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At King Edward VI Handsworth Wood Girl’s Academy our core aim is excellence for all which is underpinned by our vision, mission and values. We are a High Performance Learning World Class school which means that we believe in the HPL philosophy and framework. This means that we believe that all the students can be high performers, and we teach with these expectations in mind. We use HPL to develop our core values of scholarship, character and community which focuses on the 5 Advanced Cognitive Performance skills and the 3 Values, Attitudes and Attributes of the HPL framework.

What is the High Performance Learning (HPL) philosophy?

High Performance Learning is a research-based, pedagogy led philosophy that responds to our growing understanding of human capability. It normalises high performance for all students and uses a unique teaching and learning framework to systematically develop the cognitive skills, values, attitudes and attributes needed for lifetime success.

HPL is routed in a strong belief that there is ‘room at the top, if we systematically nurture more children to get there.’ (Deborah Eyre)

1. It assumes that high performance for most is a possible outcome.

2. It systematically builds the skills that enable high performance and creates schools with many high performing students – regardless of their performance on entry.

3. It expects schools to become increasingly proficient in obtaining this outcome for their students and this is their key accountability measure.

4. It depends on a professionalised teaching force using their professional capital to achieve this.

5. It requires schools to take the general principles, interpret them for their own context and create a unique version.

As a HPL school since September 2020 we have worked with our staff and students on how we want to embed the HPL philosophy and framework within our school and through our curriculum.

We started our journey with staff training and discussions on what ambition and high performance looks like.  We began by sharing our vision, mission and values with the whole school community which echo the philosophy of HPL.  Everything that we do within our school has our core purpose at the centre:

Core Purpose


Our vision is to work together to achieve educational excellence and fulfil personal potential.


Our mission is to unlock a thirst for learning for all so that students can successfully access a range of opportunities in an ever-changing world. To overcome barriers and embrace challenges to enrich themselves and our community.





Intellectual Virtues


Critical Thinking

Moral Virtues




Civic Virtues

Social Justice


Performance Virtues




What is the HPL framework?

The HPL framework ties together the Advanced Cognitive Performance Skills (ACPs) and the Values, Attitudes and Attributes (VAAs) across our curriculum and beyond the classroom.  We explicitly teach and foster the framework within all our curriculum areas and within our pastoral framework.  Our first step has been to make the framework unique to our school by creating icons to summarise the meaning of each of the characteristics and attributes.

Values, Attitudes and Attributes (VAA)


The ability to seek out opportunities to receive responses to your work; to present your own views and ideas clearly and concisely; to listen to the views of others; we willing and able to work in teams; to assume a variety of roles and be able to evaluate your own ideas and contributions.

Concerned for Society

The ability to know the contribution you can make to society to the benefit of those less fortunate; to demonstrate citizenship and a sense of community ethos and recognise differences as well as similarities between people and peoples; be aware of your own and others cultural heritage and be sensitive to the ethical and moral issues raised by your studies.


The ability to develop a belief in your knowledge, understanding and action; recognise when you need to change your beliefs based upon additional information or the arguments of others; deal with new challenges and situations, including when this places you under stress.


The ability to be curious; be willing to work alone; be proactive; keen to learn; show enterprise and independent thought; challenge assumptions and require evidence for assertions; actively control your own learning; move on from the absorption of knowledge and procedures to developing your own views and solutions.

Creative & Enterprising

The ability to be open-minded and flexible in your thought processes; demonstrate a willingness to innovate and invent new and multiple solutions to a problem or situation; adapt your approach according to need; surprise and show originality in your work, so developing a personal style; be resourceful when presented with challenging tasks and problems, using your initiative to find solutions.


The ability to take an objective view of different ideas and beliefs; become more receptive to other ideas and beliefs based on the arguments of others; change ideas should there be compelling evidence to do so.


The ability to demonstrate confidence; experiment with novel ideas and effects; speculate willingly; work in unfamiliar contexts; avoid coming to premature conclusions; tolerate uncertainty.


The ability to train and prepare through repetition of the same processes in order to become more proficient.


The ability to keep going and not give up; encounter obstacles and difficulties but never give up; persist in effort; work diligently and work systematically; do not be satisfied until high quality, appropriate precision and the desired outcome are achieved.


The ability to overcome setbacks; remain confident, focussed, flexible and optimistic; help others to move forward in the face of adversity.
Advanced Cognitive Performance characteristics (ACP)

Big Picture Thinking

The ability to work with big ideas and holistic concepts.

Evolutionary & Revolutionary Thinking

The ability to create new ideas through building on existing ideas or diverting from them.

Connection Finding

The ability to use connections from past experiences to seek possible generalisations.

Complex & Multi-step Problem Solving

The ability to break down a task, decide on a suitable approach and then act.


The ability to knowingly use a wide range of thinking approaches and to transfer knowledge from one circumstance to another.

Intellectual Playfulness

The ability to recognise rules and bend them to create valid but new forms.

Seeing Alternative Perspectives

The ability to take on the views of others and deal with complexity and ambiguity.

Critical / Logical Thinking

The ability to deduct, hypothesise, reason and seek supporting evidence.

Speed & Accuracy

The ability to work at speed with accuracy.


The ability to monitor, evaluate and self-correct.


The ability to work effectively within the rules of a domain.


The ability to move from concrete to abstract thought very quickly.


The ability to represent the problem and its categorisation in relation to more extensive and interconnected prior knowledge.

Strategy Planning

The ability to approach new learning experiences by actively attempting to connect them to existing knowledge or concepts and hence determine an appropriate way to think about the work.

Intellectual Confidence

The ability to articulate personal views based on evidence and where necessary defend them to others.

Fluent Thinking

The ability to generate ideas.


The ability to conceive something entirely new.


The ability to use some skills with such ease that they no longer require active thinking.

Flexible Thinking

The ability to abandon one idea for a superior one or generate multiple solutions.


The ability to see how what is happening in a particular instance could be extrapolated to other similar situations.

Our curriculum underpins the framework of HPL, where curriculum leaders explicitly teach a selection of ACPs and VAAs alongside the core knowledge.  To find out more please browse through the curriculum bookshelf to see HPL in action within subject areas.

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