Why we wanted to become an accredited Thinking School
The Heathland Whitefriars Federation is a learning focused school. Professional dialogue about pedagogy and learning is now at the heart of what we do. Now that our talk about learning is right, we had the opportunity to go deeper into what makes learning happen. Employing a range of Thinking tools doesn’t close any gaps as such, however it is the logical next step to enhance our practise in a positive way.
We successfully became an Accredited Thinking School in July 2015.
One definition of a Thinking School is: an educational community in which all members share a common commitment to giving regular, careful thought to everything that takes place. This will involve learning how to think: reflectively, critically and creatively, and to employing these skills and techniques in the co-construction of a meaningful curriculum and associated activities.
In order to achieve this goal, we adopted a whole school approach whereby all stakeholders (including parents and school governors) are fully committed to the school’s aims and how they can best be achieved. Staff needed to be specially trained and methods were introduced into the curriculum for teaching the skills of thinking and associated cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies. The widest possible application of these skills and strategies now underpin all other aspects of the curriculum and guide behaviour policies and expectations about human interactions at every level and care for the environment.
Placing cognition at the heart of education and establishing explicit links between critical and creative thinking, high quality autonomous learning and pro-social behaviour can have enormous benefits for the students, the ethos of the schools, and for the wider community.