The Cavendish School’s Thinking Skills Programme

We put Thinking Skills at the heart of our approach to teaching and learning.

Working with Educational Consultant Jane Simister, we have identified the 17 Thinking Skills listed below. We teach these explicitly in Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education and they are implicit across our curriculum.

In this way, we aim to prepare children for a future in which their academic ability will need to be matched by the ability to tackle and overcome the many and varied challenges that they will face throughout their lives.


“Intelligence is not fixed. We shape our brains with every new experience we encounter, every challenge we overcome and every risk we take. And given this happens most powerfully during childhood, the message for parents and teachers is this: the difference you can make to children’s lives, to their futures, is extraordinary. Raising children who can confidently and happily make the very most of their potential in an exciting but unpredictable world is not something we can leave to chance.” (Jane Simister)





The P4C Programme ( is one of the School’s strategies for opening up children’s learning through enquiry and the exploration of ideas. All our [teaching?] staff are trained by P4C in delivering this programme throughout the School.
P4C improves children’s critical, creative and rigorous thinking. It helps to develop higher order thinking skills, improve communication skills and helps children learn to co-operate with others. Children learn to reflect before speaking so that they can say what they really want to say with accuracy.

P4C helps children acquire the ability to:

  • Concentrate
  • Think beyond the obvious
  • Listen and evaluate
  • Form their own opinions

Children carry the skills they acquire in P4C through to all areas of the curriculum to great benefit.


The Cavendish School Thinking Skills

  • Initiative – a willingness to be independently-minded, to think ahead and work things out for oneself; to be resourceful, to organise oneself well and not rely on others to be told what to do
  • Ambition – motivation, a desire to aim high and set clear goals; a willingness to put in lots of effort and to try to be the very best one can be
  • Self-assurance – the confidence to deal positively with difficult or unexpected situations; to do one’s best to remain calm and composed; to believe in one’s own capabilities and to communicate to others with fluency, clarity, expression and persuasiveness
  • Curiosity – an eagerness to ask questions and to explore beyond what is merely required; to be investigative; to discover, learn and understand new things
  • Originality – the inclination to visualise; to make connections; to be creative with one’s thoughts rather than to think within conventional boundaries; to think laterally to generate novel ideas and solve tricky problems 
  • Focus – the willingness to be careful, accurate and thorough; to pay attention to detail and avoid silly mistakes; to concentrate well and become absorbed in what one is doing
  • Persistence – the determination to stick with it when situations are challenging and to recognise the importance of intellectual struggle; a willingness to seek alternative ways of doing things when one comes up against an obstacle
  • Resilience –the instinct, sense of balance and humour to deal positively with failure; to recognise that everyone stumbles but that successful people deal better with this; to use difficulties as learning experiences and opportunities for a new direction
  • Reflectiveness – an inclination to review, to ponder and to consider methods and approaches that have been tried; to analyse both successes and failures with a view to making the most of one’s potential
  • Risk taking – the courage to take a chance rather than to choose the easy option; to try new challenges and push oneself to develop new skills, even when success may not be guaranteed
  • Flexibility of mind – a readiness to be open-minded, to recognise alternative perspectives and welcome novel ideas and viewpoints; to adjust one’s beliefs and change one’s mind in the light of new evidence and arguments
  • Good judgement – a desire to avoid gullibility; to use reason and think critically; to assess options carefully and think about the value of ideas and information before deciding who and what to believe and what to do in different situations
  • Collaboration – the capacity to work productively with other people, to pool talents and build collective solutions; to know when to seek help from and when to support other people; to judge effectively when to speak up and when to compromise
  • Empathy – a willingness to listen to others, to value and to try to understand their position, feelings and points of view
  • Consideration – to think carefully before responding and acting 
  • Effective Communication – the ability to package and transfer thoughts and ideas to others
  • Integrity – doing the right thing, even when no one is watching