Principles of Learning for Life

At the very core of the framework is a belief that achieving ‘good grades’ does not need to be in tension with the wider development of more conceptual, creative and critical ways of thinking. The Learning for Life framework seeks to support ways of teaching that achieves “higher grades and positive and empower attitudes towards learning itself” (Claxton, 2018). The framework is built around a belief that there are certain attitudes, stances and approaches to learning that good learners adopt. Claxton’s research prompts us to consider that learning is not a secret formula or merely an innate gift that you are either good at or not. It is a collection of skills, habits and attitudes that can be emulated, learned and refined. When a student increases their learning power, they equip themselves to make sense of our complex, ever-changing culture and they develop empathy and competence.

Our Learning for Life framework is grounded in the school’s mission statement: a Life of Learning, Service and Purpose to the Glory of God. This is symbolically represented by building upon our school’s logo of a tree. The school’s mission is its roots, the very basis of our framework that nourishes it and causes it to grow. The framework itself encompasses five domains; Renewal, Resourceful, Resilient, Relational and Reflective. At Shire Christian School, we believe that these domains are the areas through which we seek to nurture our students holistically – academically, socially and spiritually. Within each domain are dispositions. These are the beliefs, approaches and skills that we will develop in our students in order to become a better learner. After workshopping these concepts with staff and executive; our framework encompasses the following tenets:


Our most important and core domain is our spiritual domain. This will not be taught as a stand-alone domain, rather, it shapes and directs all that we do at the school and is the nucleus for each of the other domains
(Resilient, Relational, Resourceful and Reflective).



A resilient learner is ready, willing and able to immerse themselves in the learning process and persevere when challenged. They are bold and courageous learners who demonstrate grit, and are willing to apply a range of learning strategies.

Experimenting, persevering, immersing, adapting.


A relational learner is ready, willing and able to seek out, value and consider different perspectives and strategies. They effectively express their own ideas, work collaboratively, draw on the strengths of others and contribute to the learning of those around them.

Collaborating, communicating, empathising, emulating.


A resourceful learner is ready, willing and able to pursue creative and effective resources in order to learn. They are prepared to take risks and be innovative in order to move forward in their learning.

Reasoning, capitalising, noticing, wondering.


A reflective learner is ready, willing and able to think deeply and strategically about the learning process. They critically consider what needs to be done in order to refine their learning and make meaningful adjustments.

Planning, distilling, meta-learning, reviewing.

Beyond the domains and dispositions are certain approaches that students will hear as they engage in learning. They will be immersed in strategies that find value in mistake making. We will be encouraging students to see mistake making as opportunities to stretch their learning muscles and to develop a range of strategies to think critically and strategically.

Students will also come to appreciate the different learning modes in which they can operate; either Defence mode, Performance mode or Learning mode. Students will be taught how to recognise which mode they naturally adopt and why, when each mode could be useful and why it is important to sit predominantly in the Learning mode. Teachers have also received resources and guidance on how to structure their lessons, design learning activities and provide feedback to students that will help their classes to be strategically geared towards Learning modes.

Part of our suite of visual resources we have developed is the Learning Pit. Inspired by James Nottingham’s concept, the Learning Pit is a tool that helps students to articulate their learning journey. It helps them to identify when they are stuck, why they are stuck, and then provide them with the language and tools to become ‘un-stuck’. Every student will have one of these in their classrooms, with teachers referring to them as the students engage in learning.

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A critical part of our framework is to develop a shift in the language we use when talking about learning. Staff have been thinking deeply about productive and thought-provoking ways to ask questions that will support students in developing their learning power. Other strategies that you may hear students come home and discuss include things like Wonder Walls, the Chilli Challenge, Un-stuck posters, Ask 3 Before Me and so on. Several of these practices have been implemented over the past few years at Shire Christian. What this framework allows us to do though is to have a common language, consistent approaches and strategies that ensure students are engaged in a community of shared learning, yet still honours the individual nuances and needs of certain disciplines and students themselves.

Equipping our teachers

Learning for Life has been developed over 18 months with input from executive, middle leaders and student voice. It was launched with teachers 6 months before the wider launch to students and parents. This has allowed teachers to prepare themselves through reading related books, participate in whole school professional development and workshops and to begin to implement small changes before wider implementation. Staff will continually be equipped and supported to guide students in this next stage of learning at Shire Christian School so that our students continue to learn, serve and to know their purpose for the Glory of God.

Mrs Natalie Bluhdorn
Academic Head

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