Building Learning Power

What is Building Learning Power?

Building Learning Power (BLP) is an educational philosophy that seeks to help young people become better learners, both within and beyond school education.

BLP aims to create a culture within classrooms and in the wider school that systematically cultivates attitudes and behaviours that enable young people to face difficulty and uncertainty calmly, confidently and creatively. This enables them to develop the resilience and independence to overcome barriers to learning and foster curiosity and interest in learning new and consolidating knowledge.

Building Learning Power’s vision is for young people – who will be creative, energetic, and enterprising – who, in their school years, will develop the values, knowledge, and competencies that will enable them to live full and satisfying lives – who will be confident, connected, actively involved, in their education (Claxton, 2002).

Students who are confident in their own learning ability may be more likely to be able to become actively engaged in their own learning. Active engagement is a term used to describe the notion that students learn most effectively when they are interested, involved and appropriately challenged (DfES, 2004). This term has its academic routes in the concept of active learning, which is considered as the process in which learners strive for understanding and competence, and seek out knowledge about the world (Piaget, 1972; Rogers, 1975).

Building Learning Power aims to prepare young people for an uncertain future. Today’s education system needs to be educating not just for exam results but for lifelong learning, developing wider skills and creating holistic and well-rounded learners. To thrive, or as some might say to survive, in the 21st century, it is not enough to leave school with an array of examination certificates. Young people need to have learnt how to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self disciplined and self-aware, collaborative and inquisitive, resilient and self-motivated.

Three Core Beliefs

Building Learning Power has developed three core beliefs that describes the core aims of it’s pedagogical philosophy:

  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 are good at, enjoy and wish to pursue in the future, whilst strengthening their will and skill to be able to pursue them.
  3. BLP believes this confidence, capability and passion can be developed since real-world intelligence is something that people can be helped to build up.

These three core beliefs are particularly relevant in societies that are full of change, complexity, risk, opportunity and individual opportunity for making your own way in life.

The Three Grounding Routes

BLP developed three grounding roots to give BLP a strong and stable foundation.

Root 1: Research into the nature of learning

In the last ten years or so a number of disciplines have come together under the banner of ‘the learning sciences’. Geneticists, psychologists, developmental psychologists, neuroscientists, sociocultural researchers and academic philosophers are shaping a new image of the malleability of young minds and BLP tries to make as much use of these ideas as possible.

Root 2: Practitioner research and experience

BLP is grounded in the reality of schools and classrooms, and what busy teachers find possible, practical and interesting to try out. Teachers are encouraged to see themselves as research partners in the BLP community of enquiry, and where possible to write up their experiments and small action research projects.

Root 3: Commitment to a vision of education

BLP is rooted on a vision of education that grows out of the real demands, risks and opportunities of the 21st century; is appealing and accessible to all young people, not just the academically ‘able’ or inclined; which values, in reality as well as in rhetoric, more kinds of outcomes than literacy, numeracy and examination grades.

So BLP may appeal to anyone who wants to know how to get better results and contribute to the development of real-life learners. It is for anyone involved in formal and informal education. It particularly appeals to those who want more than sound-bites and quick fixes; who seek a satisfying approach that leads to cumulative growth in students’ real-life self-confidence and ingenuity.

Building Learning Power teaches young people to become effective learners and well-rounded individuals and goes beyond just teaching students content.

For more information, please see the Building Learning Power website at


  • Claxton, G. (2002). Building learning power. TLO Limited Bristol.
  • DfES. (2004) Key Stage 3 National Strategy: Pedagogy and Practice – Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools – Unit 11: Active Engagement Techniques. London: DfES.
  • Piaget, J. (1972) Psychology and Epistemology. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
  • Rogers, C. (1975) Freedom to learn. In Entwistle, N. and Hounsell, D. (eds) How Students Learn. Lancaster: University of Lancaster.
  • Featured image by Incase


What are your experiences of implementing and creating a Building Learning Power culture and environment within your educational setting? What successes and difficulties have you encountered when exploring the BLP philosophy? Or are you not convinced by the BLP concept and challenge some of it key concepts? We would be keen to hear your thoughts so please feel free to comment below.

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