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Wellbeing Matters

By Claire Lawton, Assistant Headteacher and Year 3 teacher, Danescourt Primary School, Cardiff

Supporting Health and Wellbeing through Metacognitive Visual Tools.

Who knew what was around the corner? Pupils’ emotional wellbeing has long been at the forefront of education – now so more than ever. The world in which our pupils are growing up, is, essentially different from anything we have known or experienced. Alongside this, we find
ourselves in uncertain times.The onset of a pandemic across the world has galvanised educational establishment thoughts on how best we can support pupil wellbeing, not knowing what lies ahead. What we do know is that metacognition will play a vital role.

Here at Danescourt Primary School we found ourselves in this exact situation. We decided that harnessing the power of metacognition, and in particular visual Thinking Frames, would be crucial in supporting wellbeing both during the lockdown period and as pupils returned to school.

As a starting point, we revised our online contextual learning packs to include thinking tools and strategies to begin the recovery. The use of the Defining Frame was invaluable as a baseline tool and as a final assessment. It provided staff with an insight into pupil thought processes at a distance.

Sammy Sloth


We took this idea further and developed a series of lessons linked to the pandemic based on an initial text ‘Sammy Sloth Goes Back to School’*. This starting point provided a means of engaging with pupils about their experiences during this time, scaffolded by metacognitive visual thinking frames. This was invaluable in terms of measuring their wellbeing, and in particular, their emotions.

The school is currently undertaking a body of work which will complement the already established emotional literacy programme. The use of metacognitive visual tools will provide a window into pupil thought processes, making thinking explicitly visible. This is a holistic approach to pupil wellbeing linked to the Four Purposes – Health and Wellbeing strand. Icons have been produced with pupil input to encompass mind, body and soul.

Alongside this, staff undertake assemblies through the week and, where appropriate, this is supplemented by the relevant Thinking Frame. The approach undertaken has already paid dividends. Pupils have returned knowing that we value them as a whole and that we will continue to work alongside them to help with their welfare, happiness and security.

Claire Lawton
Asst Head & Yr 3 Teacher
Danescourt Primary School

Many Congratulations to Claire, her Headteacher Judith Davies, and all the team and pupils in Danescourt Primary School who have recently succeeded in being accredited as an Advanced Thinking School by the University of Exeter.

Thinking Matters are also delighted to inform you that Danescourt have generously shared a detailed case study including the series of lessons based on the ‘Sammy Sloth Goes Back to School’ text, with examples of pupil work and an e-copy of the book.  These are available for Thinking Schools Network members - in the Classroom Resources - Primary.

Become a Member of the Thinking Schools Network and take advantage of our FREE Consultancy to review where your organisation is in terms of ‘whole school metacognition' - amongst a raft of other invaluable benefits including great classroom resources.See full details here

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