National Thinking Classroom Awards

New National Thinking Classroom Awards, accompanying the Thinking Classroom Programme at Teaching Times and The Philosophy Foundation Specialist Philosophy Teachers in schools.

There is no cost for applying for an award and there are two pathways to gaining an Award: if you are a Philosophy Foundation partner school that has a TPF-accredited specialist philosophy teacher working with you, or if you undertake the Teaching Times, Thinking Classroom Programme.

Specifically for schools that want to develop pupils thinking skills through philosophical enquiry and questioning, and the teaching of critical thinking and metacognition, an innovative new programme and Award, developed and supported by award-winning educational charity The Philosophy Foundation and leading school resources provider Teaching Times.

Schools who have been granted Awards can be found on our National Thinking Classroom Awards page.

A glimpse into what the National Thinking Classroom Award means for a school:

The best thinking takes place in a collaborative classroom, where pupils are all aiming to better understand the subject matter rather than individually compete to give the right answer. 
Good thinking goes hand in hand with good questioning. Even when we are thinking on our own, we question ourselves. In class questions help students to reflect on and re-evaluate their own and others' thoughts to move beyond their initial assumptions into a more nuanced position and deeper understanding.

Critical thinking needs demystifying for teachers and pupils. Words like argument, analysis, conceptualise, synthesis and evaluation are used but what do they mean? And how can we teach them? Through years of practice and research on The Philosophy Foundation’s method of philosophical enquiry TPF have answered these questions and are already delivering change in schools across the UK. 

The National Thinking Classroom Awards are set up to support schools to enable students to think philosophically – that is, to think well for themselves, to help them guard themselves against fake news, propaganda, and the influence of others.

The Awards celebrate and support schools that provide a ‘space to think’ for pupils to practice thinking critically and hone skills that they can then apply across the curriculum, and a place to use their democratic voice and to learn to use it responsibly.

A National Thinking Classroom Award school allows pupils to practice thinking well and to develop critical thinking skills to help them do so, but mostly, it gives pupils permission to think for the sake of thinking. 

"[Philosophy should be compulsory at primary level] Children are always asking the question ‘why?’ and we want to encourage that questioning all the way through. We see the children using philosophy in all their other subjects and it has improved behaviour because the children learn to respect each other’s opinions."  

Sharon Lynch, Headteacher, St. William of York

Philosophy traits spill over into other curriculum areas. Children are actively encouraged to ask questions and challenge. In a society which strongly focuses on the correct and incorrect (especially with so many exams and tests in schools) I feel it important to show children there is another way of learning and finding out, and those who have mastered the art of questioning are on an exciting life path."

Karen Large, Primary Teacher, Holy Trinity School

TPF Specialist Schools Requirements

Award Requirements for Schools that have a TPF-accredited philosopher working in them.

Any school that has a TPF-accredited specialist philosophy teacher working with them on a regular basis can apply for an award.

Bronze Award

For partner schools that have weekly philosophy sessions with TPF, and who have embedded the thinking across one Key Stage or more with, for example, a staff meeting for all staff, or have had philosophy over a long period of time and staff are fully engaged in the process.

Silver Award

For partner schools that have regular philosophy as above, but have also trained one member of staff to associate teacher level or similar or have had the critical thinking and metacognition programme within the school.

Gold Award

For partner schools that have embraced whole school practice with full training with TPF, and all teachers practice regular enquiry or philosophy in their classroom alongside the descriptive teaching of critical thinking and metacognition as per our programme.

Thinking Classroom Programme Requirements

Award requirements for those that are training through the Teaching Times online platform

Any school that has a staff member who has completed the training can apply for a National Thinking Classroom Award. There is no cost to applying.

Awards are given to the school but is carried by the members of staff. So, a staff member who was trained while in a different school may apply for the award for their new school, providing all the requirements are met.

Bronze Award

  • A member of the Senior Leadership Team must have completed the programme
  • Evidence of a Staff meeting run by the member of the SLT who has completed the programme

Silver Award

  • Most class teachers are enrolled on the programme
  • One teacher to have completed the programme
  • A member of the Senior Leadership Team must have completed the programme
  • One member of staff to have completed the accreditation training (they can also be the teachers or SLT above (Bundle Option 2)

Gold Award

  • All class teachers are enrolled on the programme
  • Two teachers from different Key stages (or equivalent) have completed the programme
  • A member of the Senior Leadership Team must have completed the programme  
  • Two members of staff have completed the accreditation training (they can also be the teachers above) (Bundle Option 3)