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EngagementLet’s Think in English is a teaching programme created since 2009 to help young people develop the reasoning skills needed for success in English. As soon as they have learned how to decode letters, words and sentences, they need to develop higher-order reading skills such as inference, deduction and analysis. This gradually leads through the key stages to the ability to recognise and discuss how language can be used to create features such as characterisation, mood, tone, pace and irony and how texts can be structured for various effects.

Let’s Think in English draws on research by Piaget and Vygotsky that young people learn best when exploring ideas together. The lessons are based on structured challenge and include the development of understanding through discussion (social construction), problem-solving (cognitive challenge) and structured reflection (metacognition) which makes pupils more aware of their thinking processes and how they think most effectively.

The programme consists of suites of high-interest lessons all using authentic English texts – fiction, poetry, non-fiction and film – with lessons appropriate for each key stage from KS1 to KS4. They are designed to be used fortnightly and may be used in any order, as part of the scheme of work or independently. The lessons stimulate the reasoning patterns which underpin deeper understanding of English relating to the writer’s intentions narrative structure, figurative language, symbolism, genre, etc. They can lead to written work if the school wishes.

How Let’s Think in English works

The lessons systematically develop pupils’ skills of inference, deduction and analysis, increasing their confidence, resilience, understanding and ability to express their ideas. They provide experience of ‘verbal drafting’ which develops pupils’ ability to draft analysis, answers in exams such as SATS and GCSE.

The programme works well with pupils of all abilities and particularly helps less able pupils and those with EAL. Teachers repeatedly tell us how these thrive and make specially good progress.

Each lesson has a full lesson plan and Powerpoint. As teachers become familiar with using them, they say the experience improves their own teaching and increases their self-confidence. The lessons provide models of good teaching which teachers enjoy and appreciate.

Let’s Think in English is based on 30 years’ research at King’s College London which shows that structured development of pupils’ cognitive skills over two years raises their attainment by between 1 and 2 GCSE grades see Evidence of success. Previously called Cognitive Acceleration, it is one of only three programmes which have repeatedly been shown in international trials to have this effect. (The others are Philosophy for Children and Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment, but these do not relate directly to school subjects.)

Over 350 primary and schools are now using Let’s Think in English, initially in London and the South East but also increasingly in other parts of the country with more joining each term.