It’s Official – We are a Thinking School

November 17, 2016 | Girls’ Preparatory

It’s Official – We are a Thinking School

We are excited to announce that St Stithians Girls’ Preparatory have met the requirements outlined by the Cognitive Education Centre at the University of Exeter for accreditation as a Thinking School. This year marks the schools’ 21st birthday. This wonderful synchronicity brings together a celebration of learning.

Read the Sandton Chronicle article here: Sandton Chronicle article - 18 November 2016

On the 20 May 2016, we were visited by Professor Lena Green, a representative from the University of Exeter. This international accreditation affirms our belief in excellent teaching practice. We are incredibly proud of this achievement. The accreditation also encourages a relationship with schools within a national and international network to collaborate and share experiences. The opportunity for action research and contribution to global education improvement is both exciting and necessary.

We see this as a landmark which points us in the direction of continuing a Thinking Schools journey, one where we may be able to make a difference to surrounding schools and hopefully one which can make a difference in education within the South African context.

Our teachers have always been given the opportunities to develop themselves as lifelong learners, investigating all options applicable to excellence in education. Along this journey, the academic curriculum has included aspects of inclusive education and cognitive education based on constructivism and experiential learning.

In 2011, after exposure to several cognitive education conferences, the Girls’ Prep committed to becoming a Thinking School, accredited by the University of Exeter. We believed this journey would give our curriculum direction and focus and assist us in our path towards teaching thinking skills as a whole school language. It was also at this point that we started analysing our benchmark assessments with particular interest in the application of explicit thinking skills.

After a visit to the UK and several conversations with schools already accredited through Thinking Schools International, we began an exciting journey to where we are now, 5 years later. The greatest progression, I believe, is that we have moved from being ‘tool’ focused to focusing on developing a Thinking Culture at the Girls’ Prep. We believe that thinking cannot only be seen in our planning, our files, and the work which children showcase, but rather in our dialogue, our assessment, our feedback and relationships with parents.

With the introduction to the MeLT (Mobile e-Learning and Teaching) programme, technology has also changed the scope of education for us. Now more than ever, we realise the importance of creating a thinking culture where each child understands her value and responsibility to the learning process, and where each teacher is able to facilitate a process of collaboration, communication and creative thought.

Our staff development programme has included whole school strategic planning, Thinking Maps, TASC, Solution-Focused Thinking and more recently Philosophy for Children (P4C). Our established co-ordinators and drive team, as well as interested staff have attended training on the Harvard Thinking Routines, De Bono, Habits of Mind, Blooms Taxonomy, The Layered Curriculum, and a Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics. Feedback on these conferences is regularly shared with our teaching staff.

The accreditation process serves as a measurement and a reflective pause in our journey. The process involves a rigorous analysis of curriculum planning and thinking skills integration. Although we know that our girls are confident, self-motivated and engaged, we still endeavour to find ways to look for authentic evidence that an implementation of a cognitive approach to curriculum has enabled the girls to learn more effectively.

 

 

Thinking Leaders