How do we ensure our pupils make progress?

The diamond at the centre of our world: your child. Your child, our pupil is at the heart of our 11+ Big Picture. Everything at Meta Prep is about the pupil and equipping them to make progress, developing their confidence and teaching them independence. Our curriculum combines the educational research and the key topics needed for 11+ success. To help parents, we have developed a range of free 11+ resources that incorporate our metacognitive approach to download each week.

Through the impact of its surroundings, the diamond at the centre, becomes the most precious stone. Combining the science of learning, intelligent learning behaviours, and cognitive tools and strategies, described in these five blogs, shape our pupils to become the best they can be.

There are two key actions that impact our pupils: motivation and deliberate practice. 


Motivation is at the heart of everything we do as humans. It is what keeps us alive: the motivation to find food, shelter and warmth. Motivation spurs us on to learn and experience new things. It helps parents bribe their children. Ever used the phrase, “If you don’t finish your homework, you can’t watch TV”? 

At Meta Prep, our first step is to find out all we can, starting our ‘whole child’ approach. Completing a series of questions to produce a Motivational Map provides an insight into a child’s motivators. 

The learning experience can then be tailored to cater for those motivators. Our 11+ Cognitive Coaches create intrinsically more engaging lessons that personally motivate the pupils. Giving autonomy, developing mastery and offering a sense of purpose increases engagement. Additionally, It is important to embed practical activities during lessons to reduce pressure and make the learning experience rewarding. All of this leads to pupils’ making progress independent of the adults around them.

Want to find out the full science behind motivation and learning? Read our blog about motivation. 

Deliberate Practice 

Throughout our lives, we are constantly told to go away and practise. Hence, an often misquoted phrase is that ‘to gain expertise in a subject or skill, you must perform 10,000 hours of practice.’ While this will certainly allow you to gain a level of expertise, who doesn’t remember the show ‘Faking It’, the type of practice and conditions surrounding that practice are more important. Besides, if it was as easy as 10,000 hours of Bond books, flashcards and past papers then who needs teachers or metacognitive toolkits? 

Deliberate practice is sustained, specific practice on skills you cannot do. It is about not being comfortable with ‘good enough’, about resetting our understanding of our own capability, about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone so that our bodies and brains have to rebalance at a higher level.”

K. Anders Ericsson, 2007

Enter Karl Ericsson’s research paper about ‘deliberate practice’, most importantly, it is not repeating the same thing over and over. He highlights the need to be practising specific and identified skills in many different scenarios. It takes time, energy and does not happen overnight. Our brain, when given the opportunity, can make new connections between neurons all the time allowing the brain to improve on a specific skill (neuroplasticity). Yes, you can learn ANYTHING! 

Deliberate practice is a life-long pursuit. Even experts in their field should continue with deliberate practice. I love to tell children that if it was solely about repetition then wouldn’t we all be wonderful all the time. Giving examples of sports people helps them quantify the effort needed. David Beckham repeatedly spent hours shooting at the same goal. Serena Williams stands on a court serving and serving as part of her training regime. These sports people have coaches present throughout their career. Remember, don’t just repeat things mindlessly to form a habit, you need a plan to improve your performance with an expert alongside.

Being stretched

As humans, we must constantly be reflecting on our abilities and developing further with the guidance and support of others. In reality we are designed for stability and naturally seek balance, but if we move out of our comfort zone gradually it will become ‘the new normal.’  Under challenge the brain will reshape and grow to meet that challenge. We remind our pupils that they will fail but with expert help they can pick themselves back up again. It is all about actively seeking mistakes, using deliberate practice, to move them out of their comfort zones to improve and get closer to the big goal.

We are built to live in communities and work collaboratively. Meta Prep’s lessons are designed to allow your child access to expert guidance to understand their current skills and identify the learning steps needed to reach their big goal. We provide opportunities for deliberate practice by setting out goals, helping children visualise and spacing out practice questions to review topics. 

Becoming a meta-learner 

Meta-learners understand how their brain works, the environmental factors and the visual tools that support learning. They can go forth into the world with confidence in their abilities and a toolkit to tackle new and challenging problems and situations. Our tailored 11+ curriculum gives children the opportunities, and belief in their ability, to be meta-learners. 

Over the last 5 weeks, we have delved into our Meta Prep 11+ Big Picture. The science of learning encases everything we do providing knowledge, strategies and behaviours that create resilient, life-long learners.