Doha College, a leading British international school founded in Qatar 38 years ago, recently became the first school in the world to receive the highly prestigious title of ‘HPL World Class School’.

This triumph for international education in Qatar was earned after a two-year journey, during which Doha College ensured that the HPL approach pervaded all aspects of school life and became second nature to all its stakeholders.

Doha College HPL AwardHigh Performance Learning or HPL is a global movement for change. At its heart is the serious belief that almost all learners are capable of high performance and that by making this belief the explicit philosophy for the school and adjusting practice to focus on systematically building the relevant cognitive competencies, far more learners will become successful. HPL provides a framework which school leaders can adapt to transform learning – actively involving students and their parents in the learning journey and presenting schooling as a quest for cognitive success.

Principal Dr Steffen Sommer, Vice Principal Neil Thomas and Assistant Principal Uzma Zaffar – all instrumental pioneers of HPL implementation at Doha College – travelled to the UK this week to attend the ceremony and formally receive the accreditation.

Vice Principal Neil Thomas, one of the passionate drivers of the HPL philosophy, voiced the school’s delight with the accreditation.

We are delighted to be the first school in the world to have achieved the HPL World Class School Award. It has been amazing to see how our teachers have embraced the challenge of introducing and embedding HPL into every aspect of school life, so much so that it has become part of our DNA. Our challenge now is to continue developing HPL within the school so that our students can continue to grow personally and further expand their passion for learning.’

According to Assistant Principal Zaffar, the approach has made them ‘lift the lid on learning’.

HPL has led to the redesigning of the way in which we teach, assess and plan. Our students are at the centre of everything we do, and through HPL they have become independent learners who analyse their thinking as well as challenge themselves to take risks. At Doha College, we are creating learners for the 21st century.’

Professor Deborah Eyre, who developed the HPL philosophy based on a lifetime’s academic research and practice in education for advanced cognitive performance, praised the school for their commitment.

Dr Steffen Sommer is a strong advocate for the HPL philosophy and wanted his school to be among the first to work towards the award.

They got off to a flying start – and kept on flying! Uzma and Neil enthused the whole staff and set about the transformation with enjoyment and an infectious excitement. This approach led to a flowering of classroom experimentation and the emergence of a committed group of ‘first followers’ who exemplified HPL teaching and soon began to lead and embed the work. DC has been a major contributor to webinars, with staff at all levels happy to talk about their practice and how they use HPL in their classrooms.

Good fortune, and visionary leadership, resulted in highly committed leads in both primary and secondary. Their HPL journey has been characterised by unfailing optimism and energy, and an absolute belief that they could deliver high performance for all – and go further!

Doha College is already known as one of the leading British curriculum international schools in the Middle East, so the challenge is about keeping that outstanding position, and continuing to raise our performance even further. We made HPL a central part of Doha College’s development plan, and the impact is undeniable.’

Doha College has offered outstanding education to the community of Qatar for nearly four decades, and will expand to a ten-form Primary and Secondary School at two prime locations in Doha – Al Wajba and West Bay – with the building of its new state of the art campus in 2020.

To find out more about High Performance Learning and how it shapes the learning at Doha College, visit