general Description

Human-centred education aims at the development of the whole person and enabling the expression of full human potential through educational processes and practices.

Human-centred education can be characterized as an holistic approach to curriculum and assessment, flowing from human relations between teachers, students, parents and other members of the community, and is achieved through addressing the unity of human experience as a whole, within a stimulating human environment in the school classroom, playground, community and beyond.

Practice concerns itself with the development of personal qualities and dispositions such as curiosity, caring for others and inner integrity to actively engage and empower learners to shape rich, meaningful and flourishing experiences at school and in adult life and learning.

Human-centred educational processes seek to show students:

  • Emotional literacy
  • Independence
  • Knowledge
  • Resourcefulness
  • Insightfulness
  • Creativity
  • Inquisitiveness
  • Open-mindedness
  • Care

By activating such an approach we may harness this potential to transform our understanding of the aims of education, the nature of learning, and the relationships between individuals in schools as learning-communities where adults and young people and valued and respected for who they are and supported and guided accordingly.

  The growth of the individual as a human being is paramount over other general educational aims such as academic achievement, economic growth and social transformation.
  Human life is intrinsically valuable and shouldn’t be understood as an instrument or a mere means. This means that a student’s time at school is valuable in itself, not only as a preparation for adult life.
  Education should be directed towards the development of the individual as a whole. Such holistic development typically points in two directions at once:
Outwardly towards caring for people, causes and things beyond oneself, and
Reflexively towards greater self-awareness and self-direction.
  Learning should involve more than the acquisition of knowledge and skills. It must have at its heart the cultivation of qualities or (non-moral) virtues. This involves learning to care about the right things in the right way.


Some characteristics of a human-centred learning COMMUNITY:
  • underpinned by a culture of care and respect, mutual concern and compassion, in which people treat each other as persons rather than as role occupants.
  • a shared commitment to a way of being and flourishing together driven by a collective search for shared experience of meaningfulness in a community of learners.
  • each person feels ownership of and empowerment to contribute to the future of the school; this would require trust, a culture of listening and engagement.
  • governance is about a values-based orientation and leadership is collaborative rather than authoritarian.
  • close links with parents and others within the wider community.
  • engages with processes (such as lived-citizenship) showing young people developing their capacity and responsibility for learning
environment might include:
  • larger indoor spaces with natural light
  • green outdoor spaces
  • extensive library
  • free access to technology and specialist facilities
  • access to quiet spaces and solitary time
  Considering (re)visioning your environment as a Learning Community? please refer to the adapting your school section [below].


  For any school adapting to human-centred educational practice, as teacher, guide, facilitator or mentor, all are contributing to helping students to nurture their curiosity, caring attitude, and a love of learning.
  Teachers are developing and maintaining caring relationships with students.
  Making a safe learning environment to give students all opportunities to show a thirst for learning, sense of responsibility for themselves and to be offered challenges and guided resourcing to engage their holistic development.
  To work to the curriculum as described on this website implies the creation of three staffed roles:
  • Personal Learning Mentors :: to guide direction time
  • Professional Facilitators :: to lead emotional time
  • Cognitive Coaches :: to support cognitive development time
  There may be scope in your school to make use of the skills and capabilities of existing staff in conferring these roles. The Learning Mentor role is specified for a full-time highly attuned and dedicated individual. For more descriptive detail on these roles, please refer to the HCE handbook. [link to book]


  Human-centred education provides contexts for holistic emotional, motivational, and cognitive development.
    ... Full article here soon


Feedback and Review

  The regime and terminology of assessment is reformed in Human-centred educational establishments where distinctions can start to be made between various ultimate purposes for, and modes of, review and evaluation.
  Five distinct purposes/modes that assessment or evaluation are intended to serve:
  • To help students to improve themselves through education
  • To help teachers better support student development
  • To provide employers with information about the student as a candidate for a job or vocational training programme
  • To provide other educational institutions (HE and FE) evidence regarding the student as a candidate for apprenticeship or further study
  • As a measure for the government, parents and taxpayers with information about school educational standards and public accountability.
  Where the dispensation of education is intending to serve all of these ends through a single mode of assessment by examination, the priority of the learner is lost somewhat.  
  This all-out requirement to perform well in high-stakes examinations distorts the nature of learning and makes the work of the teacher onerous and stressful. Learning itself is no longer the objective, students are the instruments of the examination system so are unable to appreciate the intrinsic value of the learning process.
  For suggestions on how to reshape the way students’ learning is assessed and reviewed, please refer to the Handbook and [Learning Portfolio pdf].

Adapting your school


  The extent to which a school can adapt to a human-centred approach will depend on its material resources, its human capacities and other factors. Some schools may feel that they would like to and can implement a human-centred model as completely or as fully as possible. Other schools may feel that their situation requires a more cautious or step-by-step approach perhaps because of the policy climate within the country or region or because of a lack of resources.
  To propose adaptations then in terms of three distinct levels of engagement:
   Minimum adaptation :: Values-based Approach At the simplest level, implementing the HCE approach requires systematic institutional reflection on how the school might create the conditions for student holistic growth, asking what do the values and principles of HCE mean for our school? At this initial level, we can provide guidelines that help an institution to understand what such a transformation would mean practically for the school.
   Intermediate adaptation :: Flexible Approach If a school wants to put human-centred education into practice without engaging in major structural changes then we propose certain changes in the handbook that take as a given the schools existing educational framework. This level of engagement allows for cumulative improvement rooted in deeper educational thinking.
    Maximum adaptation :: Whole School/Holistic Approach This approach aims at implementing human-centred education in all aspects of the school’s practice. In our handbook we provide an integral vision for human-centred education, which can be integrated fully within a school community.

Depending on the level of commitment, shifting to a Human Centred approach may involve:

  • Understanding and internalising human-centred values
  • Sensitising and training the school team
  • Re-designing the school
  • Getting the entire community on board
  • Sustaining human-centred education through research
  • Humanising the educational system
  For more detail on what this might look like in practice please consult the HCE handbook [link to book] or contact us [link] for more information.



HCE FAQ section

Swan Centre Falmer

HCE Curriculum page

HiStory [link]

Research [link]

Handbook of Human-Centred Education [link]

Samples and resources [link]