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Thinking School

What is a Thinking School?

An educational community in which all members share a common commitment to giving regular careful thought to everything that takes place. This involves both students and staff learning how to think reflectively, critically and creatively, and employing these skills and techniques in the co-construction of a meaningful curriculum and associated activities. Successful outcomes are reflected in students across a wide range of abilities, demonstrating independent and co-operative learning skills, high levels of achievement and both enjoyment and satisfaction in learning. Benefits will be shown in ways in which all members of the community interact with and show consideration for each other and in the positive psychological well-being of both students and staff.

Burden, 2006.

The Six Starting Points

The journey to becoming a Thinking School involves a strong commitment and careful planning.

Six Thinking Hats Diagram

Key Points for Our Trust

  • Children first: To provide a stimulating learning environment for all where learners feel safe to explore knowledge and understanding. We believe that children learn best when they are motivated, clear about expectations in their work and behaviour, feel valued, secure and confident, are challenged and receive constructive feedback about their performance.
  • Aspire: To be the best they can be. We believe that all staff and pupils can aspire for personal and professional prowess and become empowered through the Thinking philosophy.
  • Challenge: To actively shape the minds, attitudes and habits of young people through a framework of cognitive education that enables them to become the master of their own destiny. We believe that pupils require an accurate reflection of what they are good at and need to develop personal insight and manage uncertainty confidently. Developing skilled, independent, reflective learners is part of our Vision.
  • Achieve: For all stakeholders to demonstrate the highest levels of thinking and habits. We want our pupils to be questioning in nature, achieving the highest levels of independent and interdependent prowess.

Thinking Approach

Our “Thinking School” approach is consistent with the aims below and helps to ensure that:

  1. Pupils in TSAT are supported to think for themselves, through the development of a thorough understanding of purposeful thinking tools that they can use to aid and monitor their own progress.
  2. Staff in TSAT are encouraged to think accurately and reflectively about their practice and understand a range of thinking tools that can be used to support student motivation and progress.

Thinking Pathways Diagram

Feedback from Exeter University on recently accredited schools within our Trust

  • Isambard Brunel Junior School – 2017: “It was clear from the lessons and part lessons I observed that children are very familiar with the tools and strategies, and both adults and pupils were using them confidently and in a range of ways to support and scaffold thinking and learning, develop deeper questioning and to probe for reasoning.”
  • The Portsmouth Academy – 2016: “Students were both articulate and aspirational, and it was clear from the discussion that they not only know about and use a range of thinking tools and approaches, but also have a strong sense of ownership, see them as central to their learning.”
  • The Rochester Grammar School – 2016: “Through thought-full, passionate and inspirational leadership combined with a relentless drive for excellence, ongoing self-evaluation and review and the willingness of governors, staff, pupils and parents to embrace exciting and innovative ideas, the school continues to provide an excellent example of effective cognitive education in action. Cognitive approaches are so embedded in the ethos and culture of the school that it feels as if the school is ‘drenched in thinking!’
Thinking Pathways Diagram