Thinking Schools

Thinking Schools

At Hartley Primary Academy we strive to be the best learners that we can. We believe that teaching children about their thinking is very important. This skill means that children can apply their thinking to any situation they are faced with. Not only do we think this skill is important for our children, but for any staff members that work with them also.

We are striving to become a thinking school, which is accredited through the University of Exeter. To do this, we use three different pathways to develop the children’s thinking and to have a whole school thinking ethos.

These pathways are:
Using visual tools – During our lessons, children can use up to 8 different ‘Thinking Maps’ to aid them with their thinking. These maps are used in all subjects – even maths!

Habits of mind – There are 16 different habits that the children need to be aware of. We refer to these ways of thinking in all aspects of school life from walking down the corridor to playing outside at lunchtimes. We also link these to our ‘Stairs to Success’ and the children evaluate how they have achieved those stairs weekly, in their ‘Passports to Thinking’.

Questions for enquiry – We complete this pathway in two different ways. We encourage children to probe further into their learning, by asking deeper questions. We have used our habits of mind and come up with questions that link to these that are used every week. The children in KS2 also partake in a ‘Thinking Family’ every two weeks in which they are mixed between two year groups and they discuss and ask questions about a relevant topic. Some topics have included: Do we have a right to be safe? And China’s latest technology developments and the impact it may cause.

Don’t be afraid to ask your children to continue these pathways at home.

Stairs to Success


We are encouraging our children to become ‘Thinkers’ and one of the most powerful tools we use is our acronym, the STAIRS to success.  This stands for:

S stands for Sensible

T stands for Tenacious

A stands for Aspirational (or ambitious)

I stands for Independence

R stands for Resilience

S stands for Self-Confident



Passport to Thinking


All children have a ‘Passport to Thinking’ in which they identify when they have been:



Aspirational (or ambitious)



Self Confident

across the curriculum.

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