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