Let’s Think: Cognitive Acceleration in Action at Ruislip High

Written by Leah Crawford

On 23rd January, Headteacher Dr Martina Lecky and her staff opened the doors of their school, their classrooms and their thinking as educators for their inaugural CA in action day.  Ruislip High is an accredited Let’s Think School: the only secondary phase school known to have embedded CA programmes in English, Maths and Science.

Dr Lecky set the tone for the day with her purpose and passion.  For her, Cognitive Acceleration has been the only constant in a career in education that has seen other interventions, policies and approaches come and go.  For her, the development of young people’s thinking is at the core of her moral purpose.  Development is irreversible.  Learning can erode over time.  Might there be an improved leadership focus on development, she invited us to think, now that the phrase ‘pedagogical content knowledge’ sits in the draft Ofsted framework?

The day mirrored the tenor and the tone of Let’s Think, exploring the nested development of leaders, teachers and students.  All participants, irrespective of their prior knowledge and context were invited to construct their understanding of CA through cycles of content introduction, live classroom observation and shared reflection.

So what understanding did I construct through the day?

  1. Even when CA leaders live the principles – or pillars – of Let’s Think, it takes strategy and effort to maintain focus and momentum. Dr Lecky and her team constantly seek to create the next generation of CA champions, rooting all development in classroom practice.
  2. The CA teachers at Ruislip exhibit a core confidence in probing the development of thinking in their subject. The generosity they showed in opening their classrooms and humility in seeking feedback modelled how, for them, competence is always under construction.
  3. The students of Ruislip High modelled the values and principles of CA in their conduct and discourse. They take the risk to open up their thinking to others and value the ideas of others.  They show the tenacity to work with difficulty.  They thrive on being asked not just what they think, but why they think that and how they arrived at an answer.  They are constructing how to work together with purpose and rigour as much as what and how to think in an academic discipline.

As a Let’s Think in English Tutor, I walked away inspired and conflicted.  Of course there were strong similarities between the English, Maths and Science lessons we experienced with Year 7, but there were differences too.  Reflecting on those differences has opened up a new and challenging ‘disequilibrium’ in my own understanding.

Whether you are a teacher or leader, a CA expert or novice, Ruislip High School’s ‘CA in action’ days won’t fail to inspire or challenge your thinking. If you would like to attend next year’s CA in action day, email [email protected].