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High Performance Learning (HPL) is a mission-driven organisation, working with schools and teachers to change the face of education and deliver student high performance for the many - whatever their background - not the few. HPL is a global movement for change, for any school, any age, in any country. It operates in conjunction with any subject or curriculum.
High Performance Learning theory suggests that most students are capable of achieving the high levels of academic performance once seen as the domain of the very few and that the role of a school is help students make this a reality.
Each month we will focus on one of the qualities of a first-class learner:
Values Attitudes and Attributes (VAAs) - “How Great Learners Behave”
- Hard Working
Advanced Cognitive Practices (ACPs) - “How Great Learners Think “
Hard-working is a set of three behaviours which are needed to learn new things, to get better at them and to have a mindset that allows you to keep going when the going gets tough.
They include: practice; perseverance and resilience.
Research shows that mastery of anything does not come easily; it requires a great deal of practice–10,000 hours to become a world-class expert at something.
Practice works best when:
This is a willingness to keep going when the going gets tough. Perseverance is the single most important behaviour needed to become a high performing learner. If you can keep going through the hard learning times, despite discouraging experiences and setbacks, you have perseverance.
The ability to succeed academically comes not just from practice but from resilience. The life stories of the truly successful prove that they were never overnight successes, they had difficulties to overcome on the way up, but the ability to bounce back from problems was essential to their success.
In summary–you need to practise to get good at anything; you need to persevere when you are learning something otherwise you won’t learn it and you need resilience to learn because learning anything inevitably involves setbacks.
Creating the High Performance Learner is not just about learning how to think, it is about how to think responsibly and in a way that is effective in life and the workplace. The HPL student profile focuses on creating
enterprising learners who exhibit leadership attributes in addition to being able to perform highly in school assessments and exams.
Essential Components of Empathy:
Success is rarely the result of an individual working alone. Learners need to learn how to function in a team. They need to know:
∙ how to play the roles of both leader and follower
∙ how to negotiate putting their ideas forward for consideration while still listening to the views of others
∙ when to talk and when to listen
∙ how to give and receive help
∙ how to give and receive feedback.
Some children are naturally inclined to be collaborative and find working with others straightforward. They may actually dislike working alone and need to learn that skill! For others this is much more difficult. They may be less sensitive to the signals others are giving; they may be shy or, conversely, over dominant; they may think faster or slower than others in the group and feel frustrated; they may be uncertain regarding their strengths and the contribution they can make to the team.
Successful learners are those who collaborate when needed. For some this will always be their route of choice and for others it will not. That is fine. What is important is that you help them learn the necessary skills so that they can collaborate effectively as this will be required from time to time.
Advanced learning includes the ability to deal with ambiguity and with complex problems. In recent years there has been increased interest in how schools develop the character traits in students which will make them good citizens. Ample opportunity exists for the nurturing of concern for society both through specific schemes and more generally through the day-to-day life of the school.
Concern for society can begin with quite simple ideas such as caring about others. Later it can also be nurtured formally within and beyond the curriculum. Ensuring that individuals have a moral compass which guides their decision making is an essential component of education and of high performance.
For high performance to occur the child needs to believe it is possible for them to become high performing. Having this inner confidence is crucial as it sustains them when learning becomes difficult.
∙ Some children are innately confident and see setbacks as merely barriers to be overcome. Others are tentative and need to build the self-belief and confidence that they can master the task even it this does not occur at once. It is ok to struggle and it is ok to be wrong.
∙ In the same way, for some, critical feedback is merely a learning point whilst for others it is a personal disappointment which knocks their confidence. Sensitivity is required.
∙ Intellectual confidence and social confidence are not the same. Ideally you are looking to build both.
What do the Empathy VAAs mean for you as a parent?
∙ Ensuring that children are life ready and work ready is just as important as ensuring they pass academic milestones.
∙ If you want children to develop empathy you have to think how and when this will occur.
∙ Empathy is teachable and all children can learn to become more empathetic but progress is not age related. Some will demonstrate this early and some much later.
∙ Having concern for society and not just oneself can be nurtured in class.
∙ Intellectual confidence is vital for high academic results as students need to have the confidence to interpret questions on tests which are not presented in exactly the way they have been taught.
∙ Intellectual and social confidence are not the same thing. We need to help children to develop both.
In this video we want to share with you more information about Empathy and its importance for a successful learner. Moreover, you will learn about Empathy VAAs meaning for you as a parent.
There is a set of four attitudes in learning that relate to being intellectually agile. Being agile is about a desire to learn and an ability to use multiple approaches to achieve good outcomes. They are characteristics that enable a young person to become a more independent learner, and to contribute well in school and in life.
They consist of being:
This is the ability to be:
The child or teenager who has an enquiring mind is going to be good at learning. Curiosity is at the heart of all learning and is a key motivator to learning success.
Being willing to work alone matters. It’s important to be able to learn how to concentrate and focus on any work you do, and working alone can be a great way of learning how to do that. It also means you are responsible for the outcomes of whatever you do, which is important to the advanced learner. Being proactive in learning is a desire to learn more – the child who is keen to learn and enterprising around how they do that.
High performers are independent of thought, they don’t just follow the crowd and believe what the people around them believe.
This is the ability to:
Creative and enterprising works when you:
This is the ability to:
Open-mindedness works when:
This is the ability to:
Intellectual risk-taking is a higher learning skill. Risk-taking works when children and young people:
Curiosity is what gets people interested in learning and children are born with a great deal of it. But children also need to learn to think independently and develop their own views while remaining open-minded enough to hear those of others. They need to be smart in the way they learn things and know not to rely on the same techniques. So your children and teenagers need to be able to multitask with differing approaches to learning where necessary. And they need to learn how to take considered risks in their learning and decision-making or they will find it hard to make the leap to high performance.
Mr Mills talks more about agility in the video. Let’s watch it together!
This is a set of six characteristics about linking what you learn together.
The six characteristics are:
These linking characteristics help young people move forward securely and rapidly in their learning. They reduce the amount of time necessary for revision because learners are secure in their knowledge.
1) Generalisation – This is the ability to see what is happening in a particular instance and how it could be applied to other situations. Learners who can do this can see if a rule learned already can be applied to a piece of new learning. Doing this makes learning quicker and more manageable because if someone can spot the universal applicability of something learned they can apply it to something new.
2) Connection finding – This is the ability to use connections from past experiences to seek possible generalisations. Looking for and making connections is the start of making sense of new knowledge and information.
3) Big picture thinking – This is the ability to work with big ideas and holistic concepts. A key characteristic of students labelled as gifted is their ability to see the significance of what they are learning and how it connects to the wider world. It is motivational and encourages learners to want to learn even more, to take more interest in what they learn and to become more independent learners. Also, for some, showing how learning fits into a bigger world picture than school and exams is crucial if they are going to engage and succeed. It is a critical part of operating at an advanced level.
4) Abstraction – This is the ability to move from a concrete to an abstract thought very quickly.You no longer need objects to prove the rule. You can work with an abstract concept, a number or an idea that doesn’t need a physical presence. Abstract learning is essential to high performance.
5) Imagination – This is the ability to take prior knowledge and apply it to solving problems while thinking beyond the obvious. Imagination is found in all people, but like all the other thinking characteristics, it can be enhanced and developed. Creativity builds learning capability and imagination, and is vital for high performance.
6) Seeing alternative perspectives – This is the ability to take on the views of others and deal with complexity and ambiguity. Advanced cognitive performance includes the ability to deal with complex and sometimes conflicting ideas. There isn’t always a ‘right’ answer and a learner focused solely on ‘getting it right’ can be held back in developing their thinking and learning. It’s an appreciation that situations can be complex and ambiguous and an ability to see that different answers can be correct in different circumstances or in the outcomes we want to see.
In summary these are a set of characteristics in which learners link things they have learned. It is the ability to see learning as part of a larger scheme as opposed to a series of single events. It is the basis for individuals to construct meaning and understanding.
Extract from ‘Great Minds and How to Grow Them: High Performance Learning’ by Wendy Berliner and Professor Deborah Eyre
Mr Simon Mills talks about each of those characteristics in the next series of High Performance Learning videos.
This is a set of four characteristics that relate to thinking about thinking which consists of:
1 Meta-cognition–This means being aware of possible thinking approaches that might be useful in any given context and then knowingly using the one of your choice. It is at the heart of using and applying information and is a critical skill. It is using an idea or skill (or a range of them), to tackle doing something new. It means you are never at a loss in working out how to learn something new.
2 Self-regulation–This involves being able to monitor your own progress, to evaluate what you are doing and to correct yourself where necessary to keep on track. You are setting your own goals, planning how to achieve them and also working out strategies of your own to reach your goals as well as using recommended strategies. The ability is essential if you are to become an advanced learner. You are operating independently to plan, monitor and assess your own learning.
3 Strategy planning–This is the ability to approach new learning experiences by actively attempting to connect them with something you know how to do already which means that you know the right way to think about how to do the work.
4 Intellectual confidence–This is the ability to explain your personal views clearly, based on evidence you can articulate, and if necessary defend these views to people who disagree. Intellectual confidence is the ability to come to a conclusion on evidence yourself and then feel confident enough about it to defend your view.
In summary, this set of characteristics allows children to be aware that they have a repertoire of skills–an intellectual toolbox–to dip into and the self-awareness to know which tool is best to use for the job. This gives them confidence as a learner because no matter how difficult the job, they can think of a way or ways to tackle it.
Adapted from ‘’Great Minds and How to Grow Them: High Performance Learning’” by Wendy Berliner and Professor Deborah Eyre
This is a set of three characteristics about thinking logically and carefully. The three characteristics are:
In summary, advanced performers tend to be careful and logical in their approach to work even when being creative. They know how to think for themselves–some young people founder at university because they’ve never actually learned how to do that.
Let’s look at the three characteristics in detail:
1 Critical or logical thinking–this is the ability to deduct, hypothesise, reason and seek supporting evidence and is probably the characteristic most generally associated with academic success. It is what Sherlock Holmes does! It is the intellectually disciplined process of looking at the information you have gathered over time and using it to decide on a solution or response. Developing this characteristic helps you perform well in most school subjects, university and future life.
2 Precision–this is the ability to work effectively within the rules of an area of activity or knowledge. We all know what music played with the wrong notes sounds like–not that good. Being careless holds learning back; being precise is a significant factor in reaching high levels of performance.
3 Complex and multi step problem-solving–this is the ability to break down a task, decide on a suitable approach and then act. The more advanced learning becomes, the more complex it tends to become. To begin with, a child may be learning in small steps and can find it easy to link each new step to the last one. As learning becomes more complex and multiple skills are needed, this can present problems in moving on in learning as a successful and independent learner needs to. Learning how to create a plan for tackling a complex problem helps to make it manageable and realisable and this is a characteristic that can be developed.
From ‘Great Minds and How to Grow Them: High Performance Learning’ by Wendy Berliner, Deborah Eyre
This is a set of five characteristics focused on creative thinking and learning. The five characteristics are:
- intellectual playfulness;
- flexible thinking;
- fluent thinking;
- evolutionary and revolutionary thinking;
Let’s look at the five characteristics in detail:
1) Intellectual playfulness
This is the ability to recognise rules and bend them to create valid but new forms. Inventors do this all the time, as do composers and artists. Encouraging playfulness in learning is helpful because it is creative, motivating and not linked to convention. Intellectual playfulness builds learning stamina and helps to put an individual more in control of their own learning and be more confident.
2) Flexible thinking
This is the ability to abandon one idea for a superior one or generate multiple solutions. This requires the ability to think about two different concepts and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. The ability to think flexibly is a higher order cognitive skill and a key part of the toolkit for those who achieve high levels of cognitive performance. Intellectual confidence is needed in order to take the risk of thinking flexibly and not settle for the first answer. This can be taught and developed.
3) Fluent thinking
This is the ability to generate lots of ideas, to understand that your best idea might not be your first and to keep on thinking until you're sure you've reached your best idea. Adults at work who use brainstorming when they get together with colleagues to tackle a problem are indulging in fluent thinking. Fluency is about generating ideas, not evaluating them.
This is the ability to conceive something new. It is at the crux of innovation and unless children and young people are actively encouraged to be original, and not just come up with the ‘right answer’, they might keep their ideas to themselves for fear of being wrong. Something original doesn’t have to be a life-changing discovery, it could be a simple solution or new approach to an ordinary problem. Very little is completely original but everyone could make incrementally original discoveries which moves thinking on. Encouraging the confidence to break with tradition is a valuable attribute to nurture and is something the advanced learner does well.
5) Evolutionary and revolutionary thinking
This is the ability to create new ideas by building on existing ideas or diverting from them. This helps in enabling children and teens to move away from existing ideas towards developing their own. The advanced performer is unafraid of developing novel ideas that are different to existing ones. This courage needs to be developed and valued.
In summary, these characteristics help children cope independently when parents and other adults are not there to help solve problems. They offer the possibilities for solving problems we cannot even yet anticipate — particularly helpful in such a fast-changing world.
(Extracts taken from ‘Great Minds and How to Grow Them: High Performance Learning’- Wendy Berliner and Deborah Eyre)
This is a final set of just two characteristics that make use of all the other learning skills in a way that best ensures high performance. The two characteristics are:
In summary, these characteristics relate to efficient learning. There is much to learn as a young person and they can move on much more quickly in their learning if they learn to do some things so well that they can do them without thinking–automatically–because that saves them mental time and space.
Accuracy is critical to moving forward in the work they do as they learn because it speeds up the process of learning and makes it possible for them to reach high levels of performance while they are still at school.
1) Automaticity–this is the ability to use some skills with such ease that they no longer require active thinking. If you are an experienced driver, you are practising automaticity every time you get behind the wheel. You no longer have to think about changing gears or checking the mirrors or any of the other things involved in getting a car to move safely–that’s automaticity. For a child it might be learning their multiplication tables.
To practise skills and learn facts to the point at which their execution or application no longer requires conscious thought is of great value in reaching advanced learning performance. Automaticity frees up cognitive/thinking resources. Multitasking, so common in our fast moving world, requires a high degree of automaticity.
2 Speed and accuracy–this is the ability to work with accuracy at speed. If we learn from our mistakes rather than constantly repeating them we make faster progress. Accuracy is more of a factor than speed in making fast progress.
What marks out the high performer is that when they make a mistake they learn from it and adjust what they do in future accordingly. Over time they become increasingly accurate. Accuracy is what should be encouraged in learning.
Extract from ‘Great Minds and How to Grow Them: High Performance Learning’ by Wendy Berliner and Professor Deborah Eyre