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. 

Exhibition Work Montage cropped

“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.” 

Exhibition 1 Presenting

“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.” 

Exhibition 1 Drama

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 logoJack 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.

IMG 1577


We love Jumeirah College's idea to show their commitment to HPL with a very public display of the VAAs and ACPs at the entrance to their college auditorium. A wonderful way to keep them at the front of students' minds 


Castle Hill Primary School is unusual. It has grown from being a single site junior school in the heart of Basingstoke to a split-site primary school with a brand new campus a short drive or longish walk away from the main school on a large new housing development on the edge of town. The inspirational headteacher, John Martin, has chosen High Performance Learning as the unifying approach to learning across the two sites.

At Castle Hill, there has always been a drive for the very best, summed up by the simple aim on the front page of the school website, “Every Class, World Class.” Castle Hill thrives in what might be considered challenging circumstances with a fairly high proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals. However, the school has established a local, national and international reputation for both excellence and inclusivity and prides itself on its very close relationship with its community to which it attributes its success.

Castle Hill embarked upon the HPL Award last Autumn and has established working parties of teachers at all levels on both campuses to make sure everyone is involved with the plans. One of the key strengths of HPL is the shared language and Becky Willmouth, who is leading on HPL at Castle Hill, is keen to capitalise on this for her students, many of whom need to build a vocabulary to talk about their learning as well as developing the confidence to speak.

Castle hill primary school 3

Whilst the aim is the same, the approach has been different on each campus. Beginning with the VAAs, the older children on the Greenbank Campus identify the characteristic they have just demonstrated and stick their picture on the poster in the right place. They then talk with their teacher about how this has helped them progress and what characteristic they need to work on.

 In Key Stage 1 teachers and children have developed cards which show the VAAs and these youngest children are encouraged to select the right card and display it on their table to show that they have just demonstrated strength in a particular characteristic. The teacher is then able to move around the room and ask individual children to talk about the card they chose and what they did.

The classroom conversations generated by both these approaches are building the vocabulary of the children and giving them the language and confidence to talk with their teachers about how they are progressing and what strengths they need to develop. The working parties are pleased with this early progress and the school is introducing the ACPs to children in the same way.

Castle hill primary school 2

Sir William Burrough (SWB) Primary School is a state-funded Academy serving the local communities of Tower Hamlets. The school is in the top 3% of schools in the country for attainment across all subjects and our disadvantaged children are in the top 1% in all subjects. SWB has been recognised by the Mayor of London as an outstanding School for Success.

We have always been at the forefront of educational innovation, embracing programmes and methodologies that aim to develop children’s independent and critical thinking and encourage enquiry and investigation across all subject areas. Among some of the initiatives we’ve implemented are the You Can Do It! programme, the International Primary Curriculum, P4C and debate. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we decided to embark on the HPL Award. Following on from introductory training for all staff in January 2018, we identified an initial group of HPL Champions who have started implementing the framework in their respective years. Some of us have conducted lessons which specifically targeted selected ACPs and VAAs and the HPL language can be heard around the school (in classrooms as well as in school assemblies).

For example, in our International Primary Curriculum (IPC) programme, we are currently looking at history and chronology. Over a period of 6 weeks, children will be learning about historical time, interpreting events from the past, and looking into different aspects of history and their manifestations.

I decided to begin the theme with specific focus on two ACPs: connection finding and analysing. Children were divided into groups of four and each group received a mind map template and an envelope with 40 or so pictures representing different aspects of the past (historical figures, war/conflict, discoveries, buildings, art, etc.). The pictures were mixed up and children were asked to find similarities/connections and group them into separate categories.

As they were working, they started to name the categories (for example: ‘war’, ‘famous people’) which helped them further with the process. The task created some interesting teachable moments: where does one place Mona Lisa, who is both a historical figure as well as a famous work of art, and Hitler, who can be grouped in the war category as well as historical figures?

Photo of the history cards

Once the children had accomplished the task and had their mind maps ready, each group was asked to investigate a selected category by answering one question. (For example: What purpose has Art served through history? What have been the causes of different wars and conflicts?)

Children found the challenging lesson easier since they had been working with the concepts of connection finding and analysing before. I made use of this terminology throughout the lesson and offered practical advice to children on how to employ synthetic and analytical thinking skills.

Across the school, our next steps will include creating classroom and school displays featuring ACP and VAA terminology and consistently evidencing classroom implementation of HPL in our weekly planning. The HPL Champions will soon be sharing their experiences and best practices with the rest of the teaching staff during a weekly staff meeting. Long-term planning also includes introducing parents to HPL.
The children at our school have enjoyed the new challenges and are becoming better at recognising, naming and employing new approaches to more powerful learning! We are looking forward to sharing our experiences with other schools in the HPL community.  

by Marcin Zaleski, Year 5 Teacher

High Performance Learning
Elmfield House
New Yatt Road
OX28 1GT
United Kingdom
email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
phone book 2 +44 (0)1993 222408