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Thinking School Process

Whether you are seeking accreditation as a Thinking School or not, our Thinking School Approach is designed to support you in successfully adopting a whole school approach to the teaching of thinking and intelligent learning behaviours.

All work towards becoming a Thinking School is underpinned by three guiding principles:

  1. All learners have innate abilities to think in a variety of ways.
  2. Active transfer of thinking processes to content learning is key.
  3. Student-centered models are needed for improving thinking.

In practical terms, the first step is essential time spent with the Leadership team, exploring the school's context and providing advice on selecting the right drive team to implement the school's individual strategy towards becoming a thinking school. Training follows, which presents the tools, strategies and pedagogy required to take our approach into every classroom across your organisation. The training is complemented by unlimited support to leadership and the drive team in implementing change

The following table gives a outline of the consultation process and our approach.


  • Initial Consultation: Our work starts with time spent between a Thinking Matters adviser and the School Head and Senior Leadership team. We explore your school’s context and the purpose of your interest in adopting the change to a whole school approach to the teaching of thinking. We provide input to your plan to bring about that change, advise on selecting the right drive team to implement your strategy, how best to evaluate its effect and how the approach supports government inspection requirements.

Phase One

  • Day 1 - Action Plan: Once your drive team has been selected we spend the first Day at your school, sharing best practice from the schools we have worked with on how to implement successful change. The Drive Team Day introduces our approach to the teaching of thinking and learning as well as some of the practical, classroom based strategies that can be used to embed thinking and intelligent learning behaviours across the whole school. Following the Drive Team Day we continue to provide support as your Drive Team prepares it's Thinking School Action Plan and the best approach to introduce the vision to the whole school staff.
  • Days 2 - Once the Action Plan is agreed, we return to the school for the Development Day.  The day will be based around Developing the Cognitive Coach and Understanding skilful questioning and  Effective Feedback and covers in-depth training of the relevant tools and strategies for the Drive Team.

Phase Two

  • Day 3 - Developing Metacognition: Thinking Processes and Visual Tools.  Further in-depth training introducing Metacognitive Visual Tools and Thinking Processes across the School.
  • Day 4 - Deepening Understanding: Developing Metacognition: Thinking Processes and Visual Tools. We work with you to review and support the embedding of the metacognitive processes across the whole school.

Phase Three

  • Day 5 - Developing Metacognition: Introducing Intelligent Learning Behaviours - through Habits of Mind.
  • Day 6 - Developing Metacognition: Motivation and Deliberate Thinking Practice.

Phase Four

  • Thinking School Accreditation: With University of Exeter
  • Advanced Thinking School Accreditation: With University of Exeter


  • Familiarisation:Each training day is followed by a period to time for the Drive Team to familiaries themselves with the relevant tools and strategies. Thinking Matters will then provide a follow up day to address any problems, issues and confirm understanding.  Once the Drive Team feel they are ready they can start training the staff and embedding the approach across the whole school.  It can take at least two terms, if not a whole school year to fully embed each of the Development approaches.

  • Ongoing Support: Throughout the process of becoming a Thinking School we continue to work with your leadership, drive team and whole school staff by providing support on implementing and sustaining the appropriate change process, evaluating its effects and providing training expertise on the thinking tools, behaviours and pedagogy that underly the Thinking Matters approach.

Take a look at our brochure outlining the Thinking Matters Approach and how we work with your school.

View Brochure