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Critical Thinking for Achievement

The Critical Thinking for Achievement project – Department for Education funded within phase 2 of the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund (TLIF) – provided plan-do-review CPD for over 1,000 primary and secondary teachers of geography and science, to strengthen their subject knowledge and build confidence and capability in curriculum planning and teaching.

Project summary

Between September 2018 and March 2020, the GA and Association for Science Education (ASE) together trained 1,055 teachers from 393 different schools focusing on knowledge application, critical use of data and the construction of evidenced arguments to raise achievement in geography and science. It was particularly aimed at priority schools (primary and secondary schools with Ofsted category 3 or 4) and schools within priority areas (Department for Education category 5 or 6 and Opportunity Areas).

Delivered predominantly through 70 school networks and with a ‘plan-do-review’ structure, the training enabled 10 GA and ASE expert trainers to work alongside local network leaders to support teachers in applying critical thinking techniques in their classrooms.

Download: Critical Thinking for Achievement: Programme Prospectus

Download: Critical Thinking for Achievement course handbook

Download: Critical Thinking in Practice guidance

Project activities and achievements

Drawing on the GA’s previous work on Critical Thinking and underpinned by a robust research evidence based the programme improved teacher capability by:

  • building confidence in curriculum planning and critical pedagogies
  • increasing subject knowledge around data, scientific and geographical concepts and language
  • supporting effective teaching of reformed geography and science qualifications and curricula

It also introduced teaching techniques to help students:

  • gain the geographical and scientific knowledge and skills needed for success in examinations and further study
  • tackle complex issues more independently and construct evidenced argument through social and natural scientific investigation
  • make adept use of data, use evidence critically

The programme had a satisfaction rate of 99% (participants describing the training as good or better) and both expert trainers and teachers found the shared experience transformational.

Read CTfA testimonials

In addition, 19 schools out of the 167 who were originally Ofsted graded 3 or 4 had experienced an inspection by the end of the programme and moved to Ofsted grade 2.  Although it is difficult to attribute this improvement directly to the programme, some Ofsted reports did specifically describe improvements in geography and science in some schools.

“There has been whole staff training too…The benefits of this can be seen clearly in science and geography.” (Melior Community Academy Ofsted report, page 5)

The programme generated over 800 projects where teachers had applied their learning in their classrooms and then reported their experiences to their peers.  Examples of some of these projects are detailed in the article ‘Critical Thinking for Achievement CPD ’.

Project evaluation

The Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund (TLIF) was independently evaluated by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and the Sheffield Institute of Education (SIOE).

The final evaluation report can be downloaded here.

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