Independent Minds Conference, London

In the final week of my recent trip to the UK I represented Claremont College by speaking at the Independent Minds Conference which was hosted by APS Excellence in Education (The Independent Association of Prep Schools in the United Kingdom), with Jane Simister as the Conference Coordinator. Jane Simister (@future_smart) is author of our Thinking and Learning Skills Program. 

We heard from eight independent schools throughout the conference, all sharing the ways they are preparing their students for their future with the incredibly important lifelong skills and dispositions that will take them as an adult far beyond academic skills alone.


It was an honour to be the conference guest speaker, and a great privilege to have been able to share some of the Claremont story with many like-minded educators.

Many of you might remember Jane who came to our school 2 years ago to talk about her program of thinking and learning dispositions that are designed to build Intellectual Character.  During this visit to Claremont College Jane spent three days working with staff and she held a parent information evening too which many will recall to be very inspirational.

We at Claremont have a yearly plan to ensure that we embed the dispositions into our lessons with our aim being for every child, by the time they leave Year 6, to have a good understanding of their own dispositions, what it is they need to draw on in certain situations, what dispositions are their strengths and which ones they need to work on with intentionality.

You should have noticed over quite a few years now that these dispositions feature prominently in the school reports in the ‘Other Aspects of Development’ too, to demonstrate the importance we place on these important skills. This is possibly a good time to remind you that we do not expect our students to demonstrate all of these dispositions at all times. It is very unlikely that no adult will display all of these dispositions all of the time, so to expect your child to do so would be unrealistic. By adding these to the report we hope to give you an indication of the dispositions your child demonstrates at school, so that you and their teachers know the areas for growth for your child. We also ask your child to reflect on their dispositions (what have they used well, what could they use next, what should they have used) to help them have some ownership of their learning now and in the future. 

This year we have made included student voice in our Semester 1 reports by asking the students where they believe they sit within the ‘Other Aspects of Development’, because in the past, in most instances the level of consistency given is based on teacher professional judgement. James Nottingham (@ChallengingLearn) challenged us to include student voice within these ‘other aspects’ so that the student’s own reflections are taken into account. 

It has been several years now since I elaborated on each of the dispositions, with details of how we use them at school and how you could reinforce these at home so I will go through each of the dispositions that have been and will be the focus of Semester 1 next week.

Janelle Ford
Acting Principal