"The pupils are highly successful in their learning; they show thorough understanding and make notable progress in independent thinking and the idea of lifelong learning through innovative educational practice."
The Role of Director of Learning and Teaching and how it impacts on the whole school
At Caterham we believe in not simply preparing our pupils to do their best in exams but also in giving them life skills to help them succeed in whatever they may do in the future.
To achieve this each pupil needs to understand how they best learn and how to think independently and creatively. Our teachers understand and respond to different learning styles and encourage pupils to stand on their own two feet for learning.
We are one of very few schools who have recognised that this requires a focal point in the school and specific programmes and training. Therefore the role of Director of Learning and Teaching was created in 2004. Kim Wells MA (Cantab) joined Caterham School to lead the development of these programmes. His work is not subject specific because it impacts on every area of the curriculum.
The initiatives have included:
- Introducing Study Skills as a taught programme in the First and Second Year. Students cover such areas as Lateral Thinking, Mind Maps and Learning Styles.
- Using Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligence Testing to help students to learn how they learn best.
- Delivering half day courses on memorising, note-taking, speed reading and exam technique to every year group from Third Year to Sixth Form.
- Training pupils in the First Year and Lower Sixth Form in information skills so that they understand how to make best use of reading skills and research techniques.
- Training students in the Fourth Year and Lower Sixth Form in how to use references, and how to avoid the dangers of plagiarism.
- Undertaking regular research through pupil questionnaire and interview to establish and disseminate excellent practice amongst our teaching staff. Kim's research project into the impact of teaching Thinking Skills in the Sixth Form was published as the first chapter in the Headmasters' Conference's "I² - Excellence and Innovation in HMC Schools" (2006).
- Becoming the first independent school in the country to achieve Thinking Schools status from Dr. Edward De Bono in October 2006. As a result of subsequent work as a centre of excellence in thinking we have since been upgraded to Training School status by Dr De Bono himself.
- Introducing an Independent Research project as part of the Sixth Form curriculum. Students select, and investigate in depth, their own choice of topic. They can present their findings in a variety of formats such as an extended essay, a short film or a sustained scientific investigation.
- Running training events for parents to bring them up to speed on Study Skills, the Six Thinking Hats, and Non Verbal Intelligence so that they can fully understand and support our work here at home.
Kim's work at Caterham has led to him delivering training in schools all around the country in how to teach Thinking and how to encourage children to learn independently. He has delivered seminars at major conferences for HMC, GSA and SHMIS. He has also worked with GPs, Magistrates, insurance companies and the Foreign Office on how to manage discussions and how to make decisions.