Vanguard Learning Trust

Written by Martina Lecky

In 2020 a partnership was put in place between the Let’s Think Forum (LTF) and Vanguard Learning Trust (VLT), a multi-academy trust in the London Borough of Hillingdon comprising two secondary, one junior and two primary schools.  The partnership established a hub which aimed to develop teachers’ classroom practice with the Let’s Think (LT) methodology as well as create a sustainable foundation for the LT programmes at both primary and secondary levels.

The hub was set up during the pandemic and therefore the first couple of years involved online training for staff. It was the first time that the LTF had been able to work jointly with primary and secondary colleagues focusing on the English, mathematics and science programmes. Online sessions were half-termly led by one of the three tutors involved in the hub, Michael Walsh, LT English tutor, Lynda Maple, LT mathematics tutor, and Martina Lecky, LT science tutor (and CEO of VLT). The sessions focused on the theoretical underpinnings of LT including Piaget’s cognitive stage development model and Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development; the evidence base of LT programmes, in particular those of the first programme, CASE; the classroom methodology with examples of how the ‘five pillars’ are facilitated by the teacher, especially questioning techniques; and subject breakouts to consider specific lessons.

I was proud that during the pandemic we were able to launch the LT-VLT hub. Whilst the online sessions limited some aspects of the training in terms of participants’ feedback, they were well attended; allowed teachers to continue to deliver LT lessons; and provided tutors with the experience of leading joint sessions with colleagues.’

Martina Lecky, CEO of Vanguard Learning Trust and LT science tutor


Once LT tutors could begin visiting schools again in 2022, LT tutors focused on lesson observations as an important mediating factor for teachers’ adoption of the classroom practice. This involved demonstration lessons by tutors or lessons by teachers honing their skills with the methodology.


‘I have been very impressed by the talented teachers who have committed to developing their understanding of Lets Think through their involvement in the LT mathematics programme. They display a sound approach to helping their pupils enhance their reasoning skills and confidence as learners. ‘

Lynda Maple, LT maths tutor

As an experienced secondary practitioner, Martina, the CEO, enjoyed the opportunity to teach for the first time one of the LT primary science lessons, on the reasoning pattern of classification, with Ryefield Primary School’s Year 6 students in March 2022, repeating this with other classes in Ryefield and at Hermitage Primary School. The students’ responses to the lessons reinforced Martina’s belief that students should be given regular opportunities to be cognitively challenged in lessons and that through working with their peers and facilitation by the teacher, they can begin to construct their understanding of different concepts.  Wayne Murray, Assistant Headteacher of Ryefield Primary School, commented after the lesson at Ryefield: ‘I really enjoyed it (as did the class) and particularly liked how a healthy competitive element led to great engagement.’


As part of the programme for the hub, 2022-2023, a conference took place on Wednesday 28th June 2023 at Brunel University for the staff who had participated in the training programme. The schedule  involved three sessions which were a review of the year regarding professional development, lesson simulations of the classroom methodology and a discussion on the plans for next year. The highlight was the lesson simulations as participants and the tutors took part in activities which allowed them to consider students’ reasoning, in particular how students respond to lesson challenges. Participants’ feedback was very positive, exemplified by the following: ‘The conference was a great way to connect LT teachers and discuss the next steps for our own schools collaboratively.’ Morgan Casey, Ryefield Primary School; ‘I enjoyed the science demonstration and the English poem/picture correlation. I can see how the right kind of questioning can lead the students to solve the problem on their own.’ Meghana Malegaonkar, Vyners School; and  ‘I thought it was very useful. I feel it would be beneficial for all teachers within the Trust, especially primary teachers, to be given the same information as it helped to understand how Let’s Think works and how we, as teachers, can deliver sessions better.’ Lestacia Stephen, Hermitage Primary School.


The focus throughout 2023-2024 has been on schools working together at a phase and subject level. The tutors’ reflection is that the focus for 2024-2025 will be online sessions where specific activities will be presented to support teachers with planning for the lessons and an encouragement of paired observations in schools. There are also teachers whose experiences to date are likely to lead to them beginning taking on additional responsibility as they move from competent to expert practitioners. Morgan Casey at Ryefield has been invited to take a leadership role and she commented:  ‘One of the most beneficial pieces of CPD I have received has been Let’s Think in English and involvement with the VLT and LT hub. The LT network meetings are a great showcase of good practice from other LT schools. Meanwhile, the LT hub provides staff with a more tailored picture of how staff and students within the Trust engage with LT and where areas for development may be.’