The EEF and Implementation: Metacognition and Self-regulated Learning

In this article, we explain how the Thinking Matters approach follows the best research-informed strategies for the implementation of metacognition and self-regulated learning and how this relates to the EEF’s 'Putting Evidence to Work – A School’s Guide to Implementation'.

Thinking Matters work with you to shape your strategic plan :

Implementing Lasting Change

For almost 20 years, Thinking Matters has worked with schools to develop metacognitive and self-regulated learning. The approach we take is born from expertise and experience in helping schools visualise, plan and implement effective strategies to grow the metacognitive and self-regulating capacities of young people across the UK and abroad. 

Supported by the publication of the EEF’s Guidance Report on Metacognition and Self-regulated Learning, this is rightly seen as a key component in effective teaching practice and should be seen as a critical element in a school’s pedagogical development.  

The Challenge of Implementation

An uncomfortable truth: affecting whole school change which leads to lasting improvement is not easy. Implementation plans are often conducted with the best of intentions but are prone to ‘fade’ and can lose momentum, often as a result of competing priorities. Successful change programmes not only depend on the ‘what’ but also the ‘how’ and most critically the ‘why’; leading to a considered and practical approach that manifests itself over time into daily practice. Since 2004, Thinking Matters have developed a tailored approach, bespoke to the needs of each school, that has a demonstrable impact for those who wish to develop metacognition and self-regulated learning.

Metacognitive tools, strategies and resources for impactful implementation

Thinking Matters provides in-depth consultancy and training for schools looking to develop a lasting culture of metacognition and self-regulated learning. Expert TM consultants, who are themselves current or former school leaders, support schools in establishing change programmes that lead to transformative improvements in metacognitive pedagogy and practice, with tangible benefits for both learners and staff. Many schools go on to become an accredited Thinking School with the University of Exeter

At Thinking Matters we provide a fully tailored programme of implementation that is designed to help schools to become a Thinking School, should they wish to take this route. What is a Thinking School?

In 2021, the EEF published their updated School’s Guide to Implementation

Here, we describe the Thinking Matters approach to implementation and how this is mirrored in the EEF recommendations.

1. Foundations for Good Implementation

Working closely with senior leaders, we help to identify the school’s vision for their learners; the metacognitive skillsets and learning dispositions that are critical to future success.

Consideration is given to how this will complement existing school priorities and how this can become a meaningful strand within the school’s development plan and critically, how appropriate time and resource are allocated to see the process through to completion

The consultant provides detailed advice on the selection of the ‘Drive Team’: the staff leadership group drawn from across the school, tasked with facilitating whole-school change over time.

Multi-Academy Trusts:

Thinking Matters follow a 'Training of Trainers' model for Multi-Academy Trusts, federations and school clusters. Representatives from each of the participating schools are trained in the format and content of the programme, so that they are fully equipped to disseminate this to the Drive Teams within their own settings. The consultant provides ongoing support for the group and also with each individual school.

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2. More Foundations for Good Implementation

Informed by implementation science, we help schools form a ‘Drive Team’- a selected group of individuals from across the school or trust who will help embed metacognitive tools and strategies. We help school leaders look in depth at the considerations senior members will need to address, including the climate and conditions in which the Drive Team will operate.

Pictured: Shiplake College Drive Team

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3. Explore

Early in the programme, we work with the Drive Team on defining the school’s metacognitive learner (or ‘meta-learner’) and consider the steps required to achieve this. In doing so, we start to shape the school’s Thinking School action plan. As part of this process, we explore:

  • Metacognition and self-regulation and the evidence of what works
  • Establishing the initial setting and starting points
  • Baselining activities and methods for monitoring progress
  • Desirable metacognitive strategies and tools
  • The role of the Drive Team as agents of change

Pictured: Thomas's Clapham Drive Team

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4. Prepare

Metacognitive strategies, tools and training plans are identified within the action plan and 'robust monitoring and evaluation strategies are formalised to enable the recording of evidence of progress and impact.

Explicit training is provided for the Drive Team and for the whole staff, tailored to the needs of the school to help build knowledge and understanding around the Science and Language of Learning and the principles of metacognitive, self-regulated learning.

Three Pillars to Build a Culture of Metacognition

More on Evaluation Strategies
5. Deliver

The Drive Team will have identified the most effective strategies that will lead to lasting impact. In depth training is provided for these tools and strategies. The training is designed with implementation in mind- with time built in for pedagogical coaching, practice, rehearsal and review between training events.

Facilitated by the Drive Team and with unlimited support from the TM consultant, training includes:

  • Understanding thinking processes
  • Embedding metacognitive tools and strategies
  • Developing the language of learning for staff and students
  • Monitoring and evaluating impact

Pictured: St John XXIII, London

Selecting the tools and strategies
6. Sustain

A critical element of successful implementation is sustainability over time. With this in mind, Thinking Matters provide additional support for schools and Drive Teams. This includes membership of the Thinking School Network.

This offers:

  • continued access to the most recent research and developments in metacognition,
  • case studies and best practice from member schools,
  • discounts on further training and consultancy
  • TSN national and regional events.
  • new-staff induction training packages for Thinking Schools
  • access to software and resources to support Thinking School Accreditation
  • continued access to digital resources and apps to support students develop as independent learners.

The Thinking Schools Network (TSN) is a member driven organisation run by Thinking Matters where like-minded schools and practitioners from across the globe connect and facilitate the sharing of best practice.

The list of the membership benefits can be found here: Premium Membership 2023

Regional Metacognition Meets

The Thinking Schools Network
The Festival of Metacognition 2024

The Festival of Metacognition draws together, in one place, those with a shared passion for developing metacognitive, self-regulating learners.

~ Gain unparalleled insights from cutting edge researchers and thought leaders ~

~Take home classroom strategies from expert practitioners ~

~ Share ideas with leaders and teachers from across the Thinking School Network ~

Annual Festival of Metacognition, London

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Festival of Metacognition 2024: Find out more about keynote speakers and expert workshops

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