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St James's Catholic Primary School

St James's Catholic Primary School

‘Put out into the deep’

Thinking Skills

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.

‘If thinking is how children make sense of learning then developing their thinking skills will help them get more out of learning and life.’ Fisher 2005


How do we teach thinking skills at St James’s?

Our aim is to create a whole school language for pupils and teachers so we can deepen our understanding of how we think and learn. A thinking curriculum is usually based on three aspects:

  • Teaching pupils to use visual tools and strategies (Thinking Maps)
  • Developing pupils understanding of effective learning behaviours or dispositions (Habits of Mind)
  • Encouraging the children to use enquiry strategies – reflecting on deeper questions (Philosophy for Children)

Staff at St James’s have received specialist training from Thinking Schools International who work in partnership with the Cognitive Education Development Unit at Exeter University. We have implemented each of these strategies over the course of an academic year to ensure they are fully embedded and pupils of all ages can apply them in different contexts within the curriculum.

You will find more information about the strategies we use in this section.

Please click on this link to read more information about Thinking Schools International –



Thinking School Accreditation

In June 2016 St James’s became an accredited Thinking School.  Exeter University assessed the school and recognised that the teaching of thinking skills are an integral part of the curriculum throughout the school.  Please read our full report for more information.