Learning The 5Rs

What strategies can we use for improving the learning attributes of students?

When it comes to developing a love of learning, it used to be left pretty much to chance.

But now schools buy into packages of learning attributes which they promote throughout the school and embed as part of its culture.

One of these is the 5Rs and they are taught by schools as part of their open and hidden curricula.

The following attributes are what many schools ‘do’ but making them a way of life and way of thinking is what schools do by writing them into their school policies, practices and processes.

So what are they?

The 5Rs are Resilient, Relational, Reflective, Reasoned and Responsible.

1. RESILIENT: Resilient learners know how to work through challenges and difficulties when things get hard and  the terrain gets tough going. They are resourceful in working around their barriers to learning and ‘bounce back’.

Resilient Learners will:

  • Persist
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Stay involved with their learning
  • Recognise the benefits of hard work
  • Show initiative and ‘have a go’

2. RELATIONAL: Relational learners respect themselves and others and recognise that the best gains in learning come from collaborating and working together. They accept support and welcome praise and they are happy to support and praise others. They are able to make links with their learning and across subjects.

Relational Learners will:

  • Make links with past learning and across subject matter
  • Respect themselves and others
  • Collaborate freely
  • Be curious, make links and ask questions
  • Be open to feedback

3. REFLECTIVE: Reflective learners are able to think about their learning journey. They are able to critically evaluate their own work as well as others and are prepared to consider better ways of doing things .

Reflective Learners will:

  • Be able to describe their progress
  • Listen and Learn from feedback
  • Provide feedback for their peers
  • Learn from experience

4. REASONED: Reasoned learners are ready, willing and able to use their judgment skills together with skills in communication and empathy.

Reasoned Learners will:

  • Be able to explain their thinking
  • Consider all the evidence
  • Choose the best method or thinking tool
  • Explain the uses of their new skills or knowledge

5. RESPONSIBLE: Responsible learners are happy to work independently and as part of a team. They use their initiative and understand that ownership of their learning belongs to them.

Responsible Learners will:

  • Know right from wrong and make good choices
  • Value their learning
  • Ensure they are organised
  • Show independence and know how to set their own targets
  • Show they are ‘ready’ to learn

Schools that adopt the 5Rs say that these help children to experience greater success and reach their full potential as learners.

Making a song and dance about the 5Rs and making them a part of school life so they become a mindset requires plenty of time and effort. They need to be regularly encouraged and acknowledged by the whole school community.

Some schools combine these 5Rs with another set of 5Rs which relate to behaviour and promoting a positive learning environment around relationships, rights, rules, routines and responsibilities. The problem with this is that students can get bogged down with learning too many and get confused.

Does the 5Rs model appeal to you and your school? Is this something you’d be willing to support the development of the whole child through?


For more information about the 5Rs then see this from the Campaign for Learning by Higgins et al (2007).

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