Cadle Primary School - Our journey so far...
By the Drive Team, Cadle Primary School, Swansea
In October 2019, one of our senior teachers attended a workshop that introduced Thinking Matters and a whole school approach to metacognition at the National Education show in Cardiff. The clear links between the Thinking School approach and the new Curriculum for Wales excited us so, as a leadership team, we decided to do some further research.
Through visiting an accredited Thinking School, reading around the approach and speaking to a consultant, it was obvious that developing as a Thinking School would undoubtedly support us in developing the four purposes and many of the pedagogical principles that are so vital for Curriculum for Wales. It was unfortunate that the pandemic arrived just as we were preparing to start, meaning we did not begin the journey until January 2021 and had to begin with online delivery.
The Start & Phase One
As a starting point, the Drive Team participated in an introductory workshop and meetings. Initially, we ensured that developing as a Thinking School was properly integrated within our school mission statement. In addition, we researched and discussed the connections between developing as a thinking school and the new Curriculum for Wales. This initial groundwork has ensured that staff are viewing the Thinking Matters approach as ‘who we are’ rather than ‘another box to tick’.
The first phase encouraged us to reflect on our curriculum and pedagogy, considering ‘Are learners equipped with attitudes and skills of a 22nd century learner?’ The initial focus on key aspects of the science of learning led to us setting up professional triads and each person within a triad became an expert in a particular aspect of neuroscience. Our consultant advised us of the foundational importance of understanding these aspects of the science of learning. Over a series of weeks during our sessions, we would meet in our triads and we would each feedback to the group on our particular area of expertise. We also looked to enact some of the key principles in our professional learning such as designing and participating in interleaving tasks in our triads.
These interleaving tasks ensure we keep our focus on developing as a Thinking School, including all staff in building shared understanding. This helps to deal with the common problem of focus becoming diluted or distracted by other things. Therefore, key Drive Team roles were initially;
– Drive the Thinking Matters Approach, motivating staff and ensuring whole school engagement.
– Undertake own research into neuroscience to become ‘school experts’ to support and guide others.
– Coach and support staff to develop a culture a common language of thinking within our school.
When we embarked on phase two, the drive team decided that we would follow quite an explicit process of introducing each of the thinking frames to the children and to ensure consistency across the school. Initially, all eight frames and accompanying actions were introduced and modelled by teachers across the school. As the children gradually became more confident using thinking frames, the use of them has become more child-directed. We can now see the children are beginning to make decisions about which thinking process is most appropriate for the task that they’re undertaking. We are developing a digital portfolio of how the frames are being used in different contexts and with different content. All teachers are adding to this and accessing the portfolio for inspiration and ideas.
Our work in phase 2 has also pushed us to consider the language and tools we use to develop different levels and types of questions. Each phase of the school use Bloom/Anderson’s taxonomy to develop their questioning focus and all teaching staff have ‘Bloom Questioning’ lanyards to refer to and scaffold their own use of questioning. The Question Matrix has become an important tool to scaffold the children’s questioning as well as inform staff planning.
We are currently developing our understanding of the Reflective Lens as a tool to develop inquiry and a culture of curiosity in the children. The Drive Team have created a guide of how to use the reflective lens, giving a range of sample questions we might use or we may encourage pupils to use within the reflective lens built around, ‘How do you know this?’, ‘What has influenced your thinking?’ and ‘Why is it important?’. The Drive Team have also created a Thinking Matters section on our school website to inform parents and other stakeholders of our vision and progress in developing a culture of thinking. Please feel free to take a look here. Thinking Matters | Cadle Primary School
We are excited to be a part of the Thinking Schools Network and recently presented our progress to other Welsh schools on the Thinking journey. Later this year we will embark on phase three of our Thinking School development. We are giving great consideration to the pace at which we move through the Thinking Matters journey, ensuring things are understood and embedded by all within our community. We believe it is vital that developing as a Thinking School is not seen as a quick fix or bolt-on, but needs to be integrated and infused in all we are doing.
Cadle Primary School Drive Team:
Claire Jones (Acting Head Teacher)
Louise Smith (Acting Deputy Head Teacher)
Claire Shoemark (Y2/3 Class Teacher)
Nina John (Y1/2 Class Teacher)
Tom Cole (Y6 Class Teacher)
Arrange a visit to an existing Thinking School and talk to one of our experienced Consultants to see how this approach could work for your school.