Building Learning Power

Building Learning Power is an approach to learning that will be taught across our school and it helps the children:

  • Learn more
  • Learn better
  • Become better learners
  • Become lifelong learners

Building Learning Power helps develop a child who can face challenges calmly, confidently and creatively. It will give them the skills they need for their journey through school and into the real world. We want the children at our school to be lifelong learners.

It is based on the work of Professor Guy Claxton. Firmly rooted in Science and research, it suggests that there are several broad dispositions that we need to develop in order to become successful lifelong learners.

We can think of these learning dispositions as being like groups of ‘learning muscles’.  Just as we can build our physical muscles by the right kinds of exercise, so we can exercise our learning muscles to develop their strength and stamina. Developing the dispositions that make success as a lifelong learner equates to achieving a good level of all-round learning fitness.


There are four main learning dispositions:

  • Resilience
  • Resourcefulness
  • Reflectiveness
  • Reciprocity/Relationships

However we have decided to add an extra one that we feel is important for our children to develop:

  • Risk Taking

These dispositions are inherent in us all. However, they are not fixed at birth or when we leave school; they can be developed by everyone regardless of ‘ability’, social background or age. Each of these 5 learning dispositions has several learning muscles that need to be exercised regularly.

learning powered mind


RESILIENCE – being ready, willing and able to LOCK ON TO LEARNING

  • Absorption Learning Muscle: you become engrossed in what you are doing; you are unaware of time passing
  • Managing Distraction Learning Muscle: you know what distracts you, you try to minimise distractions, you settle back quickly after an interruption
  • Noticing Learning Muscle: you notice how things look, what they are made of, or how they behave, you can identify significant detail
  • Perseverance Learning Muscle: you are not put off by being stuck, you keep on going despite difficulties and find ways to overcome them, you recognise that learning can be a struggle

RESOURCEFULNESS – being ready, willing and able to LEARN IN DIFFERENT WAYS

  • Questioning Learning Muscle: you are curious about things and people, you often wonder why, you play with ideas, asking “How come?” and “What if?”
  • Making Links Learning Muscle: you look for connections between experiences or ideas, you find pleasure in seeing how things fit together, you make patterns
  • Imagining Learning Muscle: you picture how things might look, sound, feel, be; you let your mind explore and play with possibilities and ideas
  • Reasoning Learning Muscle: you create logical arguments, you deduce what might happen, you look for evidence

REFLECTIVENESS – being ready, willing and able to become MORE STRATEGIC ABOUT LEARNING

  • Planning Learning Muscle: you think about what you want to get out of learning, you plan the steps you might take, you access which resources you may need
  • Revising Learning Muscle: you are ready to revise your plans as you go along, monitor how things are going, change your plans when you’ve had a better idea
  • Distilling Learning Muscle: you mull over experiences, draw out useful lessons from experiences, think about where else you might use these lessons
  • Meta-Learning Muscle: you are interested in how you learn as an individual, know your strengths and weaknesses as a learner, are interested in becoming a better learner

RELATIONSHIPS – being ready, willing and able to LEARN ALONE AND WITH OTHERS

  • Interdependence Learning Muscle: you know how much interaction you need with others to assist your learning, you make informed choices about working on your own or with others
  • Collaboration Learning Muscle: you manage your feelings when working with others, you understand the ground rules of team work, you are able to work effectively as part of a pair or team
  • Empathy and Listening Learning Muscle: you put yourself in other people’s shoes to see the world from their point of view, show you are listening by eye contact and body language, hear feelings and thoughts behind someone’s words
  • Imitation Learning Muscle: you are ready to learn from others, notice the approach and detail of how others do things


  • Have a go: you are ready and willing to try something new
  • Make Mistakes: you realise that learning happens when mistakes are made and you learn from any mistakes that you make
  • Take Risks: you are brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and take a calculated, safe risk
  • Go for a challenge: you try a challenging activity rather than staying with a safe, comfortable one

Being stuck is the beginning of learning not the end!


Children will begin to use the language of learning. You may hear them say things like “I was resourceful today…” or “I was resilient when I…” Children will be taught to see mistakes and challenge as a normal part of their learning and they will be expected to try hard to overcome these challenges for themselves. Over time, children will become better at facing challenges and uncertainty in a calm, confident and creative way. They will also become better at understanding how they learn well and they will be able to recognise what they need to do to move their learning on.  This is the start of a lifelong journey, so remember; each journey begins with small steps.


The curriculum and the timetable will remain the same. Teachers will tell the children which learning muscles they will be using and will be encouraging them to use these with each other and on their own. The children will be encouraged to talk about their learning. When there are challenges, the teachers will not step in too quickly but give the children time to ‘exercise their learning muscles’. The teachers will also show the children that they are good learners, sometimes saying that they ‘don’t know’ but show how to find out. We will praise the process of learning rather than just the academic outcome. There will be certificates given out that celebrate the process of learning each week. This reinforces the idea that ability can be learnt and we are all learners at something. We want our children to know that making mistakes means you are learning something new.


Take time to talk to your children about their achievements. Homework can be a challenge for learners small and big! Discuss/consider what learning environment might be appropriate for your child at home. Think about internal distractions, such as hunger, tiredness, emotions, failure and put strategies/schedules into place to overcome these barriers. Give them time to talk about situations that are bothering them and allow them time to deal with emotions before settling to a task.

Depending on the age of your child talk about what you do to manage your distractions. A refreshment break? Music on or off? Physical activity? A change of room? Breathing exercises? Ensure that the environment in which they are doing their learning is conducive to learning.  Talk about the ‘learning muscles’ your child is using or could be using. Model being a confident learner (not a know-all). Help them to manage their distractions. Ensure that your child tries to be resourceful and resilient. Get your child talking about the process of learning. Encourage them to take risks and not worry about making mistakes.

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