We are Rethinking Education

We provide bespoke, research-informed training and consultancy for teachers and school leaders. Our unique approach to school improvement is rooted in five key principles:

  • MetacognitionMonitoring and controlling our thought processes. Taking the time to think about what we do, why we do it – and how to get even better at it.

  • Self-regulation: Monitoring and controlling our feelings (physical and emotional) and behaviours. Setting goals and taking control of the learning process.

  • Oracy: Developing high quality speaking and listening skills. Boosting confidence, improving social and emotional outcomes and transforming lives.

  • Complex interventions: Combining effective practices together so that the ‘marginal gains’ stack up and interact, producing a larger effect size overall.

  • Effective implementation: A systematic approach to school improvement, drawing on insights from ‘implementation science’ to improve outcomes for pupils.


The rethinkingED conference 2022

London, Sat 17th Sept


Research-informed school improvement

Our work is backed up by research evidence – raising attainment and closing the disadvantage gap. That’s what gets us out of bed in the morning – making a difference to young people’s lives.

To find out how we can help you get even better at what you do, check out the research that underpins our work or drop us a line to arrange a free one-hour consultation.

Meet the team

Dr James Mannion, FCCT
James worked as a Science teacher for 12 years, and spent 8 years in school leadership roles. He has a Masters degree in Person-Centred Education from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in Learning to Learn from the University of Cambridge. James’s doctoral thesis is an 8-year evaluation of the Learning Skills curriculum, a whole-school approach to teaching and learning that led to significant gains in subject learning across the curriculum, with accelerated gains among students from disadvantaged backgrounds. James is a Bespoke Programmes Leader at the University College London Institute of Education, in the Centre for Educational Leadership. He is also the Director of Rethinking Education, an independent education consultancy. In these roles, James works with teachers and schools around the world to promote research-informed approaches to professional development and school improvement. James is an Associate of Oracy Cambridge, a study centre and think tank dedicated to promoting effective speaking and listening skills in schools and the wider society. He is also a Founding Fellow of England’s Chartered College of Teaching. James is a passionate advocate of Learning to Learn, Practitioner Inquiry, and Implementation Science. You can contact him at james@rethinking-ed.org., or via @RethinkingJames on Twitter.
Kate McAllister, FRSA, FCCT

Kate worked as a French teacher for 14 years, and has over 10 years’ experience in school leadership roles. Kate first started work on a Year 7 Learning to Learn curriculum in 2005, with the aim of helping pupils develop the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the often-difficult transition from primary to secondary school. She spent the next 10 years refining and improving both the methodology and the results, culminating in a whole-school approach to teaching and learning known as the Learning Skills curriculum. In 2015, Kate took Learning Skills to new frontiers when she set up the School Bus Project, a charity providing mobile education for refugees. Kate crowd-funded the purchase of a double decker bus, installed solar panels on the roof and spent 6 months working in refugee camps in Calais, providing much-needed education and support for people living in displacement. Following the closure of the Calais camps, Kate set up the Human Hive, a global community of organisations and individuals working together to create a more welcoming and inclusive world. Kate is an Associate of the London Centre for Educational Leadership at the UCL Institute of Education, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. You can contact her at kate@rethinking-ed.org, or via @Rethinking_Kate on Twitter.

We’d love to hear from you!

To find out how we can help you get even better at what you do, drop us a line to arrange a free one-hour consultation.

Praise for our practitioner inquiry programmes:

The training was eye-opening and motivating. It gives you practical strategies and an approach to improving your own practice.

Emily, Year 5 teacher

It was inspiring to think of other ways we might want to look at classes or groups of pupils, to make them more independent, resilient and have a better work mindset.

Todd, Learning Support Assistant

It was simple to implement, my colleagues were positive about using the strategy and the impact on children’s learning was significant.

Rina, Primary Teacher

The training was an excellent way to make me think critically about my practice and how I could improve.

Marcus, Geography Teacher

It’s a really good structure as it allows for reflection and contributions from more than one individual.

Jared, SEND Specialist

The school that I worked with as part of the project was really engaged with it as were the parents, pupil and staff involved. It was a very interesting experience and there were very positive outcomes at the end of the project.

Suzanne, Dyslexia specialist

Praise for our public speaking:

James’s presentation was very eloquent and inspiring. Real research ideas that can be implemented in the classroom.

Rav, English Teacher

I am terribly sceptical about these programmes, but I was impressed by the reports and understand the importance of getting this right in schools.

Mark, Deputy Head

It was a clear, structured and informative presentation. The impact of the work was evidenced. It was nice to see how passionate both presenters were.

Jane, Head of Year 6

There was a clear balance between theory, practice and actual outcomes. No promises were made. There was a sensible, honest account of the research.

Mary, Head of Year

As a Head of Maths I am looking for ideas how to close the gap and help children to learn. By attending this session I think I found way forward.

Emma, Head of Maths

Good grassroots movement with grounding in trial at the chalk-face but reviewed and analysed systematically.

Wahid, Literacy Coordinator

It was great to hear first-hand about the project/experiences that I had read about previously.

Jennifer, Year 3 Teacher

I don’t usually think of educational conferences in terms of their comedy value, but James Mannion’s presentation was a hoot! A combination of his own humorous and engaging style and the benefits of a smaller, more interactive audience, made this session both informative and enjoyable.

Phil, Deputy Head

Praise for the Learning Skills curriculum:

When I first heard we wouldn’t have Learning Skills lessons this year, I was really upset. And then I thought back over everything we did in years 7 and 8, and I realised: it’s a part of me now. I can take it forward into whatever I go on to do.

Fatiha, Year 8

It makes you make more friends and you learn that you might not always work with people that you want to work with, but you have to get along with them – or at least be civil if you want to get along. Because otherwise you won’t be able to do what you need to do.

Michael, Year 9

At Key Stage 3, there is contribution from all students. They don’t seem as scared of getting things wrong. They’re much more forthcoming, they give it a go and are more prepared to be critical of each other. I definitely think Learning Skills has been a big influence in that.

Mel, Head of PE

Teaching Learning Skills reinvigorated my classroom practice. It made me listen far more carefully to what students say. It also helped me understand how important speaking and listening is in the learning process. I definitely took that back into my work as a Science teacher.

Paul, Science Lead Practitioner

Students can talk about how, as well as what, they are learning. Lessons in ‘Learning Skills’ are helping them to do this… They are expected to apply their skills across subjects…

OfSTED report

Since taking Learning Skills lessons, Max’s understanding of where he fits with the world, what he can do to increase his chances in life and how he can do this – he has completely amazed me!

Annette - mother of Max, Year 7

Praise for the Language of Power workshop:

Needs to be longer. We should have it over a weekend with multiple teams debating controversial topics with each other.

Nishat, Year 13

I really enjoyed it because it was personal – I liked being able to choose my own topic.

JP, Year 13

The workshop was very well structured. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thus no improvement should be made.

Zeb, Year 13

I really enjoyed the presenting along with feedback, coupled with excellent teaching of language devices.

Helen, Year 13

I learnt lots of effective techniques for structuring my speech. I now feel much more confident about presenting to others.

Corey, Year 13

I liked the analysis of Oprah and Trump speeches, because it was real-life examples of the techniques we’ve developed.

Max, Year 13
We’d love to hear from you!

To find out how we can help you get even better at what you do, drop us a line to arrange a free one-hour consultation.