Building Learning Power from the Grassroots Level up

BLP roots

As many of us know, Building Learning Power (BLP) is about helping young people to become better learners, both in school and out.

It 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.

‘Term on term, year on year, a BLP school breeds young people who are

more curious, more willing to take a risk and give it a go, more

imaginative, more creative, more thoughtful, more ready, willing and

able to learn with and through others. It’s developing this adventurous

spirit that counts’.

(Guy Claxon)

Within his Building Learning Power framework, for example, Guy Claxon proposes a list of 17 learning capacities grouped into four clusters called resilience, resourcefulness, reciprocity and reflection (Guy Claxton, Building Learning Power: ‘Helping Young People Become Better Learners’, TLO: Bristol, 2002):


  • Resilience covers the emotional and attentional aspects of learning, and includes perseverance, absorption (or flow), concentration (or managing distraction) and perceptiveness (or attentive noticing)
  • Resourcefulness focuses on the cognitive aspects of learning, including questioning, connecting (making links), imagining, reasoning, and capitalising (making smart use of resources).
  • Reciprocity covers the social dimension of learning, and includes interdependence (balancing social and solitary learning), collaboration, listening and empathy, and imitation (receptivity to others’ learning strengths).
  • Reflection covers the aspects of learning that are to do with strategic management and self-awareness. They include planning, self-evaluating (revising), looking for further application (distilling) and fluency in the languages of learning.


Many schools have been promoting BLP several years now. Some very successfully, others less so. I guess there are 2 key questions really – (1) Why bother? and (2) How does a school do this successfully? Rather than addressing these 2 key questions by trying to persuade you myself I thought I’d just include a link for each question to an article that gives much food for thought.

As for my own opinion on BLP, I feel that it is key to developing students as 21st century learners, both facilitating the development of a Growth Mindset and preparing them well for life after school. I also feel that it develops the teachers just as much as the learners. I believe that BLP is and integral part of Teaching and Learning.

In terms of how BLP should be rolled out in a school I think that 3 well-structured phases are key:

1) Share the vision – all staff at all levels need to be comfortable with WHAT BLP is and WHY it’s valued. #MakingLinks

2) Learn the language – all staff at all levels need to be comfortable with the BLP language so that this can be shared with students in lesson outcomes and so that students can start to take OWNERSHIP of the language.  #Perseverance

3) Plan for Progression – all staff at all levels need to move towards a way to assessing students (or ideally having students being reflective and assessing themselves) against BLP outcomes. #Planning

In terms of where I am at the moment with BLP:

I have been incorporating a BLP outcome into my lessons for a few years now, whereby students tick the outcome at the end of the lesson if they think that they have used the skill (almost ‘BLP bingo’ in a way). In recent months this moved towards me giving several different BLP outcomes and students ticking which one(s) they thought that they achieved during the lesson. This has allowed both myself and the students to ‘learn the language’ if you like. Most recently I have required students to grade (rather than tick) their BLP outcomes during lessons in order to start moving away from ‘BLP bingo’ and more towards some idea of BLP skills progression. I would put myself at ‘Phase 2’:



6 thoughts on “Building Learning Power from the Grassroots Level up

  1. Really like your ideas of a structured and systematic approach to roll out in school. A whole school buy-in is essential to BLP being sustained over time.

    1. A BLP relaunch for all staff is certainly in the pipeline. This has been the catalyst for this blog. This almost plants the seed for the next twilight INSET on the 10th December.

  2. It’s good that you have re-ignited the focus on developing learning habits prior to our Inset next month.
    This sits well as a natural progression from developing a Growth Mindset in students i.e. once students get the idea that it’s all about their effort levels, understanding and recognising different learning habits will help them know where specifically to focus their efforts.

    It will also be crucial that we get students motivated about the benefits of doing this.

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