Stretch for all

Martin Westwell Northern Adelaide regional leaders’ day
Professor Martin Westwell outlines ways we can strategically shift our teaching practice to raise the intellectual demand of learners across all levels of schooling.

Low socio economic status

Research shows that when we raise the intellectual demand of our learners by actively teaching them the ‘stop and think’ skills, we cause a positive shift in their wellbeing and economic status as adults.

The 2012 Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study followed 1000 children from birth to 32 years old to examine childhood self-control skills (Executive Function skills) – as a predictor of health, substance dependence, personal finances and criminal offending outcomes. The study found that the most powerful agent for change is raising learners’ executive function skills. This is a compelling study for educators regarding our role of increasing the intellectual demand of all learning experiences.

Executive function skills

In this clip, Professor Martin Westwell outlines what the executive function skills are and explains the critical role they play in students’ learning.

Developing executive function skills

Some practical ways we can make a strategic shift in our teaching practice across all levels of schooling to develop our students’; executive functions skills.

Bloom’s limits

Professor Martin Westwell explains that by interpreting Bloom’s taxonomy as a hierarchy we trap many of our learners in lower order thinking and limit their learning. All students need to engage in both lower and higher order thinking so that they develop critical executive functions skills.

Stop & think with Alice & Romeo

A Year 8 English learning design example which incorporates ‘stop and think’ skills into the students’ learning of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Ambiguity and risk

Through this thought experiment, we can see how most people will forgo potential benefits for surety and that’s an issue when we are leading innovation and change.


Educational innovation that has novelty but no value is pointless because it won’t help to raise the level of intellectual demand that our students need.

Resources Transforming tasks Stretch for all