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From our HPL Lead Teacher: World class learning

From our HPL Lead Teacher: World class learning

St Mary's is dedicated to developing students who are capable, confident and resilient young women.

In support of this, we have achieved and maintained World Class School Status via High Performance Learning (HPL), a pedological approach based upon the principle that all students are capable of 'High Performance' regardless of their current level of achievement.

Following an ethos of 'with the students, not too them' that reduces didactic teaching, students are encouraged to develop a range of 'thinking' skills like metacognition, problem-solving and creative thinking and 'attitudes' such as resilience, willingness to take risks and the willingness to listen to alternative perspectives.

Developing teaching expertise

This year, the focus for HPL has been upon developing staff expertise. Several staff have been following an HPL teacher certification programme to help them to develop the skills necessary to deliver HPL learning in their classrooms. They have been observing lessons, sharing ideas with the school community and collecting information for a portfolio of evidence, evaluated externally, to show that they are HPL Leaders.

Teaching staff were tasked with providing evidence to meet a range of criteria including their classroom teaching, leadership and pastoral support. One of the members of the programme, Maria Kakengi, Head of Design Technology & Textiles, reflects upon this process:

As a teacher, the impact on my teaching has been tremendous. HPL has challenged me to take a more holistic approach, encompassing both the core curriculum and essential life skills. It has impacted me personally as a teacher and the way I perceive my profession. During the past five years I have undergone a steep self-reflection journey and re-evaluated my role as an educator, leader and colleague. Reflection on the process has been instrumental in guiding my future work as a teacher. HPL has provided me with the tools to grow as a practitioner and has enabled me to make a meaningful impact on my students. 

Read more about Maria's approach in Design Technology

Dominic Divito, Head of Mathematics, notes the way that the HPL programme has impacted upon his classroom practice:

Placing a greater emphasis on how students learn instead of just what they are learning is beneficial across all of their studies, so this is something that I will continue to bear in mind in future and encourage others to do the same. Incorporating more time for students to reflect on their own practice will continue to be a bigger part of my lesson planning and I would like to develop more sophisticated ways of doing this in the future.

The High Performance Learning approach is supported by our wider values. It encourages students to be creative, to ask questions, to be curious and to see learning not as a series of examination hurdles to overcome, but a chance to ask questions, collaborate with their peers, refuse to give up and become expert cross-curricular problem-solvers.

These skills are vital for young people, and teachers at St Mary’s will continue to develop their classroom practice so that our students are armed with the 21st century skills that they need to thrive and take on the challenges of tomorrow.

Dr Andy Flint, HPL Lead Teacher

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