes?


How does High Performance Learning help?

The HPL philosophy, framework and culture is ideally placed to help our family of schools with these emerging opportunities.

Our framework makes explicit – through its accent on ways of thinking and behaving – the necessity of a holistic view of education, developing young people for excellent outcomes, via deliberate practice and real enterprise, adaptivity and empathy so that each of them has the vision, capacity and wherewithal to lead a full, rich and purposeful life.

This also applies to our approach to the development of all staff within our schools, honouring their experience, skills and values through coaching and validation, and encouraging authentic collaboration with parents and communities.

As a result, HPL schools will become civic entities; genuine activists, pioneers and system leaders in their communities, nations and the world of education.

The dreadful tragedy of the last few months notwithstanding, could there be a more exciting, purposeful and worthwhile challenge and a more treasured legacy for the courage and vision displayed by educators the world over these last four months?

David Rowsell HPL Associate, June 2020

High Performance Learning
Elmfield House
New Yatt Road
OX28 1PB
United Kingdom
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