What’s a good way to develop Sustained Thinking at Key Stage 2?

‘No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.’ (Voltaire):


The practice of ‘Sustained Shared Thinking’ has long been practised within Early Years settings.


Sustained Thinking is strongly associated with high quality teaching and learning and it is known that children who engage in sustained shared conversations are more likely to do well in school and in life generally. Sustained Thinking develops a range of skills: speaking and listening, problem solving with others, offering opinions and giving clear reasons etc.


As children progress through the primary years we are more likely to call this Philosophy or Thinking sessions, Circle Time, PSHE, or something similar.  It will most certainly feature in many schools’ Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural curriculum.


So -  ‘What might a Sustained Thinking programme at Key Stage Two look like?


My experience has shown that choosing a 'Big Theme' - like ‘HAPPINESS’  or ‘BEAUTY’ - is an effective way to plan for a series of sessions; a way to support children to focus and really deepen their social/thinking skills over a period of time.

I would plan for a series of sessions in quite a ‘loose’ way – looking to address some specific social/ thinking skills, but leaving plenty of room for children’s own interests, thoughts and lines of enquiry.


This grid includes some of the skills and learning dispositions I might plan for – the expectations would obviously differ depending on the ages and stages of the children.


The skills to be addressed can be negotiated with the children and then planned into each session accordingly.


E.g. ‘Today we are going to focus on getting better at listening to each other.’

Or ‘In this session someone is going to have the job of noticing whether we are getting better at giving good reasons for what we say’


Explaining / giving reasons Listening to others Asking ‘good’ questions Logical thinking
Imagining /creative thinking Disagreeing politely and reasonably Accepting another point of view and/or changing your mind as a result. Problem solving
Thinking independently Cooperative learning Developing concentration Being creative in thinking – taking risks
Looking after others in the group who are less confident Turn taking / patience Building on what others have said Appropriate body language / postures in the session



Much of this reasoning is what led to our latest resource:

‘WHAT Do We Think About … HAPPINESS :  A Thinking Box of Creative Ideas for Guided Thinking, Reading and Writing at Key Stage 2


happiness box photo

What Do We Think About HAPPINESS?

The box contains a wide variety of stimulus materials; photographs, posters and also includes a specially commissioned short story, written with the development of inference, deduction and higher order reading skills in mind.



The 32 page teacher booklet is packed with starter questions and ideas which can easily build into a series of lessons over a term or more.




For more information click the photo to visit the webpage where you can download the introduction to the teacher’s booklet and view the contents of the box in more detail. http://www.thinkingchild.org.uk/what-do-we-think-about-happiness-a-thinking-box-of-ideas-for-developing-reading-and-thinking/


Alternatively email: info@thinkingchild.org.uk

Or give us a ring on 01604 491511




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