Learner Agency is a term educators are hearing more and more about. It appears in educational policy documents around the world, and school leaders are being told the importance of creating environments that promote “Learner Agency”.

If schools are to empower this idea, it is essential that we are able to answer the following questions:

  • What does Learner Agency really mean?
  • Why should school leaders care about it?
  • How do we support teachers to increase agency in learners

  • What tools do we use to guide and measure the impact of our work?

Learner Agency relates to a student’s ability to navigate their way through life and positively impact their circumstances. It’s about ensuring they are the master, not the victim, of their circumstances, and it is about students being powerful, not powerless, in the face of adversity

It is important for educators to understand that Learner Agency is not something we can give to students. It is a capability that needs to be developed by, and within, the learner. Ultimately, learners must carry and continually build their agency throughout their life, and this highlights our second problem: that despite the various guides produced in some jurisdictions, there is a broad lack of teacher understanding of what Learner Agency is and how to effectively implement it in the classroom.

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Three interdependent and equally important aspects:

The definition I provide, gives a clear picture of what Learner Agency is and a practical pathway for schools to develop Learner Agency. This definition demands that schools attend to three interrelated and equally important aspects of Learner Agency.

If, as school leaders, we are to address the development of Learner Agency effectively, then we must address these three elements:

To develop agency, learners must be in an environment free of undue restrictions, where they are challenged and given the opportunity to make choices that meaningfully influence their world.          

To develop agency, learners must understand that they are capable of developing the abilities that will allow them to succeed at challenges that are beyond their current abilities - a Growth Mindset.

To develop agency, learners must be taught how to skilfully and independently engage in the learning process in order to develop the abilities required to meaningfully impact their world, and overcome the challenges they encounter - Learnership

Learner Agency - Free Webinar

This webinar, recorded in partnership with Independent Schools Victoria, explores the concept of Learner Agency through the 3 lenses of the environment to act, the will to act, and the power to act. 

Learner Agency White Paper

Download my free 28 page guide to Learner Agency.  

Discover what schools can do to avoid common mistakes and to meaningfully develop Learner Agency. 

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James Anderson

Are you ready to begin developing Learner Agency in your school?

Interested in practical strategies to help move students along the Mindset Continuum(t).

Want to know more about how to increase Learnership in your students? 

Email me today or book a time for a video call to discuss how I can support your work with online, virtual or face to face professional learning options.


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