Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Powerful Learning, Powerful Teaching and Powerful Schools

  • 422 Accesses

  • 11 Citations


This paper is a personal reflection on the purpose and scope of school improvement. In explaining why in education the more things change the more they stay the same, I clarify the focus of educational reform as being powerful learning on the part of students, and then demonstrate that this occurs in contexts where content is conceptual rather than particular, where learning is constructive inquiry not passive reception, and where the social climate is expansive instead of restrictive. Such classrooms exist in schools whose organisational conditions and cultures are characterised by high expectations, collaboration and innovation. Finally I argue that equity and high standards require a coherent policy framework that emphasises process as well as substance.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adey, P. & Shayer, M. (1990). Accelerating the development of formal thinking in middle and high school students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 27(3), 267–285.

  2. Adey, P. & Shayer, M. (1994). Really Raising Standards. London: Routledge.

  3. Ainscow, M., Hopkins, D., Southworth, G. & West, M. (1994). Creating the Conditionsfor School Improvement. London: David Fulton Publishers.

  4. Brophy, J. & Good, T. (1986). Teacher behaviour and student achievement. In M. Wittrock (ed), Handbook of Research on Teaching, 3rd edn. New York: Macmillan.

  5. Bruner, J. (1966). Towards a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  6. Creemers, B. (1994). The Effective Classroom. London: Cassell.

  7. Edmonds, R.R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership 37(1), 15–27.

  8. Elmore, R. (1995). Teaching, learning, and school organization: Principles of practice and the regularities of schooling. Educational Administration Quarterly 31(3), 355–374.

  9. Fullan, M. (1992). Successful School Improvement. Buckingham: Open University Press.

  10. Fullan, M. (1993). Change Forces. London: Falmer Press.

  11. Gray, J. (1990). The quality of schooling: Frameworks for judgement. British Journal of Educational Studies 38(3), 203–223.

  12. Gray, J., Hopkins, D., Reynolds, D., Wilcox, B., Farrell, S. & Jesson, D. (1999). Improving Schools - Performance and Potential. Buckingham: Open University Press.

  13. Hargreaves, A., Lieberman, A., Fullan, M. & Hopkins, D. (eds) (1998). International Handbook of Educational Change (in 4 volumes). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

  14. Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (1998). What's Worth Fighting For Out There. New York: Teachers College Press.

  15. Hargreaves, D.H. & Hopkins, D. (1991). The Empowered School. London: Cassell.

  16. Hopkins, D. (1993). A Teacher's Guide to Classroom Research, 2nd edn. Buckingham: Open University Press.

  17. Hopkins, D. (1996). Quality teachers and the language of teaching. Education Review (Winter) 10(2), 18–25.

  18. Hopkins, D., Ainscow, M. & West, M. (1994). School Improvement in an Era of Change. London: Cassell.

  19. Hopkins, D., Harris, A. & Jackson, D. (1997). Understanding the school's capacity for development. School Leadership and Management 17(3), 401–411.

  20. Hopkins, D. & MacGilchrist, B. (1998). Development planning for pupil achievement. School Leadership and Management 18(3), 409–424.

  21. Hopkins, D. & Stern, D. (1996). Quality teachers, quality schools. Teaching and Teacher Education (Winter) 12(5), 501–517.

  22. Hopkins, D. & West, M. (1994). Teacher development and school improvement. In D. Walling (ed.), Teachers as Learners. Bloomington, IN: PDK.

  23. Hopkins, D., West, M. & Ainscow, M. (1996). Improving the Quality of Education for All. London: David Fulton Publishers.

  24. Hopkins, D., West, M. & Beresford, J. (1998). Creating the conditions for classroom and teacher development. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 4(1), 115–141.

  25. Hopkins, D., West, M., Harris, A., Ainscow, M. & Beresford, J. (1997). Creating the Conditions for Classroom Improvement. London: David Fulton Publishers.

  26. Hopkins, D. (2000). Seeing School Improvement Whole. London: Falmer Press.

  27. Joyce, B., Calhoun, E. & Hopkins, D. (1997). Models of Learning - Tools for Teaching. Buckingham: Open University Press.

  28. Joyce, B. & Showers, B. (1991). Information Processing Models of Teaching. Aptos, CA: Booksend Laboratories.

  29. Joyce, B. & Showers, B. (1995). Student Achievement Through Staff Development, 2nd edn. White Plains, NY: Longman.

  30. Joyce, B. & Weil, M. (1996). Models of Teaching, 5th edn. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

  31. Joyce, B., Wolf, J. & Calhoun, E. (1993). The Self Renewing School. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

  32. McLaughlin, M. (1990). The Rand change agent study revisited: Macro perspectives, micro realities. Educational Researcher 19(9), 11–16.

  33. Reynolds, D. & Cuttance, P. (eds) (1992). School Effectiveness. London: Cassell.

  34. Rudduck, J., Chaplain, R. & Wallace, G. (1996). School Improvement: What Can Pupils Tell Us? London: David Fulton Publishers.

  35. Sharan, S. & Shachar, H. (1988). Language and Learning in the Co-operative Classroom. New York: Springler-Verlag.

  36. Slavin, R. & Fashola, O. (1998). Show Me the Evidence! Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

  37. Stenhouse, L. (1975). An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development. London: Heinemann Educational Books.

  38. Walberg, H. (1990). Productive teaching and instruction: assessing the knowledge base. Phi Delta Kappan 71(6), 470–478.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hopkins, D. Powerful Learning, Powerful Teaching and Powerful Schools. Journal of Educational Change 1, 135–154 (2000).

Download citation


  • Education Research
  • High Standard
  • High Expectation
  • Policy Framework
  • Educational Reform