Powering Up Your School

The Learning Power Approach to school leadership

By: Robert Cleary , Rachel Macfarlane , Jann Robinson , Guy Claxton , Graham Powell , Gemma Goldenberg


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 328
ISBN : 9781785834561
Format: Paperback
Published: May 2020

Powering Up Your School: The Learning Power Approach to school leadership – co-authored by Guy Claxton, Jann Robinson, Rachel Macfarlane, Graham Powell, Gemma Goldenberg, and Robert Cleary – is a treasury of top tips on how to embed the Learning Power Approach (LPA) in your school culture and empower your teachers to deliver its benefits to students.

The LPA is a way of teaching which aims to develop all students as confident and capable learners – ready, willing, and able to choose, design, research, pursue, troubleshoot, and evaluate learning for themselves, alone and with others, in school and out.

This approach also affords a clear view of valued, sought-after outcomes of education – such as the development of character strengths and the pursuit of academic success – and Powering Up Your School sets out a detailed explanation of how these can be accomplished.

It distils into a series of illuminating case studies the lessons learned by a wide range of pioneering school principals who have successfully undertaken the LPA journey, and presents a variety of practical strategies which will enable school leaders to make a positive impact on the lives of both their staff and their students.

These strategies are complemented by a wealth of insights into how school leaders can go about gaining clarity on their vision, achieve buy-in from staff, and foster a collaborative effort towards delivering good outcomes. Together the authors share their tips on how to adapt and refine school structures and teaching practices on a school-wide level, and on how to stimulate and celebrate student progress.

They also provide specific ideas for charting and reflecting on the journey towards building a learning-powered culture, framed in an appendix in the form of a detailed self-assessment grid.

Suitable for school leaders in both primary and high school settings.

Powering Up Your School is the fourth instalment in the Learning Power series.

Picture for author Robert Cleary

Robert Cleary

Robert Cleary has been the head teacher of Sandringham Primary School for nine years. Robert strives to ensure that school improvement work is underpinned by educational research, and in recent years he has built partnerships with organisations such as Whole Education, National Literacy Trust, London Teachers' Reading Group, and Maths No Problem. This approach has helped develop pedagogical understanding and create a professional, shared language about how children learn.

Picture for author Rachel Macfarlane

Rachel Macfarlane

Rachel Macfarlane is the Director of Education Services at Herts for Learning having previously been head teacher at three contrasting schools over a 16-year period. Between 2009 and 2018 Rachel was project director of the London Leadership Strategy's Going for Great (G4G) programme, which involved working with leaders of outstanding schools to share great practice and produce case studies for dissemination to London schools.

Picture for author Jann Robinson

Jann Robinson

Jann Robinson has been in post as principal of St Luke's Grammar School in New South Wales, Australia, since 2005. Jann holds a master's in educational leadership, is a member of the Australian College of Educational Leaders (ACEL) and the Australian College of Educators (ACE), and is a strong advocate of developing resilience in young people so that they can meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

Picture for author Guy Claxton

Guy Claxton

Guy Claxton is a cognitive scientist specialising in the expandability of human intelligence ' bodily and intuitive as well as intellectual ' and the roles schools play in either growing or stunting these capacities. A prolific author, his practical programmes for teachers are influencing children's lives in Ireland, Spain, Poland, Dubai, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Brazil, as well as across the UK.

Picture for author Graham Powell

Graham Powell

Graham Powell has over forty years' experience working in education ' holding various posts including head teacher, Ofsted inspector, and local authority adviser ' and has throughout his career maintained a passionate concern for the ways in which young people learn. He has worked with numerous schools, both across the UK and overseas, that have chosen to place the LPA at the heart of their vision for 21st century learning. Graham is also a distinctive and inspirational trainer and is the co-author of many books including The Learning Powered School and Pathways to Coaching.

Picture for author Gemma Goldenberg

Gemma Goldenberg

Gemma Goldenberg is a former assistant head teacher who led on curriculum design and professional development at Sandringham Primary School in Newham, East London. She is currently studying for a PhD, investigating the influence of the environment on how children learn, play, and interact.


  1. What we need in education is a way forward that drives through the middle of a stale progressive vs. traditionalist debate - and that is what Powering Up Your School provides.

    It is rare to read a book that combines the key features of successful school leadership without being mired in a “grand theory” or sitting in front of an ideological redoubt. Here, however, the authors recognise that there are no quick fixes, stress the importance of vision and culture, and acclaim inclusion. The school leaders who feature in the book offer sustainable, long-term models that can be adapted easily to the kind of society that students are growing up in, rather than first principles drawn from dated models.

    Powering Up Your School will be on the core reading list for students on my master's in education leadership at the University of Birmingham in the new academic year, as it combines research-based evidence of impact with leadership journey narratives.
  2. -‹Powering Up Your School provides an outstanding framework to enable school leaders to encourage, support, and - above all - enable their students to access the knowledge, practical skills, tenacity, and resilience that will help them to live fulfilling and happy lives. A key factor in the quality of the text is the credibility of the co-authors, who are committed exponents of the Learning Power Approach (LPA).

    The wide range of experiences and ideas discussed enable the reader to gain insight into the successes and areas for development with regard to the practical applications of the LPA. The focus is on improving schools' current systems and how making small tweaks to existing practice can shift learning away from dependency on the teacher towards an ethos of greater learner independence and personal responsibility. In this respect, the LPA gives equal measure to character development and academic success.

    A must-read for leaders and policymakers at all levels.
  3. Guy Claxton and his co-authors have written a remarkable book. Drawing on decades of rich learning from approaches such as Building Learning Power, the authors have created a powerful framework within which to think about how create a school culture that promotes what they call “results plus”. 

    This open, honest, and very personal book is not a one-size-fits-all blueprint of what leaders should do. Nor is it another set of generic leadership attributes or processes. Powering Up Your School is a book firmly rooted in the belief that a culture that enables every adult and child to develop powerful personal habits, can unleash huge potential in our next generation of leaders, teachers, and their students.

    Using powerful practical examples that don't gloss over how hard change can be, the authors set out what an effective change process could look like: developing clarity about the “why”; building buy-in through wide discussion; and creating long-term change that leads to deep, sustainable benefits. But this book is far from being a prescriptive manual. As the authors suggest, think “garden” rather than “model aeroplane kit”. It's about creating the conditions within which children and adults can all thrive and grow.

    Written by highly respected and successful school leaders, Powering Up Your School is a must-read for anyone who believes our role as educators is to enable each and every pupil to achieve more than just a great set of exam results.
  4. For those seeking to move beyond the paradigm of judging a good education by academic outcomes - and in Australia that would be inclusive of all independent schools that offer a liberal, holistic educational experience - this book provides practical, honest, and realistic insights into the journeys that school leaders have taken to transform their school's provision and equip students with the dispositions, skills, and knowledge that they will need in order to live fulfilling and satisfying lives.

    The authors understand that one size does not fit all, and so while driven by similar educational visions, each leader's pathway is different - thereby opening up a range of possibilities, approaches, challenges, and solutions for readers. As a result, the book abounds with collective wisdom that is very readable and accessible, and inviting of a collaborative and distributive style of leadership.

    I have no doubt that Powering Up Your School will resonate with all school leaders and provide inspiration for determined, resilient, and visionary leadership.
  5. When it comes to growing as a professional, the light-bulb moments and the most telling advancements often occur when research collides with practice. Powering Up Your School illustrates the benefits of such a combination, and the fruits of Guy Claxton's lifelong work are there for all to see in the real-life experiences of a range of school leaders driving their schools onwards and upwards.

    The stories which feature throughout the book are strong and are presented in a succinct and targeted way which is easily accessible. Furthermore, readers are given the opportunity to get to know the leaders and their stories over time and in context: the gradual reveal of their full stories is engaging.

    Best of all, the book doesn't simply paint a rosy picture where the world is entirely wonderful; instead, the authors communicate the real work that is involved in changing school cultures, practices, and, ultimately, student learning. It is real work that has its challenges, but we see in Powering Up Your School that it is very possible, in different ways and in different contexts, and exceptionally rewarding.
  6. Powering Up Your School deliberately and proudly conceptualises schools as centres of learning, rejecting all the distracting paraphernalia of narrow metrics and crushing accountability. It's about how we empower young people as learners ready to take their place in a complex world, and provides a powerful and practical mandate for teachers and leaders to make it happen. The ambition of the book, combined with the credibility of its team of authors, makes it a compelling read.
  7. Powering Up Your School is filled with insights, ideas, wonderings, honest reflections, and useful tools and resources. It is an inspiring read and a valuable practical contribution to current thinking about schools as learning organisations.
  8. Energising and refreshing in equal measure, Powering Up Your School is a down-to-earth and practical book for all those school leaders and teachers who want to help their students to become more powerful learners. The insights into how leaders can help to develop an improvement culture among both staff and students are particularly valuable.
  9. Educators in many countries and regions buy in to the philosophy of the Learning Power Approach, and the essential message in Powering Up Your School is that school reform is a kind of culture change that should be pursued by all educators who wish for the all-round growth of their students.

    From this book, school leaders will obtain detailed ideas about how to achieve sustainable development of their schools for generations to come. Readers will be convinced of the potential of the LPA and, via the various case studies, gain invaluable tips on how to accomplish it. They will also learn how best to cultivate the approach in their own school setting by responding to the invitations to reflect that are scattered throughout.

    School leaders worldwide will learn a lot from this book.
  10. Grounded in research, rooted in practice, and oriented to the future, Powering Up Your School is an excellent guide to help school leaders bring about much-needed changes in education. In particular, it offers a combination of professional guidance and personal reflections to leaders interested in implementing powerful approaches to learning.

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