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October 7, 2019 1:00 pm 7:00 pm

Critical thinking and problem solving

Support your pupils to think deeper about lesson content

  • Do you think your pupils miss valuable opportunities to ‘dig deeper’ into the real meaning of a topic?
  • How can we make critical thinking a habit that all learners take on?
  • What does the research literature say about higher-order thinking?
  • Why it is critical thinking such an important skill to have in the 21st century
  • How can we make sure all of our students are engaging at higher levels?

The significance of engaging pupils in higher-order thinking tasks

All educators enjoy getting their students to ‘think effectively’ and a significant part of the workshop is spent developing classroom approaches that lead to this outcome. A theme that runs throughout the workshop is making thinking visible. This fundamental principle means that we can see thinking happening and by doing so, be in a position to scaffold it. The workshop attempts to draw together strategies into meaningful sequences of learning that have universal, cross-phase applications.

This course is designed for schools who want to develop their cultures of thinking. As well as looking at classroom techniques and strategies, we also unpick how we can make this part of the DNA of our institutions. There is a clear rationale for why adopting critical thinking is imperative for our students. We start by looking at the reasons through an educational lens and also from a wider child development perspective.

Inset Outline

Overview of why critical thinking is so important for our current generation of learners

  • From an educational perspective, what benefits are there for making my students think harder?
  • What do other fields of research say about higher-order thinking and its importance? How can we make cognitive science more accessible to our colleagues?

This topic continues to receive significant attention from policymakers and recent reports from organisations like OECD and the CBI have only increased its popularity. There are clear educational advantages from focusing in this area but what does it mean for the workplace and higher education? Having a clear reason to engage in this topic will help you communicate the importance to colleagues and parents.

What constitutes critical thinking and how do we plan for it to happen?

  • Understand what stops critical thinking happening and what cognitive barriers stand in its way.

What are the main ways we can increase the chance of ‘HOTS’ happening?

  • What do the current thinking frameworks tell us about cognition?

We often talk about critical thinking as something we want to accelerate or ‘make happen’. One argument suggests that, we are all predisposed to think critically but environmental and instructional factors hinder it from happening. In this section of the workshop we look at the cognitive science behind critical thinking and how, at the very least, we need to be conscious of its implications.

What strategies are available to us to make critical thinking happen?
The bulk of the workshop will focus on practical activities that help us ‘teach for thinking’. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and participants will be encouraged to think about how the various strategies can be woven together into engaging activities.

Strategies will include:

  • Visualising thinking – Make it tangible and accessible.
  • Higher Order Questioning – A fresh perspective on common classroom practice.
  • Collaborative Problem Solving – Thinking with others.
  • Reasoning – Critical thinking and manipulating information.
  • Digital tools – Critical thinking in online spaces.

The timing of this inset is in line with our commitment to making outstanding CPD as accessible as possible to schools.

The inset will be delivered in an afternoon session, running from 1.00pm to 3.30pm.

Differentiation and personalised learning

Maximising progress in lessons for all learners

Building effective inclusion and clear progression: raise standards, narrow the gap, challenge all learners

Ensuring value added: strategies for all learners to make significant progress

Challenge the commonly held myths and misconceptions of differentiation, including what is outstanding practice and what inspectors want to see.

Learning should be a deeply personal experience. Children have a huge appetite and capacity to learn, yet all do not learn as enthusiastically or effectively at school. That may well be because schools sometimes fail to understand and meet their particular needs and aspirations. Children come into education from different starting points, with different abilities, aptitudes and expectations. They often learn in different ways, at different paces and styles. Highly effective teaching should meet the different needs of learners: differentiated provision for differentiated need.

This course empowers class teachers to meet the needs of all the learners in their classes whether they be high starters (G&T), below average, SEND or EAL.

We used to teach subjects and classes – now we teach pupils.

INSET outline

Establishing the methodology behind highly effective Differentiation and Personalised Learning

What is the difference between differentiation and personalised learning?

What are the expected outcomes of differentiated provision?

How do we provide for all learners?

Barriers to high levels of progress (High and below-average starters)

Ensuring value-added

The use of data and target setting by the class teacher to plan for differentiation in lessons and SOW

Using school data and assessment systems effectively

Assessment as a construct for personalisation

Target setting to improve progress

Invaluable ideas for realising effective differentiation including:

  • Lesson planning techniques,
  • Assessment for learning devices
  • Questioning techniques
  • Activities to lift the level of challenge
  • Stretching the ablest pupils
  • Planning to extend pupils higher-Order Skills ( HOTS)
  • Strategies to support the less able

The inset will be delivered in an afternoon session, running from 4.00pm to 6.00pm.

Individual Sessions:

Critical thinking and problem solving (A)

Differentiation and personalised learning (B)



London: Exact location of Course will be confirmed at a later date.