It’s fair to say that the key to leading a fulfilling life is to develop the right sort of attitudes to other people, and to difficulty and uncertainty while you are young. Put bluntly, you have a better chance of feeling good about your life if you are resilient, adventurous, and self-aware.
In our developed world, young people spend the majority of their formative years in school. Within these schools there seems to be more of an emphasis on preparing young people for the next stage of formal education, rather than achieving a fulfilling and satisfying life. Policymakers are focused on raising conventional indicators of school performance – “getting more poor kids into good universities”, for example – rather than thinking carefully about the well-being of all those who will not get into university, or who may not want to go.
A vast majority of educators know that schools need to change their way of thinking and catch up with the demands and opportunities facing young people in the 21st century. It is a whole different ball game out there now, and schools must adapt or become an anachronism.
Those responsible for affecting system-wide change, and for the future of education, are imaginative, courageous, and resourceful school leaders – the people on the ground who can orchestrate the necessary kinds of debate, experimentation, and habit change.
If schools are to be dedicated to getting good results – not at any price, but in a way that builds students’ confidence, capability, and relish for taking charge of their own learning lives – then, clearly, principals need to know what the character traits of the powerful learner are, and take every opportunity to show colleagues and students that they possess and cherish those traits themselves. They need to model thinking aloud about tricky issues; having the confidence to express uncertainty and ask for help; and owning up quickly when things are not going as they had hoped.
There are thousands of such school principals who are working hard and smart to develop their school cultures. And there are many others who would like to be doing more, but who need ideas about exactly where they are heading and how to get there. That’s where Powering Up Your School comes in.
This practical book is for those who know that something is wrong with the learning system in their schools but can’t quite put their finger on the problem. It’s for leaders who know in their hearts that education needs to be about more than good exam results, good inspection reports, the trophies displayed in the foyer, and tidy, polite youngsters.
Drawing on the lessons learned by school principals who have successfully undertaken the Learning Power Approach (LPA) journey, this book aims to distil this wisdom and experience into a guidebook for their fellow leaders.
The LPA is a way of facilitating culture change throughout a school. The culture to be aspired to is one in which a clear and collective understanding of the valued, sought-after outcomes of education – of character strengths developed as well as academic successes achieved – drives everything in the school: the curriculum content, the structure of the timetable, the forms of assessment, communication with parents, and – most important of all – the pedagogical style of every member of staff.
Guy Claxton’s co-authors are all doers: school leaders who are already well on their way with the LPA. The questions they pose in this book are challenging; but the authors also reveal how they grappled with and responded to these questions in their own situations. In so doing they not only leave readers with some great ideas and insights, but also empower them to address their own situations.
Powering Up Your School offers readers the information, the personal messages, and, above all, the guided wisdom for making schools bedrocks of transformation. Guy, Jann, Rachel, Graham, Gemma, and Robert demonstrate this convincingly, and invite and encourage readers to join them on the journey which they have so carefully mapped out.