Building learning power

Professor Guy Claxton discusses the importance of Building Learning Power and the effect this has on students’ learning.

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Leadership for learning power – Vision and action

It doesn’t work if you mandate change because schools are complicated and organic. They evolve through cultural change and you need to know what you are evolving towards and take charge of that. Commit to a Building Learning Power vision and encourage your staff to be inquisitive and collaborative. Results will go up because this attitude is contagious.

Leadership for learning power – Head pedagogical coach

Your role as leader is to be head pedagogical coach to shift teachers’ habits. People change out of a mixture of pressure and support but don’t muddle appraisal and judgment because people don’t experiment when they’re being judged.
Insist that every teacher tries something. Observe them teaching. Question them. Ensure there is peer observation and that teachers share and play with each other’s ideas.


Our most powerful influence on our students aside from home backgrounds is language. To get ‘buy in’ we need to translate the language of learning power aspirations into language that is fresh, appealing and accessible to students, their parents and teachers.

Getting kids thinking

The following varied learning routines explained:

  • Plus – Minus – Interesting (PMI)
  • See – Think – Wonder
  • Try Three Before Me
  • Brain – Book – Buddy – Boss
  • Independent – Collaborative – Teacher
  • Other People’s Shoes
  • Two Stars and a Wish
    • For the teacher
    • Cutting out the stars
    • About learning muscles

Talking about learning

A little thing that makes a big difference is helping kids learn how to talk about the process of learning. This involves teachers and students changing the way they speak together in class and is a form of habit change. As a school leader, let staff know that habit change is what you are asking of them and you need to support them to do it.

Results – what students say

In Ofsted Inspection reports in the United Kingdom, many students and teachers are moved to make comments about their progress with building learning power including from kids in low socio-economic status (SES) and special education settings. Professor Guy Claxton discusses a few powerful examples.

Results – test scores

Professor Guy Claxton shares Standardised Assessment Tests (SAT) score results from nine primary and eight secondary schools who have said that they are making progress with building their learning power. The data shows that it doesn’t matter if you’re a high achieving or a struggling school, the scores go up when students are actively building their learning power.

Love of reading

Lots of international research shows that love of reading is the biggest predictor of a person’s social wellbeing as a 30 year old. However, literacy programs aimed at improving test scores often have a detrimental effect on students’ enjoyment of reading.

Results Plus and Building Learning Power

Results PLUS and Building Learning Power developing

In this Power Point Professor Guy Claxton focuses on developing the attitudes that underpin success.

Resources Learning design Building learning power