Thinking Matters in Northern Ireland

With its easy ‘fit’ with the Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities framework within the Northern Ireland statutory curriculum, the Thinking School approach continues to draw interest from local schools there.

In March 2023, a Metacogntion-Meet was hosted by Ashgrove Primary School, Glengormley, and very well-attended, with several new schools now planning to commence training with Thinking Matters in the upcoming school year. Attendees were warmly welcomed by the Ashgrove students. They all had the opportunity for a learning walk to observe some lessons and take in the impressive learning environment in which use of common metacognitive tools and language were very visible. They then heard from Robert Smith, Principal and several members of the Drive Team about the school’s Thinking School journey and impact so far, as well as hearing experiences from some very enthusiastic P7 pupils.

Ashgrove Primary School

Prior to the Meta-Meet event, Lorna Gardiner, NI-based TM Consultant was delighted to introduce visiting Director of the TM Network, Arabella Northey, to some other local TM Thinking Schools. This included a visit to the beautiful Mourne area in County Down to visit Cumran Primary School, Clough, a well-established TM Hub School. Rhonda Moles, Principal and Leanne Smyth, Drive Team Leader, provided a comprehensive overview of the school’s metacognitive approach and its effects on pupil learning and dispositions. There was also opportunity to visit classrooms and talk with other staff members and pupils about how use of metacognitive tools such as Thinking Frames, Thinking Hats, the Q Matrix and use of Motivational Maps are contributing to pupils’ learning.

Cumran Primary School

A visit to Priory Integrated College in Holywood, County Down on the shores of Belfast Lough followed, with the opportunity to see the Thinking School approach in a post-primary context.  Alison Watterson, Acting Principal and Deirdre Scarlett, Drive Team Leader described the background to the school’s approach and shared interesting documentation of evidence of impact. This was followed by a learning walk around the school with opportunity to observe some lessons and to meet with other DT members. It was interesting to see and hear how an understanding of the Science of Learning and use of metacognitive tools such as Thinking Frames and Habits of Mind have been integrated into units of work and are used in revision techniques and exam strategies.

Deirdre Scarlett (Priory Integrated College) and Arabella Northey

A highlight of both visits was the chance to meet with groups of pupils and to hear the pupil voice directly expressing their views and honest opinions of the benefits of the approach, and sharing examples of how they use metacognitive tools in their own learning and lives,The generosity of all three of the schools to open their doors, the warm hospitality provided and the openness of staff members and pupils to share their practice and experiences truly demonstrates many of the Habits of Mind and reflects the ethos of the Thinking School.

Want to join next one of our regional events next year? Keep an eye on the TSN Events page.

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