Learning To Learn

Harvey Road Primary School’s

Learning to Learn

‘It’s not that I am so smart.  It’s just that I stay with the problem for longer!’

Albert Einstein

Pupils and staff at Harvey Road Primary School focus on how children learn through a programme we call Learning to Learn.  This sits side by side with and complements the curriculum that is taught at the school.

Inspired by the work of Professor Guy Claxton and his inspirational Building Learning Power, Learning to Learn is about:

  • Helping children to understand that becoming better learners can only take place through making mistakes and sticking with it
  • Developing students’ learning habits through an explicit learning language and set of practices
  • Giving children the understanding that learning is an active, lifelong pursuit

What are the principles behind this programme?

  • That making a mistake is NOT an obstacle but an opportunity
  • Staff focus on effort and strategy, not ability
  • Staff model the learning process with the children – that every successful learner is both inquisitive and fallible
  • That if children use one or more of the ‘4 R’s’ then learning obstacles can be overcome

The 4 R’s

The strategies children can use to overcome barriers to their learning fall within 4 areas, each beginning with ‘R’:

  • Resourcefulness (Working out what to do when you don’t know what to do)
    • Linking ideas together from many different sources
    • Using the right equipment
    • Asking questions and being curious
    • Imagining alternative opportunities
    • Following positive role models
    • Asking for help


  • Reflectiveness (Using learning strategies and being actively self-evaluative)
    • How can prior learning support you
    • Appraising the benefits of alternative avenues of exploration
    • Transferring skill and knowledge from other lessons/experiences to the present situation
    • Asking, ‘How did I overcome this last time’
    • Identifying when a peer applies one of the 4 R’s (KS 2 children only)


  • Readiness (Learning alone and with other learners)
    • Being willing to collaborate with others and work within a team
    • Actively thinking while listening
    • Consider positive criticism
    • Understand other people’s opinions and perspectives
    • Minimising distractions


  • Resilience (Sticking at it and not giving up)
    • Concentrating for increasing lengths of time
    • Take risks
    • Making mistakes and still keeping at it (persevering)
    • Being patient as you go through the learning
    • Enjoying and not being threatened by a challenge

To create a school and classroom culture which systematically develops children’s confidence and capacity to learn we nurture their learning muscles through in-class practices and whole school rewards.  These include interactive posters and certificates.  But what is most powerful are the frequent learning-focused conversations that uses the 4 R’s as a framework around which children can express and celebrate the journey of learning rather than just the outcome.