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Accredited Thinking School

At Holcombe Grammar School we believe passionately in providing our students with the best foundations on which to build their academic and personal success. In doing so we draw on the very latest pedagogic research to place cognition and Thinking Skills at the heart of our teaching and learning provision.

As part of our journey toward being acknowledged as a centre of best practice in this field, we recently gained accreditation as a Thinking School from University of Exeter’s prestigious Cognitive Education Development Unit. We were delighted after we became one of only thirty schools in the country to receive the ‘Thinking School’ accreditation from the University in September 2019, a status we will hold until September 2022. In its report, Exeter University highlighted the strong partnership between the School and the Trust, noting that staff at Holcombe Grammar School have “fully embraced” the Thinking School vision and are “committed to creating a positive learning culture”.

The University of Exeter’s report highlights a wide range of other strengths, including:

  • “Holcombe Grammar School recognises the teaching of thinking as fundamental to developing the skills of persistent, open‐minded and independent, lifelong learners”.
  • “The school prides itself on providing a caring, supportive environment, and this is underpinned by the house and pastoral systems, which ensure that every student has a sense of community and belonging”.
  • “The Regional Governing Body and the Academic Advisory Board are fully supportive of the ‘Thinking School’ ideal and recognise the part it plays in the development and achievements of students as skilled, independent and reflective learners, who embrace challenge and aspire to and strive for  personal excellence”.
  • Schools across the Trust work together to “improve the life chances of all their children and young people, underpinned by a common mission to nurture successful children who are confident learners and can think and act independently”.

What is a Thinking School?

A Thinking School is unique in their focus to share with your child the tools to become a life-long learner, and to develop the best possible habits for success in life. It is an educational community which involves both students and staff learning how to think reflectively, critically and creatively. A Thinking School is more than just a title, to become one the school has to earn the Thinking accreditation from Exeter University.

We want every student in our schools to be inquisitive and confident in themselves. Our thinking toolkit is how we support them through this journey. These tools are used in tandem with an approach to teaching that instils a growth mindest and ‘can do’ attitude. Through their time in a Thinking School, students will develop the right habits to ensure they are successful throughout education and beyond.

More information on Thinking Schools, including our ‘Habits of Mind’ and ‘CoRT Tools’ can be found on our Trust website:

“The philosophy of developing students’ thinking skills is being developed well… evidently motivating students to challenge themselves and step outside of their comfort zones.” – Ofsted October 2014

 Ofsted have also noted how our School’s ‘vision to develop pupil’s thinking skills was having a positive impact on the quality of learning and teaching.’

Thinking Tools and Strategies