How Can Human Learning Systems Help Us Keep the Promise?


  • The fundamental message of the Promise is that human need is met through human responses, in caring relationships.


  • The best of the work we do and have done often takes place on, or beyond the boundary of the conventions of what we think of as the system: the administrative, bureaucratic, managerial and regulatory infrastructure. Although not irrelevant this perspective is not always congruent with the core moral purpose of our professional roles: to care for and care about the people we support.


  • The Roots to Growth practice framework proposes the purpose of our work is to ensure our young people experience a ‘Good Childhood’, are safe and protected, have the support to recover from adversity and trauma and are endowed with the skills, resources and relationships to have hopeful, happy and flourishing lives. In developing this framework we have recognised the framework needs to be adaptive, flexible and, in itself, developing as we do. It also needs to be inclusive and valuing of the wisdom of and inherent in our community of practice. This means it is never complete and does not have any fixed solutions to problems or the dilemmas we encounter in the course of our work.


  • This shift in perspective compels us all to enter a much more uncertain arena, characterised by complexity and uncertainty, casting us into a space where we’re likely to feel uncomfortably consciously incompetent, without the hard edges and props that we often lean-on to alleviate the anxiety induced by working in complex and adverse circumstances. Old habits die hard.


  • None of this is entirely new in residential child care, however the approach proposed by Human Learning System provides the organising principles and structure that can enable us to navigate and negotiate competing priorities, bridge professional distance and casts us into the role of enabling explorers, embracing complexity and embarking on expeditions to discover and mobilise the wisdom and assets inherent within our community and beyond. Rather than all-knowing experts or fixers.


  • This brings to the fore the core and unifying purpose of work, that forms the design principles to consider what we do and how we do it, while distributing responsibility where it can be best met and agency with, or as close to, the people we support as possible.


  • For those of us in leadership roles this means giving up something of our sense of control, we’ll only achieve the aims of we have set ourselves in meeting the aspirations The Promise if we share responsibility, and we can only do this meaningfully if we learn together.


Learning as Strategy

Learning to Learn (differently)

Storytelling supports learning as an infinite, iterative and social process. This is encouraged through making spaces for non-directive reflective discussions, that are psychologically safe, with inquiry framed by our unifying moral (common) purpose and a focus on developing and enriching the imperative caring culture and relationships, rather than short term outcomes.

Storytelling allows the expression of the richness and entire range of human experience, the cognitive, affective, practical and motivational elements. Through curious and sensitive facilitation, the gifts, wisdom and sophistication of our community is revealed in testimony characterised by moral courage and shared vulnerability. Our learning and development needs emerge as shadows of our strengths. Creating a space where members of our community feel seen, heard, valued and empowered this enables us to negotiate complexity through meaning-making to reconcile tensions and anxieties that may surface, enabling congruence with our moral purpose that supports ethical and responsible practice, and collective and individual learning.

For more information on our Practice Framework, Roots to Growth, you can email: