Thinking Skills

Thinking Skills


'Intelligence is something we are born with.  Thinking is a skill that must be learned.'  Edward de Bono

It is hard to comprehend but by the time our current Nursery class enter the job market it is likely to be around 2033!  We can only imagine what the world will look like by then – some of our girls will undoubtedly apply for jobs that do not even exist today.  So how can we best prepare them for the opportunities as well as the trials and tribulations of a world yet to exist?

We are all dedicated to ensuring that our girls receive the highest standard of academic education that will result in each girl obtaining the optimum set of examination results, so we can then bid them farewell as they set off to a leading University.  But we are also very aware that to truly excel in our fast changing, competitive world our girls will need so much more than qualifications alone - they require vital life skills that will ensure that no matter where they go, or what they do, they will always be ready to conquer any challenges they may face.

Enter our innovative Thinking Skills programme which is dedicated to educating our girls about how to best think, and act; it is about developing a winning ‘attitude’ and is one of the defining characteristics of a Northwood College for Girls education.

Our proven techniques equip each girl with the necessary skills to respond positively to new situations; think critically, creatively, collaboratively and independently; and be resilient, strong enough to cope with the challenges presented in our modern world.   

A lot of schools now teach “thinking skills”, but not to nearly the same level and depth as us.  We pride ourselves in being a pioneering school, we championed this area over ten years ago, and have carried out a great deal of research to develop and refine our approach.  We know what works for our girls, and consequently have a far more established and effective programme than our competitors. 

Each member of Northwood College for Girls has been fully trained to use specific teaching and learning techniques that will enable our girls to develop a thirst for independent thinking and learning; our educators are taught Thinking Skills teaching methods and strategies, including Philosophy for Children, meta-cognition and mind mapping

‘Meta-cognition’ focuses on gaining the ability to reflect and understand the way one learns, and adopting an awareness and understanding of your own thought process - basically thinking about thinking! 

We are all passionate about Thinking Skills, and together we work hard to embed thinking and learning skills deeply in to our school ethos and curriculum.

Through our unique programme we teach our girls to understand how they learn best and how to develop and practise good thinking habits, such as, risk-taking, perseverance and resilience. Over the years, the programme gives each girl a comprehensive understanding of herself and her own particular strengths and weaknesses; it forces her out of her intellectual comfort zone and provides her with the tools and techniques to face new problems and situations with confidence.

So, what makes our approach different?

Thinking Skills have been taught at Northwood College for Girls since 2004 and are now deeply embedded in the culture of our school, from Nursery through to Sixth Form.

The approach is both integrated into the way all subjects are taught, and is given dedicated initiatives. Research has shown that this combined approach is the best way to achieve results.

Our programme is progressive so that girls develop increasing sophistication in their understanding and use of the skills and techniques as they grow.

Our programme was originally developed in conjunction with Jane Simister, a renowned expert, author and consultant on cognitive development (

How do we develop intellectual character and independent learning by teaching thinking skills to our girls?

We focus on 16 individual thinking and learning dispositions, such as, perseverance, initiative, empathy, responsible risk taking, critical thinking and resilience.For simplicity, we band the 16 dispositions in to the following six groups:- communication, clarity, courage, curiosity, creativity and compassion.

We adopt a wide range of teaching strategies and techniques, such as, our innovative and exhilarating Deep Learning projects which are designed to enable our students to become more curious and critical learners, and encourage them to find the world around them fascinating and relevant.

There are numerous opportunities for the girls to engage in thinking skills activities  from active thinking workshops such as the Year 7 Learn to Learn workshops and the Year 9 De Bono Apprentice workshops to inter-house competitions; from dedicated events and activity days to seminars; from guest speaker talks to learning journals… and so much more.

By emphasising the development of critical and creative thinking, of questioning and communication, of decision making and problem solving; we believe that our girls gain a far deeper understanding of their subjects whilst taking significant steps forward on the path to becoming independent, perceptive, resilient and enterprising young people.

We take Thinking Skills very seriously at Northwood College for Girls.


Click here to read our latest review from The Good Schools Guide




Click here for a link to our latest Compliance ISI Inspection Report




The quality of the pupils’ personal development is outstanding, with its highly effective emphasis on their welfare, safeguarding and well-being.

ISI Report 2012
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