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The LWL Project Book: Learning Without Limits

by Susan Hart, Annabelle Dixon, Mary Jane Drummond and Donald McIntyre, with Narinder Brach, Claire Conway, Nicola Madigan, Julie Marshall, Alison Peacock, Anne Reay, Yahi Tahibet, Non Worrall and Patrick Yarker

Published by Open University Press, 2004 ISBN: 0-335-21259-X

The book explores ways of teaching that are free from determinist beliefs about ability. Following a detailed critique of the practices of ability labelling and ability-focused teaching, the book features nine vivid case studies (from Year 1 to Year 11) that describe how teachers developed alternative practices despite considerable pressure on them and on their schools and classrooms. The authors analyse these case studies and construct a model of pedagogy based on the core idea of transformability: the mind-set that children's futures as learners are not pre-determined, and that teachers can help to strengthen and ultimately transform young people's capacity to learn through the choices they make.

Society for Educational Studies Book Award 2005

In 2005, Learning Without Limits received an award from the Society for Educational Studies as 'one of the outstanding books on education published in the previous year'.


  • Times Educational Supplement, June 4 2004
  • Forum, Vol. 46, No 3, Autumn 2004
  • The Scottish Education Journal
  • British Journal of Special Education, Vol. 32, No 2, 2005
  • British Educational Research Journal, Vol. 31, No.2, April 2005
  • Journal of In-service Education
  • British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol.53 No 2 100-103

Extracts from reviews

'This is an inspiring book for anyone who is concerned about ability labelling and the damaging effect is has on learners in schools, and who wants to know if it is possible to teach in any other ways.' (British Education Research Journal).

'Not only is this an accessible and highly readable book; it is also an exemplary research project. (…) Vivid accounts are given of the teachers' day-to-day practice and the reasoning behind their very individual approaches is explored in depth and detail. (Forum)

'After reading this book many teachers who believe in the limitless potential of children but are constrained by this fixed-ability mind set will find new ways of thinking and acting. (..) This is a practical book which, as Tim Brighouse says, could change the world.' (Human Scale Education)

'This is in many ways an optimistic and life enhancing perspective. It might easily be dismissed as an idle academic dream, but for the fact that is has emerged in part from observation of what can be done in current classrooms by real teachers (and in the land of the national curriculum! Surely a minor miracle).' (The Scottish Education Journal).

'There is a strong case here for a shift in policy as well as great material for supporting the practice of learning without limits. The message is as relevant for teachers in special schools as for anyone, challenging our notions of the limits placed on pupils by their organic impairments. This book has the potential to change lives.' (British Journal of Special Education)