Learning Skills

Habits of Mind

As well as providing quality first teaching, which supports our students in reaching the highest academic achievements, at Ilford County High School we also recognise our role in preparing students for higher education and the workplace. As such all that we do is underpinned by the ICHS Habits of Mind.

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Students are encouraged and provided with strategies that help them cope with the difficulties that education and life in general can present. Resilience or ‘grit’ is important because it is a driver of achievement and success, independent of and beyond what talent and intelligence contribute. Being naturally smart and talented are great, but to truly do well and thrive, we need the ability to persevere. Without this, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential.


Believing you can learn anything you put your mind to is crucial in education. Cultivating this growth mindset often starts with teachers and the way they respond to students’ work. Praising students for hard work, rather than intelligence, will helps to foster confidence that anything can be learned with the right amount of effort.

Problem solving

In the real world, students encounter problems that are complex, not well defined, and lack a clear solution and approach. Students need to be able to identify and apply different strategies to solve these problems; these skills can be developed from any age and will help a student throughout their education, within their personal lives and as they embark upon their careers.


It's important for students to experience leadership opportunities during their schooling, to learn the art of building relationships within teams, defining identities and achieving tasks effectively.


Being able to communicate effectively, to a wide range of different audiences, is one of the most important life skills. The key communication skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening and body language are essential for success in education as well as through a student’s career.


When working as a team, students learn how to listen to others in order to perform their individual roles and function as a cohesive unit. Teamwork teaches students how to respectfully and confidently express their ideas and opinions effectively in a group setting. Teamwork teaches students that their voices are respected and valued.

Throughout all 3 key stages, these Habits of Mind are developed within lessons and underpin the intent of our curriculum. The Habits of Mind are also developed during pastoral time and through volunteering opportunities and extracurricular opportunities.

VESPA Graphic

  • At Key stage 4 and 5 we use the VESPA programme to further develop effective study skills but also to develop the 5 key areas for success according to VESPA.
    • V - VISION – students are encouraged to develop a clear vison of what they would like to achieve during their GCSE and A Level years. This links into to support they receive around careers, university courses and eventually UCAS applications.
    • E - EFFORT – students are encouraged to spend sufficient time on their studies in order to achieve the best grades possible. This will involve work in lessons, structured homework and independent study. Students are encouraged to engage in proactive independent study and are guided through what this could look like in each GCSE and A level subject. For example, the most successful students at A level partake in at least 20 hours of independent study per week, but this is developed and built up at an appropriate rate for each student over years 10 to 13. In the sixth form, students have study periods built into their timetables to support with time management.
    • S - STRUCTURE – at key stage 4 students are supported in planning their independent study time with increasing independence as their work through their GCSEs. In the sixth form, students are supported in structuring their working week with a weekly planning lesson. This is every student in year 12 and 13’s final lesson of the week. Students are given the opportunity to reflect on the material covered in each of their lessons that week and any areas that need further development. This is supplemented by regular revisiting and revision of previous top.
    • P – PRACTICE – we focus on the science of the memory and therefore what effective revision consists of. We have different inputs, for example, an organisation known as Elevate works with our students at various points through their years at ICHS. This work focuses on independent study skills and we also use ideas and resources from a very well-known organisation called PiXL. As they get older, students who need more support than the rest of the population are invited to smaller intervention groups to help them to further hone their skills.
    • A – ATTITUDE we endeavour to instil resilience into our students so that they are able to cope with setbacks (which are part of all students’ experiences at one time or another). Our family ethic allows students to experience setbacks in a supportive atmosphere that allows them to learn by their mistakes, pick themselves up and continue on their pathway.