In recent years learning has taken on a new and very different mantle from that with which earlier generations were presented. In the past the teacher took to the stage and provided the information and knowledge upon which students were examined and schools were rated. Those examinations, from KS2 and SATs to GCSE, held the key to a school’s reputation and competitiveness and were major contributors to parental and student pressure to perform.


Over the years, however, the emphasis on learning more has given way to helping students to learn better and ultimately to become better learners. It is becoming widely accepted that there is more to learning than merely the absorption of subject matter. Learning to learn is found to create a number of dispositions that have their root in 7 recognisable dimensions and research tells us that those dimensions are dynamic, can be managed, and importantly, affect the way we behave throughout life.


So, nowadays learning is as much about understanding, and being aware of, how we learn as it is about what we learn. Each of us has a much more influential role in managing our habits, behaviours and performance, both economically and socially than once we believed we had. Thus, teaching and the way we conduct ourselves as learners needs to go beyond subject matter to understanding how each of us learns and, thereby, taking ownership for what has increasingly become known as our Learning Power.



Academic and operational research has conclusively revealed that learning is not an ability or skill but a latent energy that everyone has, can develop and manage. That energy is also acutely responsive to changes in circumstance and in environment.

The concept of Learning Power was devised by two leading professors at the University of Bristol, Professor Patricia Broadfoot CBE, a learning assessment specialist, and Professor Guy Claxton, whose interest is in the development of learning. It is Professor Broadfoot’s work with schools that isolated the 7 ‘raw building blocks’ that constitute Learning Power and underlie the creation of learning energy. This concept was further deconstructed by Professor Claxton and his team into a developmental framework that they have termed ‘the supple learning mind’.

The framework of the Supple Learning Mind captures the key psychological characteristics found to be of the highest value in helping students to learn, and thereby thrive, in a complex world.

  • The Emotional domain of learning … concerned with the habits and behaviours that determine Resilience
  • The Cognitive domain of learning … capturing Creativity, Critical Curiosity and Meaning Making
  • The Social domain of learning … Learning Relationships
  • The Strategic domain of learning … where Strategic Awareness and the embracing of new knowledge and experience to direct change, Changing and Learning


‘Learning is the eye of the mind’

In these days of uncertainty, change is unpredictable but inevitable. Offering every citizen of this newly fashioned world the opportunity to create a lifelong learning mind-set is our endeavour. Lifelong learning has become the critical success factor underpinning economic and social performance and productive global citizenship .