Research and comment about pupils’ achievement in school fails to measure or take into account pupils’ engagement in learning. It is usually relegated to comments about low engagement being a causal factor in low achievement and behavioural problems, without discussion of the school’s role in building or destroying engagement. In a research conference I was told by very experienced educational researchers that they could not point to any research on how motivation to learn is developed initially in students,

A few schools make it their business to develop an engaging learning culture that makes pupils want to be in school and want to learn. Those that don’t are suffering increasingly destructive bad behaviour by pupils that they struggle to constrain.

The Naace Third Millennium Learning Award investigated schools that were providing an unusually good learning experience for pupils, as judged by the very experienced team of Naace ICT Mark Assessors who had assessed hundreds of schools. The 100+ schools that gained the award were very different in terms of culture and catchment, and were providing an excellent education in very different ways. There was however one commonality across all the schools, which is that they were building the engagement in learning of their pupils. The way that they were doing this is expressed in the Virtuous Spiral diagram.

It fell to Naace to notice and investigate what these schools were doing because there is a fundamental link between the use of ICT and the virtuous spiral approach. ICT provides the tools necessary and children being digital helps create the mindset that is necessary for high engagement, with the ability to independently find things out on the Internet and tools to achieve what is desired.

Evidence of high engagement and strategies to develop it and measure it are being assembled in these pages – see the 3MLA (Third Millennium Learning Award) and PES (Pupil Engagement Survey) pages which will be added shortly.