Learning Power

Learning Power (often interchanged with Learning to Learn in the education world) is the brainchild of Professor Guy Claxton, who has written many books on the subject as well as other passions he has in education.

The theory behind Learning Power is best described on the Building Learning Power website, where it is described as:

Building learning power is about helping young people to become better learners, both in school and out.

It is about creating a culture in classrooms – and in the school more widely – that systematically cultivates habits and attitudes that enable young people to face difficulty and uncertainty calmly, confidently and creatively.

Students who are more confident of their own learning ability learn faster and learn better. They concentrate more, think harder and find learning more enjoyable. They do better in their tests and external examinations. And they are easier and more satisfying to teach.

Building Learning Power prepares youngsters better for an uncertain future. Today’s schools need to be educating not just for exam results but for lifelong learning. To thrive in the 21st century, it is not enough to leave school with a clutch of examination certificates. Pupils/students need to have learnt how to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self disciplined and self-aware, collaborative and inquisitive.

Building learning power is based on three fundamental beliefs

  1. BLP believes that the core purpose of education is to prepare young people for life after school; helping them to build up the mental, emotional, social and strategic resources to enjoy challenge and cope well with uncertainty and complexity
  2. BLP believes that this purpose for education is valuable for all young people and involves helping them to discover the things that they would really love to be great at, and strengthening their will and skill to pursue them.
  3. This confidence, capability and passion can be developed since real-world intelligence is something that people can be helped to build up.

These three core beliefs are particularly relevant in societies that are full of change, complexity, risk, opportunity and individual opportunity for making your own way in life.

This challenge is nowhere near being met yet. We need to go beyond the wish lists of ‘wider skills’ or ‘key competencies’. What is needed has to be seen as a gradual, sometimes challenging but hugely worthwhile process of culture change by schools and habit change by teachers.’

Here is Guy Claxton himself to explain more:


Clearly, developing growth mindsets and building Learning Power inevitably overlap, as does the principles of high quality Assessment for Learning (AfL).  So much so, that when Northern Ireland introduced their current curriculum they developed an AfL strand which was supported by a very informative and, in my opinion, one of the most user friendly and valid practical guides.  The whole guide is an excellent read, however Resources 8 and 9 (page 73 and onwards) provide Learning to Learn skills in four different coloured bricks to represent the 4Rs of Learning Power: Resourceful, Resilient, Reflective and Reciprocal.  Although the bricks are designed for Early Years, I have used them throughout the primary years in order to visually promote the skills needed to acquire and build the 4Rs of Learning Power in child friendly and meaningful language.  You can find this excellent resource here.

I am currently reading Guy Claxton’s latest book as our school endeavours to create a curriculum and school which is committed to developing both staff and children’s Learning Power.


I hope to update you on the progress of our Learning Power journey soon.



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