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In 2017 Thinking Schools @Exeter introduced a reflective accreditation approach, developing a continuing improving ethos and process for schools. 

All schools seeking to gain the Exeter Thinking School Award (Level 1) or the Exeter Advanced Thinking School Award (Level 2) will be accredited using the Reflective Proforma and digital evidence format.  See Accreditation Process for fuller details.  


Phase 1 - Information Application

  • School makes initial contact with TS@Exeter with an indication of timeframe of submission.
  • TS@Exeter to provide criteria and guidance on requirements for submission of evidence and confirm accreditation fee.0
  • School to prepare digital portfolio of evidence:
    The choice of presentation of the digital portfolio is entirely at the school’s discretion and we welcome creativity in how it is presented.   Schools are encouraged to use their school websites as an evidence tool, either with a separate thinking skills section or evidence incorporated within the existing curriculum pages.  We are extremely keen for schools to demonstrate and promote their thinking skills activity to the wider community, partners and public.  However, we do understand that website developments for some schools can be costly where an independent provider is used, and therefore we will also accept a digital portfolio in the format of a series of Word and PowerPoint documents or iBook presentation and video evidence.  The latter can be uploaded to a secure google folder and login details provided for access or emailed as zip files.   Schools are also welcomed to present their evidence in a combination of formats, i.e. accessible evidence on their website and further confidential information provided separately in a digital portfolio.
  • School to complete the Reflective Proforma:
    The Reflective Proforma forms a narrative/reflective document of the school’s thinking school journey, statements should demonstrate how the school meets the accreditation criteria and links should be provided to the evidence in the digital portfolio.     

Phase 2 - Evaluation

On submission of an Accreditation Application with the Reflective Proforma and evidence: 

  • TS@Exeter will identify an assessor and agree a timeframe for the assessment and communicate this to the school.
  • The assigned TS@Exeter will assess the Reflective Proforma and digital portfolio of evidence.
  • If all the criteria are met, accreditation will be awarded.
  • If criteria appear not to be met, the school will be given an opportunity to clarify and provide further evidence, and advice will be given on how to meet the criteria more fully. 

Phase 3 - Accreditation

  • TS@Exeter will provide the school with a written assessment report together with formal acknowledgment that the school meets the required criteria and recommendations for further development.
  • TS@Exeter will provide the school with a certificate and a glass thinking school award.
  • TS@Exeter will invoice the school for the accreditation fee. Payment within one month is required.
  • Schools will be granted permission to use the University of Exeter logo for a period of three years from the award accreditation date on their school website and publicity materials.
  • Schools will become a member of the Accredited Thinking School Network.
  • Schools will be given access to a shared workspace with GSE Lecture Series recordings and current research blogs and other resources.
  • Schools will be invited to TS@Exeter development workshops led by TS@Exeter and Graduate School of Education researchers. 
  • Schools will be invited to join the Exeter Professional Learning and Inquiry Network (ExPLAIN).


Please contact Thinking Schools @Exeter for current criteria and application/reflective proforma.

  • Level 1 criteria
  • Level 2 criteria
  • Accreditation Application Form and Reflective Proforma

TS@Exeter offer schools two levels of accreditation for the Exeter Thinking School Award.  Please click on the below links to see the criteria for each level.

Level 1 - ‌ Level One Criteria - A Thinking School

Level 2 - ‌ Level Two Criteria - An Advanced Thinking School

Whether you are seeking Level 1 or Level 2 accredited thinking school status, schools will be charged an accreditation fee* on a sliding scale according to school size and pupil enrolment numbers.   Schools will be invoiced once the accreditation process has been completed.  Please contact for current accreditation fees.


The accredtiation fee covers the assessment of the school’s submitted Reflective Proforma, assessment of the digital portfolio of evidence, a written report by the assessor, certificate and glass award upon successful accreditation and an invitation to a developmental workshop with TS@Exeter and Graduate School of Education researchers.  


* The accreditation fee will include VAT* where appropriate.  VAT is reclaimable for VAT registered companies.