Whitehall Park School
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Contact Us 020 7561 0113
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Whitehall Park School
Ashmount Road
Islington
London
N19 3BH

Thinking Schools

Whitehall Park School has set out on an ambitious journey to place cognitive education or thinking skills at the heart of learning and teaching.

Why teach thinking?

The children we are presently educating will be retiring around 2070.  We have no idea what the world will be like then, and according to many experts, a good number of the jobs our children and young people will be engaged in do not even exist at present.  In such an ever-changing world all children need to develop cognitive competencies which enable them to adapt to a variety of educational, technical, social and cultural changes.  Due to the rapidly changing world and therefor job roles and, teachers need to equip all children with the skills necessary to think and activate their cognitive functions.  It is often better to teach children to think properly in order that they become independent, life-long learners, rather than attempt to teach all the currently available knowledge.

 

What are thinking skills?

Thinking skills refer to an understanding of the thought processes we are using to do things like: solve problems, make decisions, ask questions,  construct plans, evaluate ideas, organise information and create things.Through our curriculum, we strive to develop in our pupils the ability to think critically, collaboratively and creatively and to adopt these skills when reflecting on their own learning. We aim to develop responsible, reflective and resilient individuals with transferable skills essential for lifelong learning.

 

What is a Thinking School?

Professor Bob Burden, the founder of the ‘Thinking Schools’ approach, dedicated his life to research in educational psychology.  He covered a wide range of topics but focused on improving the quality of children’s experience of school.  Bob’s work on the self-image, as learners, of dyslexic children was cited by the Rose report of 2009 and led to positive change in government policy. Bob’s approach to teaching thinking focused on shifting the attitudes towards learning of children, teachers and schools.  Through his research he came up with the Thinking Schools approach.

 

He defined a Thinking School as:

‘An educational community in which all members share a common commitment to giving regular careful thought to everything that takes place.  This will involve both students and staff learning how to think reflectively, critically and creatively, and to employing these skills and techniques in the co-construction of a meaningful curriculum and associated activities.  Successful outcomes will be reflected in student’s across a wide range of abilities demonstrating independent and co-operative learning skills, high levels of achievement and both enjoyment and satisfaction in learning.  Benefits will be shown in ways in which all members of the community interact with and show consideration for each other and in the positive psychological well-being of both students and staff.’ (Burden, 2006)

 

The approach

Whitehall Park has adopted a whole-school approach to the teaching of thinking.  This means that thinking becomes central and explicit and all teachers and students develop a common thinking language and toolbox. As students move from teacher to teacher they will be using the same tools and strategies as part of a coherent and well-planned approach.  As part of this journey WPS will select and embed a number of different thinking tools across the curriculum.  These tools will develop specific types of thinking and thinking processes. The students will develop an understanding of how they think and be able to articulate how they think. Teachers will talk about thinking with their students.

The first thinking tool we have selected is ‘Thinking Maps’ to support cognitive development and provide visual pathways.  Visual tools are symbols graphically linking content information and knowledge.  Through this approach we aim to transform how our children SEE and UNDERSTAND information, knowledge, thinking, and their own learning processes.  Over the course of the year we aim to introduce the children to variety of Thinking Maps.

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