Advanced Thinking School

Advanced Thinking Schools - University of Exeter

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls is an accredited Advanced Thinking School with the Cognitive Education Development Unit of the University of Exeter. This means we believe that thinking skills play an important part in helping students learn as effectively as possible and best prepare them for the challenges of public examinations, higher education and employment. For further information about Thinking Schools please visit the Cognitive Education Development Unit of the University of Exeter’s website.

Our vision is to create a natural ethos within the school so that effective learning dispositions become an integral part of our students’ nature. We wish our students to be intellectually sharp, agile thinkers who can think creatively and understand the subtlety & nuance of language and argument. We also want them to be able to draw upon learning experiences & strategies to help solve problems and questions that they do not automatically know the answers to. By concentrating upon the thinking and learning processes we hope our students will be able to develop effective dispositions or ‘Habits of Mind’, for successful learning. ‘Habits of Mind’ is a concept developed by Art Costa and Bena Kallick where sixteen dispositions for effective and life-long learning have been identified. These include Habits of Mind such as persistence, thinking flexibly, asking perceptive questions and being able to ‘think about thinking‘. Understanding the latter helps the person know how to go about solving a problem.

In lessons students will be encouraged to use their thinking skills in a variety of ways including:

  • Developing the ability to ask perceptive and thoughtful questions to enhance learning.
  • Developing Higher order thinking skills: being able to analyse, synthesise and evaluate ideas and information along with creative thinking are all higher order thinking skills.
  • Developing Creative thinking: being able to ‘think outside the box’, to look at problems and issues from different perspectives and offer different, unusual and unique solutions.
  • Using a range of ‘thinking tools’ such as Edward De Bono’s Six Hats and David Hyerle’s Thinking Maps and Tony Ryan’s Thinker’s Keys to support the learning process.

Examples of the use of thinking tools will be evident in students’ work and students are encouraged to use thinking skills techniques to help make their learning as effective as possible and develop their Habits of Mind.

MGGS became a Thinking School in May 2012 and has built upon its previous work to become an Advanced Thinking School in May 2015. In addition to using a range of creative thinking tools in lessons to help students with their learning, the school has an outreach programme which has included students from different local primary schools taking part in thinking skills lessons which have been planned and delivered by MGGS sixth form students.

The University of Exeter report states ‘Clearly much has developed since Maidstone Grammar School for Girls was first accredited as a Thinking School and through thought-full and inspirational leadership combined with a relentless drive for excellence, ongoing self-evaluation and review and the willingness of governors, staff, pupils and parents to embrace new ideas, the school provides powerful examples of effective cognitive education in action.

Read the full report: MGGS – Advanced Thinking Skills Report – May 2015

MGGS Advanced Re-Accreditation Report October 2018.

Visit the Thinking Matters website for more information on Thinking Skills


As an advanced Thinking School we are very proud to work alongside local primary schools in the development of metacognitive skills in their students.

For primary school students we run a series of thinking skills days at MGGS, allowing students to develop thinking and reasoning through the use of De Bono’s Six Hats, Tony Ryan’s Thinkers Keys and David Hyerle’s Thinkers Maps. These days have been a huge success and are well received by teachers and students alike. One teacher stated:

I so want to say ‘thank you’ for the super experiences you provided for our pupils yesterday. It really did give them the opportunity to develop their thinking skills in very different workshops.

Thinking Skills days for primary schools are outlined on our Primary School Events page.

Master Classes

Our Taster Day Master Classes for Year 5  and 6 girls include an introduction to thinking skills.  Please visit the Primary School Events page for further details and booking.