Let's Think Day - Cognitive Acceleration in Action

Ruislip High School is a Let’s Think accredited secondary school described by the Let’s Think board of trustees as ‘a model of good practice’. The school has taught Let’s Think lessons in English, mathematics and science since 2011. We would like to invite colleagues to join us to learn more about the Let’s Think approach, observe cognitive acceleration in action and have the chance to speak to practitioners.

Come and visit the school, observe Let’s Think lessons and talk to school leaders about the approach on 23rd January 2019 and 14th May 2019. Read more about this opportunity.

Let’s Think Reception Research Project

Thanks to funding from the Institute for Effective Education, four Southwark schools are taking part in a research project exploring the impact of teaching Let’s Think activities on Reception children.

Whilst there is extensive research to demonstrate LT’s impact on pupils over 5, there has not been any research into the impact on Reception.  The research project will involve the four intervention teachers teaching 30 Let’s Think activities to half their class.  A further four schools will act as school level controls, due to the risks of within-class contamination.  Since LT develops teachers’ understanding of progression in mathematics there may be transfer to general teaching.  We are interested to understand the impact that being in a class where Let’s Think is used but not receiving the intervention has on pupil progress, so a within class control group will be used in addition to control schools in which teachers do not receive Let’s Think training. 
If you would be interested in taking part in the extension project in 2019-20, please email

Get involved in a European thinking research project next year

We are looking for schools to support the Assessment Companion in Thinking Skills EU funded research project. 

The project is developing a suite of professional development materials that can support teachers to make thinking visible in the classroom, assess children’s thinking and identify next steps both during and beyond the lesson. It builds on the good practice from Let’s Think, but adds to this with a set of high quality research-informed tools for assessing children’s thinking.

If you would like your school to be involved in this project, you would need to send a senior or middle leader to sessions on Tuesday 15 January 2019 and Thursday 4 April 2019. The leader you send will then bring back materials to use in professional development sessions with teachers, so ideally you would free up 3 or 4 staff meetings between January and April to enable this to happen. For more information, please contact 

Let's Think in English in Vietnam

The British International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam have been working with Michael Walsh since January 2017 to introduce Let's Think in English in Year 5/6 and secondary.

In the recent visit in November 2018 the programme was extended to Year 3 and 4 and the British Vietnamese International school secondary campus. This provided an interesting challenge of teaching Let's Think in English while group work was discussed in Vietnamese. Michael is working on a case study based on the schools' development of the programme and this will be available via the website shortly.

"LTE is now fully integrated at BIS from year 3 upwards. There is general enthusiasm in staff and students alike in engaging with the programme. Teachers often comment on how much students look forward to the lessons and how positively it’s impacted on their own pedagogy. Indeed, many teachers have said that this is the best training they have had in their teaching careers.” Shaheena Pall, EAL Lead and LTE Project Lead.
“The impact that LTiE has had on our students has gone well beyond our expectations. For students who have accessed the programme for nearly 2 years, we have seen a significant rise in academic attainment. Our students have become more articulate as well as understanding and respectful of others’ opinions and views.” Deidre Grimshaw, Head of Primary BIS Vietnam.
Contact to find out more.

Metacognition project 

The Vanguard Learning Trust ( commenced a cross-phase metacognition project with Michael Walsh in September 2018. The course is held at Ruislip High School, a Let's Think accredited school and involves six primary schools and two secondary schools.

The schools are working together to develop their understanding of metacognition in primary and secondary classrooms while using Let's Think in English lessons as the start point for the exploration. The group are meeting 4 times in the academic year and feedback from the initial meeting was positive.
"The training day on metacognition run by Michael Walsh from Let's Think English was an invaluable opportunity to explore teaching approaches and metacognitive resources. It was particularly interesting to explore approaches across different Key Stages. We have since been trialling some of the newer Let's Think lessons in Key Stage Three and students have responded positively, with great depth of thought and purpose. We look forward to the next meeting with anticipation!" 
Steph Keenan, Metacognition Project Lead

Contact to find out more.

CASE is coming back to the Tees Valley! 

Carmel College in Darlington have been successful in gaining a Strategic School Improvement Fund grant to support science in 12 schools from Darlington to Middlesbrough.

The project is led by David Bailey with Alan Edmiston providing the CASE support which will last till Easter 2020. The SSIF Science project has three strands all of which work together to support teachers and the pupils they teach:
  • Strand 1 @ Key Stage 3 - CASE
  • Strand 2 @ Key Stage 4 - Deeper Thinking, a revision skills intervention supporting pupils to use SOLO taxonomy and other research-based approaches to facilitate high quality revision and pupil independence.'
  • Strand 3 - Leadership Lite, a model of leadership that aims to focus the school and departmental leaders on importance evidence-based approaches to school improvement.
The first CASE sessions have just taken place and all schools should have carried out their Science Reasoning Tasks before the end of November. It is early days but watch this space for further details. If you would like to find out more about the SSIF Science project then please contact David Bailey on:

Research and reading


Kuhn, Deanna. (2015). Thinking Together and Alone

Deanna Kuhn explores metacognition in terms of the growing ability to coordinate thinking about the relationship between evidence and claim. Kuhn (2015) also considers the evidence for the effects of group collaborative work.

She explores the crucial questions of in what circumstances and for what purposes group work improves individual learning. Her conclusions are very much aligned with what we teachers try to achieve in the social construction, metacognition and bridging phases of Let’s Think lessons.

Her work represents a well evidenced set of principles, and possible guidelines, that will help Cognitive Acceleration teachers and lesson designers across a range of ages and subjects.
However as a word of caution she continually stresses that the benefits of thinking together need to be ensured by making sure all learners develop the necessary skills to reap these benefits during collaborative work.


Kuhn, Deanna. (2015). Thinking Together and Alone. Educational Researcher. 44(1) 10.3102/0013189X15569530.
Kuhn, D. (2010). What is scientific thinking and how does it develop? In U. Goswami (Ed.),Handbook of childhood cognitive development. Oxford: Blackwell.  (2nd ed.)
Kuhn, D. (1999). A developmental model of critical thinking.  Educational Researcher, 28,16-25.
Kuhn, D. (2007).  Jumping to conclusions: Can people be counted on to make sound judgments? Scientific American Mind, 18 (1, Feb/Mar), 44-51.
Kuhn, D. (2007).  Jumping to conclusions: Can people be counted on to make sound judgments? Scientific American Mind, 18 (1, Feb/Mar), 44-51.

Unpicking the complexity of listening

Let’s Think teachers are well aware that good listening is more than an ability to sit quietly and politely while someone else speaks.  Do our learners know that when they listen they are in the pursuit of understanding?  These recently published sketch-notes, produced for Impact Wales, summarise an article by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman in the Harvard Business Review.
As in the Voice 21 Oracy framework, these sketch-notes clarify how the skills of good listeners range across social emotional (the need to make others feel safe), to physical (remove distractions, make eye contact), to linguistic (be able to form questions) and of course cognitive (ask questions to clarify the speaker’s meaning).

Interview with...


Alex Black, Cognitive Acceleration and Epistemic Inquiry Researcher, Consultant for Teacher Professional Development

I first became aware of Thinking Science CASE programme and materials in 1994. At that time I was teaching Science to grade 6 to 10 in an International school in Zürich. I was so lucky to be trained by my Head of Science, who was being trained as a trainer by Philip Adey. I immediately began teaching the full CASE lessons as we taught grade 6 and 7 classes together over the next 5 years.

From the very beginning we used SRT’s to measure the student Piagetian levels across the secondary school. The coherence and clarity of the whole programme and the individual lessons opened up new possibilities of hearing student thinking and how to further develop it.

I have used the 5 pillar structure, in some form, for just about all of my classes from lower secondary science up to IB Diploma Biology and Theory of knowledge. I have used these pillars to develop the broader epistemic questions about knowledge in particular. Due to the intense epistemic focus of this form of enquiry, metacognition is given even more emphasis than in the cognitive acceleration pedagogy. At every stage this has involved students in monitoring what they know, planning what ideas are needed to apply and extend this knowledge and finally evaluating how we get to know. This means the I have had to constantly model metacognition and scaffold the metacognitive development of the students.
More recently, I led some action research with 10 and 11 year olds in Let’s Think English which produced statistically significant improvements in Piagetian reasoning tasks and also a year later showed marked improvements in the ACER standardised tests in Mathematical Literacy (0.27) , Reading (0.3) , Narrative writing (0.12) and Expository writing (0.42).

I am exploring how LTE can be supported in international schools, gathering further evidence using Piagetian tests, standardised instruments such as CAT4 and ACER. I have also been developing many new science lessons that use CA principles to be coherent with the unit of enquiry aims of the IB Primary years and Middle years programmes.

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