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Thinking Skills evidence

Benefits and Evidence

What is the proof that the Thinking Matters approach works? Thinking Matters is an evidence based organisation. We believe that the resource of those we support should be allocated towards strategies that are proven to have a positive impact. We continually gather evidence around the efficacy of our own approach and consider how to improve it from the findings of others.

We are excited that in addition to the anecdotal evidence around the improved “soft skills” of Thinking Schools pupils, there is now hard proof that the rate of academic progress at the accredited Thinking Schools with whom we work is significant:

Academic Progress and Attainment

Research undertaken by the University of Exeter in 2018 shows the Thinking School approach impacts greatly on the progress of pupils in both primary and secondary schools in England as measured by P8, reading progress, writing progress and mathematics progress.

  • In 2018 students from accredited, secondary Thinking Schools in the UK showed the equivalent of a GCSE grade increase against those starting at the same point at non Thinking Schools.

  • In 2018 students from accredited primary Thinking Schools in the UK showed the equivalent to a grade’s worth of progress in their SATs tests against expectations of those starting at the same point at non Thinking Schools.

  • The Progress 8 results of accredited secondary Thinking Schools showed almost 10 months of additional gain. This is a higher impact than any other intervention strategy in the Education Endowment Fund "toolkit" and at a lower cost per pupil than any other.

    See the Abstract and full Evaluation Report

The following animation illustrates the impact of being a Thinking School on progress and attainment.

Key Benefits for Leaders, Teachers and Pupils

  • Develops skilled, independent, reflective learners.

  • Greater motivation (for children and teachers).

  • Improved discipline and attendance.

  • Improved attitudes, behaviours and coping strategies.

  • Creates a vibrant, collaborative learning environment.

  • Arms learners with the skills to be able to succeed in an ever-changing future.

  • Prepares students with the communication and thought processes required for senior school, university and job interviews.

  • Cost to implement is the lowest per pupil, per year of almost any other intervention strategy.

  • The Thinking Matters approach incorporates many of the other cognitive development and attitudinal strategies available - saving the need to pay for any of those separately.

  • Government Inspection Benefits

    On average, a school with a Progress 8 score of zero (the UK national average) would move up to a score of 1 by adopting an accredited Thinking Schools “whole school” approach to thinking. This would put them firmly in OFSTED’s (UK education inspector) outstanding’ category for student outcomes. See Ofsted Comments

Report on the Evaluation of the Impact of the Thinking School 2012

A report carried out by Thinking Schools International and the University of Exeter evaluates the impact of the Thinking School Approach.

Since 2005, fifty five schools in the UK have gained ‘Thinking School’ accreditation from the University of Exeter by adopting a whole school approach to the teaching of thinking, embedding thinking in the heart of the school and its curriculum. A further hundred plus schools in the UK have joined the Thinking Schools network, often facilitated and trained by consultants from Thinking Schools International. In most cases, the journey to accreditation has taken at least three years to achieve. In September 2012, the University of Exeter and Thinking Schools International jointly funded a survey to evaluate the impact of the ‘Thinking School’ approach, as adopted by these ‘Thinking Schools’. This is a preliminary survey, identifying areas for further research and evaluation. Read full report here

A Summary Report of the Regio Comenius funded 'Developing a Thinking School'

Developing a Thinking School: Norway to Northern Ireland’ Project and the NEELB Creating a Thinking School Pilot Project

A two-year Regio Comenius project, led by the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s Curriculum Advisory and Support Service (NEELB) and Oslo Education Authority (UDE), focused on shared exploration of the concept of a Thinking School. The project involved Kestrel Consultancy (previously the UK arm of TSI/Thinking Matters) and University of Oslo, as external partners, and also included participation by staff of six Northern Irish primary schools and four Norwegian schools. The project was completed at the end of 2012 and final report for the project was submitted in June 2013.

Read full report here

The following documentary film was produced to reflect the overall outcomes of the project