How to Teach Learning-to-Learn in the Secondary School

By: Juliet Strang , Oliver Button , Philip Masterson


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 297mm x 210mm
Pages : 190
ISBN : 9781845900243
Format: Paperback
Published: November 2006

Villiers High is one of the first secondary schools in the country to introduce a fully developed curriculum designed so that students can learn how to learn. The results have been remarkable, with year on year improvements in public examination results and an increased student hunger to learn.

ASK: How to Teach Learning-to-Learn in the Secondary School is a serious exploration of the new science of learning. Full of tried and tested teaching and learning strategies, this book will transform the way any teacher sees their subject. All of the lesson ideas detailed in this book are easily applied to any curriculum subject and if used across different subjects, quickly become a transferable map which can help students make sense of their learning and progress rapidly at secondary school.

Picture for author Juliet Strang

Juliet Strang

Juliet Strang is Headteacher of Villiers High School, an 11-16 comprehensive school in Southall, West London. She has taught in five schools in different parts of the country, including as Assistant Headteacher at George Abbot School in Surrey and Deputy Headteacher at Cranford Community School in Hounslow before moving to Villiers High School in January 1997.

Picture for author Oliver Button

Oliver Button

Oliver Button is Deputy Headteacher at Albany school in Enfield and formerly he was Assistant Headteacher at Villiers High School.

Picture for author Philip Masterson

Philip Masterson

Phil Masterson won the Ealing Pride in Our People Award in 2004 for his contribution to the education of young people in the area.


  1. Effective, independent learners " which school would not wish for these? ASK provides a compendium of practical, down-to-earth approaches, strategies and materials to developing learning to learn. All schools could learn from this one school's journey.
  2. This is a stimulating report of practice which has promoted learning skills and coaching to raise achievement. With the new agenda to raise aspirations of lower achievers and disaffected / disruptive students this book has essential ideas for developing and sustaining motivation, understanding group dynamics and managing relationships. I would recommend "ASK" as a valuable resource within schools and colleges to promote the learning to learn skills of students at all levels. It is a pity that the authors were unable to delay the publication of this valuable account of practice until after the publication of the SAT exam results. This would have provided the quantitative data to support the qualitative accounts and convince the cynics.
  3. At a time of National Standards for teachers being revised, this book will be a real boost to colleagues who are interested in helping themselves and others (especially trainees and NQT's) to enrich their repertoires.
  4. ASK is based upon real work, done by real teachers in a real school. Villiers High School is a true comprehensive and the strategies discussed in the book have been implemented in their entirety in the school. Juliet and her team placed the improvement of student learning as the strategic intent of their school. Every child and adult in the school is part of a learning community where teachers learn from students as much as students learn from teachers. This book explains the practical strategies used by staff in order to create that learning community.
  5. This book is a serious exploration of the new science of learning. Full of teaching and learning strategies, tried and tested at Villiers High, a secondary school with a diverse student population and many backgrounds and languages, it should transform the way any teacher sees their subject.

    All the lesson ideas detailed in the book are applicable to any curriculum subject and, if used across different subjects, can quickly become a transferable map that can help students make sense of their learning and progress rapidly. Villiers High is one of the first secondary schools in the country to introduce a fully developed curriculum designed so that students can learn how to learn. The results have been remarkable, with year-on-year improvements in public examination results and an increased student hunger to learn.
  6. Learning to learn is high on schools' agenda and this book makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the subject

    It's a useful handbook of practice which is also a valuable addition"lots available from researcher/writers but very valuable to have practitioner point of view and this is a strength. School context very important in this and teachers working in this area without the support of a whole school SLT(unlike Villiers HS ) may find it difficult to make progress.

    The work does relate to a "work in progress' and might have been even more useful in a year or two's time when greater involvement of all teachers/all lessons could be included.

    Sometimes rich in examples from real teachers in real lessons but sometimes a bit simplistic and stating of the obvious.

    But overall a very valuable contribution to this area of metacognition.
  7. I can thoroughly recommend ASK as a practical and inspiring text to secondary school practitioners across all disciplines, not just the pastoral care department! The guidance and strategies outlined so clearly are an essential part of our school curriculum. As we know, the skills needed to be successful in the 21st century are connected closely with flexibility, resourcefulness and relationship building.

    A further reason to use the lesson plans and examples in the book is the fact that they have all been successfully piloted at Villiers School and as Juliet Strang, the Headteacher, writes:
    " the ideas for lessons published here are derived from many teachers working at Villiers and it is this that it validity and credibility".

    A very worthwhile resource that can be used for INSET and as part of staff development across the school or college.
  8. A very good book. It makes sense to teach students how to learn. I spent some time showing my 16-year-old how to research college tasks. The book has some great practical ideas too. Will recommend to my boss!
  9. Don't work harder "". Just ASK!

    You are a teacher. You work hard. Your lessons are well planned, carefully prepared and delivered with passion and enthusiasm"""". but how much are your students actually learning? probably no where near a decent payback for the effort you have put into it and why? probably because they need to learn how to learn.

    "ASK How to teach Learning to Learn in the Secondary School' is a practical handbook that not only introduces you to what learning to learn is all about but tells you how to implement it in both your classroom and across the whole school.

    The book is in three parts and starts with a section on the Why? What? and How? of learning to learn. It sets the scene, it details the 5 attitudes and 7 skills that students need to develop and it articulates the experiences of teachers in a typical secondary school involved in implementing learning to learn throughout the curriculum.

    Part 2 then takes each of the 7 skills (understanding self as learner, learning with and from others, planning, investigating, developing memory, thinking, adapting) and tells you how to teach them. There is an introduction, a skills and knowledge breakdown, learning episodes, a progression statement (where they are now and where are they going), feedback from teachers and a section on taking it further.

    As someone who is always interested in what is of direct relevance to me in my classroom, the learning episodes sections offer versatile ideas that can, given imagination and creativity, be easily adapted to any subject matter. For example to develop the skill of planning, imagination is a key component and part of the suggested starter activity is to show part of a picture for students to use their imaginations to determine what it is. This gives an ideal opportunity to link with pictures that are specific to your subject and could even consolidate prior learning.

    The "What Teachers say' section gives the skills a firm rooting in the real world of the classroom with fellow professionals giving you a snippet of how it is in their subject.

    Since part 2 tells you how to teach the 7 skills you wonder what part 3 will have to offer. It is entitled "Putting it all into Practice' and details ways of involving students in creating a learning to learn ethos and gives ideas for staff development including outline plans for whole staff INSET. The final chapter answers "Frequently Asked Questions' in a section on the leadership issue related to developing learning to learn across a whole school.

    This is a thought provoking and practical book on learning to learn that is essential for any teacher keen, not only to do their best for their students, but also to work smarter not harder.

  10. "a treasure-trove of material" I heartily commend this book to you. It is the real work of real teachers in a real school. They have forged an approach to the nation's most pressing education issue that translates the theory and rhetoric into classroom action. You can adopt their template or customise it; you can read this book as a stimulating case study or as a blueprint. Either way, it will enrich your thinking and practice and ultimately bring great benefits to your students.
  11. ASK is an important and most valuable resource every secondary school ought to study and apply in their work. It is vital that ASK messages become an absolute basis for educating future generations of secondary school teachers. Learning to learn (along with the ability to think creatively and to respond positively to change) is the urgency facing education that cannot be ignored and ASK shows how to do it.
  12. It is increasingly evident that to meet future demands, schools need to shift from places of teaching, to places of learning. This book offers useful tips & techniques which can be embedded across the full age range, (the section on pupils as observers contains materials all schools will find particularly relevant). It provides a supportive toolkit for schools wanting to begin a curriculum revolution. Long live the revolution!
  13. Learning-to-Learn is one the essential life skills that will equip young people for the uncertain world of tomorrow. This essential guide provides a simple framework and a range of down to earth, practical strategies that can be used straight away to help students gain their personal toolkit for learning. A must for all those who value lifelong learning.
  14. Another "brick in the wall' of shifting the forms of education from knowing for some to learning for all. A refreshing approach that argues the focus of control should be changed to meet the needs of learners who are prepared for a future of infinite possibilities. Enterprising, innovative, imaginative pupils will inherit the new world.

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