Rewarding an ACTIVE approach to learning at Norwich High School for Girls

Posted on 22nd May 2024

At Norwich High Senior School for Girls, we follow an ACTIVE approach to learning.

At Norwich High Senior School for Girls, we follow an ACTIVE approach to learning. We want students to think about how they learn, be curious about what they are learning, and to contribute and engage with our school, local, national and global community.

Designed by Matt Bradshaw, Assistant Head Academic, Head of History and Politics and Future Schools Project Lead at Norwich High School for Girls, the ACTIVE model, inspired by the World Economic Forum’s ‘Schools of the Future’ report and Education 4.0 Framework, aims to enhance students’ approach to learning, the competencies demanded by the changing world of work, and their wellbeing.

Students are encouraged to become:

A: Adaptable
C: Community-minded
T: Technologically mature
I: Independent
V: Visionary
E: Eager to learn

As the approach has been embedded into school, academic departments are incorporating ACTIVE into curriculum planning, ensuring each of the six attributes is encouraged. The Senior School rewards system has been relaunched with an emphasis on the ACTIVE traits to recognise that the learning journey is as important as the destination. Providing meaningful feedback and praising the right learning processes means ACTIVE helps establish positive habits creating the conditions for sustained success.

Staff observe each others’ teaching to share best practice in ACTIVE learning. Alumnae are also invited into school to speak about how attributes like adaptability and independence have equipped them for life beyond school.

The approach is particularly relevant for girls’ only education. Mr Bradshaw is a Global Action Research Collective fellow and presented his original research on ACTIVE at the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools Conference.

“The success of ACTIVE is evident in the enthusiastic take up of the approach by Senior School students – and in their enthusiasm to earn the ACTIVE award tokens. They are engaging with it, can talk about it and understand what being ACTIVE means; the components of it have become part of the language of the school.

We are girls-first and know that girls put enough pressure on themselves without more pressure linked to attainment. By focussing on approach we are having a broader impact as girls can nurture their own individual interests and strengths.”

Matt Bradshaw, Assistant Head Academic, Head of History and Politics and ICGS GARC Research Fellow at Norwich High School for Girls

Those students who have recently been commended for their ACTIVE approach provide an insight into how ACTIVE is shaping their learning and their outcomes. 

Isabella in Year 7 has been commended for her Independent approach.

“What I like about the ACTIVE approach is that we are rewarded when we do something well and our achievements don’t go unnoticed. I have made sure to complete all pieces of work to the best of my ability, listen in all subjects and try my best. I have done extra work at home on a subject of interest and I do independent research on different tasks. I think ACTIVE has helped my attainment because I feel fully engaged in all my subjects.” 

Lauren in Year 7 has been commended for her overall ACTIVE approach to learning.

She said: “I like the way all your ACTIVE tokens go towards your House and also it engages you to keep learning and stay focused. It means a lot knowing even if you don’t get 100 percent you are still being adaptable, community minded, technologically mature, independent, visionary and eager to learn.

I have demonstrated an ACTIVE approach by being more eager to keep learning and become a more independent person. I think being an ACTIVE learner has improved my attainment.”

Amie in Year 8 has been commended for being Eager to Learn.

“To me, the ACTIVE approach means trying your hardest to do well in lessons. I have been eager to participate in class, help others when they need it and I have been able to work with other students. I believe ACTIVE has helped improve my attainment, and also that it will have an impact on me outside of school and in the future.” 

Luli in Year 8 has been commended for being Community-Minded

She said: “ACTIVE has encouraged me to have an all-rounded approach to my learning and it displays your progression over time and how you have improved using various techniques.
It allows me to contribute more often and aim to challenge my abilities.

I am good at working collaboratively and independently. As well as being eager to raise my hand in lessons, I am able to take on constructive criticism and learn from my mistakes when I get things wrong.

I was particularly involved in the NHSA Shopping by Starlight Market in December 2023 and I believe that my leadership and ability to work with my form as a team demonstrated the Community-Minded approach.

ACTIVE has taught me the ability to work in different ways and my overall mindset towards learning has been impacted by following an ACTIVE approach. In the future, when applying for a job, employers are usually interested in your approach to working for them and ACTIVE is greatly beneficial for maintaining these skills.”

Amelia B in Year 9 received her commendation for displaying an Adaptable approach. Daisy in Year 9 has been commended for her overall ACTIVE approach to learning.

Amelia said: “I really like the format of using the ACTIVE approach to help with my learning because I think it helps guide us through school focusing on our approach to learning rather than the scores and it creates a really positive learning environment.

In my subjects I have demonstrated my ACTIVE approach by finding solutions to any problems I encounter and adapting my work style to fix it; whether by researching a task or asking for help. I try to be adaptable in all aspects of my learning. For example, if my revision techniques are not working or achieving the results I am aiming for, I will adapt and change my plans.

I think being an ACTIVE learner has definitely improved my attainment because showing all of these core skills during classes I believe helps you take in more information than if you were not. I also think ACTIVE will have a large impact for me in the future; these soft skills are crucial aspects employers are looking for that won’t only help me in school and the workplace but also in day to day life, while adapting to challenges that may occur.”

Daisy added: ”

“I like how with ACTIVE we get recognised for a specific quality in our learning. I think being an ACTIVE learner has improved my attainment as I have found myself being more focused and ready to work. ACTIVE skills will impact me outside of school and in the future as we have now learned to be adaptable, community minded, technologically mature, independent, visionary and eager to learn which are all qualities needed in life after school.” 

Amelia W in Year 9 has been commended for being visionary.

“I think being an ACTIVE learner has quite an impact on attainment, or simply on the approach I have to learning. To me, the ACTIVE approach is not just a tool for learning, but also for life, as all aspects of it can be applied to everyday situations, whether that be adaptability in sudden change of plans, or being visionary and finding a new way to do something that may seem ordinary, and make it much more than that. But, in learning, I view it as a guiding tool for how to approach education. I like that it is such a wide range of things, that it can be applied to any circumstance and that it encompasses all the key points which are crucial to consider when learning.

Adaptability is something I apply most in group situations, when there are a range of ideas and ways to do things and you have to find the middle way to get the best result for everyone. The community minded approach can also be demonstrated in group work, but particularly in the aspects of it such as making all feel included and valued, or through helping a peer when they are struggling. Eagerness to learn can be demonstrated through completing extra work, such as further research, while independence can be demonstrated by creating work independently, for example with no prompt from the teacher but for personal development, or by trying to do something new with no support, such as speaking new terms in language subjects.

Regarding being visionary, I have tried to create pieces of work that are different from any others I have made before, such as experimenting with posters by incorporating 3D elements or interactive sections, or by, for example, creating an informative app for a study project instead of a booklet, poster or written piece. This also demonstrates technological maturity.

I believe ACTIVE is something you can carry through life and use it in any situation, to me it is an example of ideal or preferred approach to life or learning, and not a strict guideline that can only be used in limited instances.”