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Attitude and Approaches to Learning (AATL)

Samuel Gipson
Samuel Gipson (16 posts) Head of Secondary View Profile

At Nord Anglia Manila, we are always seeking to push the boundaries, innovate and evolve our approach to teaching and learning.

y7 male student

This past half-term has seen our school roll-out of Microsoft Teams as our new collaboration platform, the results of which have been outstanding; increased pupil engagement, more flexibility in approach and more dynamic lessons. Over the coming weeks we will be rolling out further upgrades to the teaching technology available to staff. This new technology will be a vital part of our future return to school in a hybrid/blended model and in the meantime, will further elevate our virtual school lessons.

Not only are we always aiming to improve our Virtual School Experience through use of improved technology and collaboration platforms, but we are also continually striving to find ways to develop our approaches to teaching and learning. Without care and attention, it is very easy for the soft-skills students develop in traditional face-to-face school to be eroded in the virtual space. Key skills like the ability to converse and discuss with peers, resilience in the face of challenge, the ability to ask questions or ask for help.

In the past, I have written about what makes a school experience different from simply getting an education and outlined why our focus on replicating the in-school experience in the virtual space is so important and beneficial for students. It is very easy for schools to become over-fixated on academic outcomes and content, particularly when working online. A core component of our outstanding virtual offer is our emphasis on supporting positive attitudes and approaches to learning as well as ensuring students are achieving academically. The results of this approach are clear with our recent IGSCE (98% A*-C) and A-Level grades (100% A*-C) greatly exceeding UK and international averages.

  • Attitude & Approach to Learning overview slide
  • Attitude & Approach to Learning process slide
  • Attitude & Approach to Learning coaching slide

Nord Anglia Manila’s unique AATL (Attitude & Approaches to Learning) Grades are a very useful tool in helping support students as they navigate not only the complexities of secondary school but working online in our present world. We view AATL grades as being of equal importance as traditional academic letter grades and when the two data sets are viewed together, provide a thorough insight into not only student progress but what next steps are to enhance learning.

AATL are graded on a scale of 1-4 (1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4) and categorize students as as “Ambitious”, “Engaged ”, “Passive ” or “Disengaged ” learners. These grades are arrived using an articulated criteria table that outlines expected learning behaviors, approaches and attitudes associated with each category. For example, an “ambitious” learner would be expected to be resilient in their learning, ask questions, relish challenge and be evolutionary in their thinking.

AATLs are awarded every 6-8 weeks in each subject in the final week of each half-term, at the same time as academic progress data is captured.  Importantly, we don’t just grade students and leave it there. The AATL program follows a set routine. Prior to receiving their AATL grades, students first predict their AATLs in each subject by reflecting on past work, reviewing academic grades and following discussions with their teachers. They then graph their predictions and journal subject specific reflections using the AATL criteria as a guide. Following this, students then receive an AATL report and work with teachers to further reflect on their approaches to learning, focusing on both their strengths and areas of improvement. Students then complete a guided and in-depth journaling task in each subject to determine next steps on their pathway to improve. The main aim of these journaling reflection sessions is to come up with clear SMART goals and actionable solutions. The final step of the AATL process is that students attend at least one coaching session with their House Tutors to explore further ways to improve. Furter coaching sessions are available to students who need more support.

Teachers also regularly review the AATL data use it to identify trends across the school in approaches and attitudes to learning and isolate areas of concern. These areas of concern are then implicitly addressed in lessons and explicitly in bespoke wellbeing sessions, to aid students in developing learning behaviors, attitudes, and approaches.  

The positive impact of our unique AATL Grades is clear. After one year of running the programme, our Term 3 academic results at the end of last year were the highest, they have ever been, with 37% of grades being A*-A in Years 7-10 and students in Year 11 achieving our highest IGCSE grades ever. Many students attributed the turnaround in their academic progress to the AATL grades and program.

The first round of AATL grades will be released on October 7th and students are already engaging in their predictions and reflection processes. We look forward to seeing the further impact of this program as we seek to elevate and improve students’ attitudes and approaches to learning and help them frame their own, meaningful, and real-world solutions on their journey to success.


In the video below,  our Year 9 student, Sebastian doing a reflection video of their dance project, and shows an excellent example of a great attitude to learning.

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