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Thinking school accreditation

Please note as of 5 December 2023 all enquiries regarding accreditation or re-accreditation as a thinking school should be directed to Dr Dave Walters, Grounded Practice Educational Services, email:

We are delighted to announce that Dr Dave Walters, School of Education associate and Thinking Schools Assessor, has become the licensee of the Exeter Thinking School Award and the Exeter Advanced Thinking School will be delivering and managing thinking schools accreditations on behalf of the University of Exeter as part of the suite of services offered within his Grounded Practice Educational Services company.    

Dave is an alumni of the University of Exeter whose research is in the area of cognitive education and school leadership, he has been involved with the delivery of thinking schools accreditations through the School of Education for a number of years, and therefore taking on the management of the accreditations on behalf of the university is enabling this important and impactful work with schools in the UK and internationally to continue and develop.

Phase 1 - Information Application

  • School makes initial contact with an indication of timeframe of submission.
  • Criteria and guidance provided on requirements for submission of evidence and confirm accreditation fee, and provsions of Reflective Proforma template required for accreditation.
  • School to prepare digital portfolio of evidence:
    The choice of presentation of the digital portfolio is entirely at the school’s discretion and creativity is welcomed 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, it is understood that website developments for some schools can be costly where an independent provider is used, and therefore a digital portfolio in the format of a series of Word and PowerPoint documents or iBook presentation and video evidence is acceptable.  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: 

  • An assessor is identified and a timeframe for completion of of the assessment is communicated to the school.
  • The assigned assessor will review and 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

  • Assessor to provide the school with a written assessment report together with formal acknowledgment that the school meets the required criteria and recommendations for further development.
  • Assessor to provide the school with a certificate and a glass thinking school award.
  • Assessor 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. 
  • Schools will become a member of the Accredited Thinking School Network.

There are two levels of accreditation for the Exeter Thinking School Award, Level One A Thinking School and Level Two An Advanced Thinking School.  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 Dave Walters at Grounded Practice Educational Services for current accreditation fees.


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