Doha College, one of the longest established international schools in Qatar and a beacon of excellence in the country’s education, contributed three different workshops to Qatar’s Teaching and Learning Forum, organised by Qatar Foundation and held recently at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

Vice Principal Neil Thomas during his session at the Teaching and Learning Forum

Doha College principal Dr Steffen Sommer, and Vice Principal Neil Thomas, ran a very popular session on High Performance Learning (HPL), a research-based educational philosophy which allows all students to achieve highly.

Cognitive research over the last fifteen years has clearly shown that the capacity of the human brain goes far beyond what had been thought possible until now. As a result, schools like Doha College – the first accredited HPL School in the world – have changed their tag and now teach all students beyond perceived ceilings, towards the top level.

According to Dr Sommer, potential is not a fixed asset, nor is the IQ, with the brain being malleable.

If we can change the IQ, schools have to take responsibility for it and do all they can to increase it for all students, in order to make top grades available to all. Needless to say the interest in the workshop, which focused on how this has been achieved at Doha College, was substantial.’

James Conly, Vice Principal for Student Welfare at Doha College, ran a workshop on Student Voice, explaining to the audience, while doing practical exercises with the participants, how students are integral to the leadership of the school. Being true HPL learners with a growth mind-set, Doha College students learn from Primary age how to take responsibility for their learning, be collaborative, determined and open-minded, indeed to be equal partners in the teaching and learning process.

Head Boy and Head Girl, both in Primary and Secondary, together with teams of Prefects, take responsibility for the student body, just like the Principal and Vice Principals do for the staff. Elected members on the Student Council in all Year Groups channel information up and deliver it down (top-down-bottom-up) to ensure seamless communication across the year groups. Regular meetings between the school leadership and the students ensures holisticity of the process.

Only if students feel that they have ownership of the school, will their learning be sustainable, summarised Conly.

Dr Denise Mosher, who teaches Sociology and ICT and Computer Science at Doha College, delivered a workshop on her recently completed PhD thesis. In a practical and interactive session, she explored how modes of presentation, cognitive load, and individual differences impact on the recall capacity of students. While the HPL philosophy explores the way children think and how they behave within their learning, Denise’s thesis and the workshop complement the philosophy by looking at memory capacity and how to extend it.

Doha College runs its own weekly Teaching and Learning forums in both the Primary and Secondary schools, where teachers take turns presenting their research to their peers on a variety of subjects. Innovation within Teaching and Learning is paramount in light of constantly changing conditions, needs and expectations within society. Standing still means going backwards, concluded Dr Sommer.

To find out more about HPL and the other advanced teaching practices at Doha College, visit