Our next Parent Workshop will be on Monday 22nd April at 9.30am. This is the first of a four part course for parents about Autism. In session 1 we will be exploring what is Autism.
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Oaklands School

Building Foundations for Fulfilling Futures

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Oaklands School

Building Foundations for Fulfilling Futures

Learning Powers

Meta-Cognition and Learning Powers


Building learning powers is based on the idea that we are all capable of becoming better learners and that through this we can help our pupils secure skills and characteristics that will prepare them for adulthood.


“To thrive in the 21st Century, it’s not enough to leave…. with examination certificates. You have to have learnt how to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self-disciplined and self-aware, collaborative and inquisitive” Claxton 2002.


Key principles of Building Learning Powers:


  • Creating a learning culture that encourages children and teachers to become better learners
  • To allow children to approach difficulties in learning without fear of failure
  • To allow children to take small steps within learning
  • To develop confidence
  • This is not additional to teaching but should be grounded within everyday teaching and learning
  • To have shared key words for the children and staff to develop understanding of learning processes

Our school has developed a language for learning through the use of meta-cognition. This has involved creating and developing an ethos, atmosphere and language of learning throughout the school. Meta-Cognition allows us to teach pupils how to deepen their understanding by encouraging them to think and communicate even more about their learning.Teaching our pupils to practice the learning powers allows them to develop the capacity to learn in challenging circumstances throughout school and wider life, maximising success. Our learning powers support the teaching of meta-cognitive skills throughout the school.


Learning Powers at Oaklands



Being attentive and able to pay attention to teaching in class, but also learning to be more aware of their surroundings, including people and objects. Looking may be for short periods of time, with minimal or no eye contact as we know people with ASD can struggle with this, and also include sensory breaks, e.g. getting up to walk or stim then returning to looking at the teaching or focusing on the learning task.



Developing listening skills in a range of contexts. Listening to instructions from school staff is extremely important, as well as being able to understand teaching. We ensure we are using language and sentence length appropriate to individual students to maximise understanding, e.g. using key words for our more complex learners, working up to longer sentences as they develop their listening skills and understanding.

Listening also includes being able to discriminate sounds in the environment, which in turn helps to develop understanding of phonics and spoken language.



Trying is all about continuing to try something, even when you’re facing difficulty, failure or some delay. Research shows that it is important to praise children on their efforts over their intellect (Dweck, 2007), e.g. praise with ‘great effort!’ rather than ‘clever boy/girl!’. We ensure learning for our students is a ‘healthy challenge’ that meets their ability level, so trying is required and praised appropriately.

Resilience is broader. It’s about overcoming negative circumstances or adversity in your life, handling your emotions, and still remaining healthy and competent.



This can be applied to a variety of contexts, including sharing resources, space or an interaction with another student of member of staff. It is important that students learn to share these things, doing so at their own pace.



Reading applies to a variety of situations, linked to our Three World of Reading teaching as part of our Literacy Curriculum. The first is Reading the World, the second Reading the World of School and Community, and the third is Reading the World of Words and Books. Each World of Reading is equally important and individual learners will be accessing different worlds.



We are referring to all forms of expressive communication as ‘talking’. Many of our students are pre-verbal so their expressive communication will be through signing, PECS, communication books or using gestures, all of which are valid forms of communication and to be praised.



Exploring is an important aspect of learning for our students, whether it’s exploring a new activity or resource, or physical place, and will look different for individual students. We encourage exploring in all forms and incorporate it into learning in school.

Makaton Learning Powers Signs

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Learning Powers Signs in Gujarati

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How can Parents and Carers Help?


  • Questions you could ask: Why not ask your child ‘how have you learned at school today’ or you might ask ‘which of the learning powers did you use today?’ or you might ask ‘which learning power do you need to use more tomorrow?’
  • Sharing your experiences: Share how you learn, be your child’s learning hero. Talk about the learning powers and encourage those attributes at home and in other out of school activities such as swimming, going to the park and learning to ride a bike, etc.