Due to being a high-performing specialist status school, Bartholomew School was invited to apply for a second specialism. We decided to bid to become a ‘Leading Edge’ school, part of the Leading Edge Partnership Programme (LEPP). Through this project, schools were given significant financial support to develop innovative projects that they believed were making a positive difference in their school that could also be shared more widely within a partnership with other schools. Our bid was centred on our ongoing developments in teaching and learning through the use of dialogue and enquiry in the classroom (based on the ‘Philosophy for Children’ or ‘P4C’ approach), and also the use of student voice to drive positive change within the school, in particular through our vibrant and active School Council. We were delighted that our bid was successful and decided to encapsulate our unique LEPP project in the name ‘Thinking Voice’.
The overall aim of the Thinking Voice project: Raising student achievement through the creative use of dialogue and enquiry in the classroom and the use of student voice.
We are delighted to have been working with Burford School, Gosford Hill School, The Marlborough School and Didcot Girls’ School as our partner schools for the Thinking Voice project. To find out more about the two main strands of the project, please click on ‘Dialogue and Enquiry’ and ‘School Council’ under the ‘Thinking Voice’ link above.
A few examples of what the Thinking Voice project has supported so far:
Hosting excellent ‘Philosophy for Children’ training courses: These courses are widely advertised within the county and are open to all teachers. They consider how dialogue and enquiry can be used as a highly effective and motivating learning tool. They are particularly well attended by Bartholomew staff and staff from our Thinking Voice partner schools.
School Council: The Thinking Voice project has provided funds to support additional Bartholomew School Council staff posts to further support the excellent work of our students.
Teaching and Learning developments: An extensive student survey was carried at the start of the Thinking Voice project to find out what the student body thought about teaching and learning at Bartholomew. The results were published with staff ideas in the ‘What Makes Good Learning?’ booklet and given to all staff to enable informed developments to take place re teaching and learning.
Learning Lunch: This was for the Teaching and Learning Subcommittee of the School Council to work devising action plans based on the findings from the whole-school student survey.
Thinking Skills: This course is now firmly embedded into the Year 7 curriculum having run successfully for the last four years. It has now been extended into Years 8 and 9, and is designed to support students in their independent and collaborative thinking skills in an enjoyable and active way.
Thinking Activities: These have been introduced into morning registrations for all year groups, and into some Learning for Life lessons. A particular success has been the popular weekly whole-school caption competition!
The project is providing funding for resources and staff development that we believe will improve the engagement and motivation of students in their learning, and therefore raise their achievement.