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Powell's School Church of England (VA) Primary School


What is metacognition?

Metacognition and self-regulation are about children thinking about thinking, knowing what learning means and taking charge of their learning because of that knowledge.

The research carried out by John Hattie found there to be three main elements of metacognition:

  • Disinhibition - the skill of concentrating and knowing what to do when we are stuck
  • Updating and monitoring what we are learning, so constantly improving and reviewing
  • The skill of knowing how to be curious, looking for patterns and making connections.

The teaching of metacognition fits perfectly with the Powell’s school vision: Talk, learn, grow on our journey together; as it helps the children to understand how best to learn and sets them up to be life-long learners, ready to move on to their next stage of education when leaving Powell's.

"When tasks are more complex for a student, the quality of metacognitive skills rather than intellectual ability is the main determinant of learning outcomes."(Hattie 2009)


How metacognition is taught at Powells?

We teach explicit lessons on metacognition at Powell's so the children are aware of the different areas of metacognition and how these support their general learning. To do this we use resources from the book ‘Thinking Classrooms’ by Katherine Muncaster and Shirley Clarke. In this book the different areas of metacognition are termed as ‘learning powers’ and each power has an animal character. The animal analogies help children to understand each power more and the characteristics and types of behaviour they would show when using each power. (See character poster below)

Due to the explicit lessons on metacognition the children have a secure understanding of each of these ‘learning powers’. Therefore metacognition and the associated vocabulary and skills are referred to and woven in to all curriculum areas and all aspects of the children’s school life.


Metacognition – Our Learning Powers


Learning Power


To be curious

Kelly Koala


Asks questions

Notices things

Looks for patterns and connections

Thinks of possible reasons


Ponders – what if?

Is creative

To concentrate

Emily Elephant


Manages distractions

Gets lost in their learning

Breaks things down into smaller steps

Focuses on one thing at a time

Plans and thinks things through

Jots things down to help them think

To be resilient

Albert Armadillo


Uses a growth mindset

Does not worry if it goes wrong

Learns from their mistakes

Is excited to try new things

To co-operate

Martin & Marvin the Monkeys


Listens to others

Explains things to help others

Is kind when they disagree

Is tolerant

Works together

To self-improve / continously improve


Sadie Squirrell

Keeps reviewing their learning

Improves one thing first

Tries to be better than last time

Takes small steps

Does not compare themselves to anybody else