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Research School Network: My Metacognition Takeaways Jeavon Leonard, a middle leader at Portswood Primary School, identifies his key takeaways from our metacognition programme

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My Metacognition Takeaways

Jeavon Leonard, a middle leader at Portswood Primary School, identifies his key takeaways from our metacognition programme

by HISP Research School
on the

Takeaway 1: Consistency of approach


Ok…Here’s the thing about metacognition, the big take away, there is nothing in it that, as professionals, we don’t already know or that we don’t already do (in parts).

If that is the case, then why do we need to proceed further with it? For me the answer is in that tiny caveat in part’.

We know the importance of:

  • Activating prior learning
  • Understanding where the learning fits into the wider schema
  • Reviewing the strategies that are available
  • Reflecting on how effective the strategies that we have chosen are
  • Motivation and engagement

What we don’t always do, as a profession, is to ensure that our planning and teaching reflects all these strategies consistently. We have all delivered the lessons when we just want to get on with it, or where, as time becomes the pressing issue within a lesson, the summarising of how effectively we have learned has been pushed in favour of task completion.

That is where the 7‑step model can give structure to developing a consistent approach to developing metacognition.

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Take away 2: Transfer of…


Stand and deliver – teachers much like Adam Ant are not the dandy highwaymen of the classroom. There needs to be a transference of ownership of the learning process from adult to pupil.

This can be supported through clear modelling and explicit teaching of a strategy, coupled with the explanation of what is being done and why (and this is where some of the mathematic techniques developed by Craig Barton in can be useful e.g. silent teacher, variation theory).

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The importance of the model and being the voice of the learner is highlighted further at this stage. Take the idea of reasoning in maths, if I don’t have the voice of the mathematician (“well I know that there are two units of measurement shown, it would be easier to solve this if they were all converted to the same unit.”), then the likelihood of selecting the correct strategies for solving are surely reduced.

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Take away 3: Subject knowledge…


When looking at the myths of metacognition’ this resonated. The important building block of subject knowledge

a student can use metacognitive planning strategies when drafting a GCSE essay about Shakespeare. But without an understanding of Shakespeare’s plays, language, and the relevant social context, the essay will not be successful.’

Metacognition and cognition display a complex interplay as pupils learn.
We should look to develop both concurrently.


This sat comfortably with our school’s current take in maths:

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Take away 4: Cognitive load


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We need to ensure that pupils are supported in managing the demands of the learning that we are placing upon them.

The model shared on A Chemical Orthodoxy – Simplifying Cognitive Load Theory’ provided an explanation that can be applied throughout education.

Thinking of the pressure of task demand as a pressure downwards (increased load) on a scale and the resources we can put in place to deal with this available resources’ will alleviate that pressure (decrease load).

This model also emphasises that what can decrease load is well within the reach of the class teacher.

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Take away 5: Shared understanding…


Finally, if we are to make a move as a setting to prioritise the development of metacognition then we need to develop a shared understanding of how learning happens.

Without this are we assuming that it just happens? Could it be magic?

With it we can tailor our practice and make the time that we have with students (which is of course less than we would traditionally have) more effective.

Every stakeholder in an organisation should have an understanding of how pupils learn; this way pupil learning can be more effectively supported.

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