Simon Brooks works with schools and educators around the world interested in building cultures of thinking, where children delight in their learning and develop deep, meaningful and lasting understanding through the process of becoming critical and creative thinkers.
Simon holds an Honour's degree in English Literature from Cardiff University, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Worcester, and a Master of Educational Studies degree from the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia. In 2014, he was the recipient of the prestigious UNSW Dean's Leadership Award, and was honoured to become a fellow of the Project Zero Institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is currently completing his PhD with the University of Sydney where he is developing a new framework, Curiosity-Based-Learning.
Educator - Facilitator - Change Agent
Simon has enjoyed many years’ experience in senior educational leadership roles, working in both government and independent sectors in the UK and Australia. His first significant leadership role was as Head of English at Cleeve School in Cheltenham, UK. Following this, Simon spent ten years as Director of Teaching and Learning at Masada College in Sydney Australia, developing close connections with Dr. Ron Ritchhart and the Project Zero team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In this role, Simon led the transformation of the school into a lighthouse school for Cultures of Thinking pedagogy and practice, and became a key influencer in the cultures of thinking movement in Australia.
Simon’s most recent in-school role prior to becoming an independent educational consultant in 2016 was as Regional Principal for an international network of independent schools. In 2017, Simon became a founding member of the Project Zero Sydney Network, and continues his work with this not-for-profit organisation designed to share Harvard Project Zero ideas with the educational community. In 2018, Simon and his family moved from Sydney to Cheltenham in the UK, and he continues to work closely with partner schools in the UK, Australia and around the world.
LEARN MORE about the ways in which Simon works closely with partner schools interested in building a whole-school approach to teaching and learning, where the development of a culture of thinking promotes engagement, understanding and independence for all learners.
We have worked with Simon for a number of years, focusing on the Cultures of Thinking work from Project Zero. Simon has run first-class conferences and facilitated professional learning conversations and protocols. I regard Simon as one of the most outstanding educational leaders and thinkers in the world. My Headmaster commented after working with Simon, “I feel like I have just been in the presence of a Master.” Simon has a deep understanding of different professional development requirements and an incredible ability to facilitate team conversations in order to push to deep thinking and prompt powerful actions. Simon’s easy affinity with people and his ability to immediately gel with differing personalities are a hallmark of his approach. We will be utilising Simon’s expertise again; he is one of the best in the world and we feel lucky to have this connection. I cannot recommend Simon highly enough. His work is perfect for any school or team willing to consider deep issues of practice and possible paths forwards, particularly around improving the ways that adults and students think together.
Mentor of Teaching and Learning
Shore School - Sydney
Simon captured the imagination of our entire academic staff from the very first moment he addressed them. His sessions are inclusive, imaginative and thought provoking. Whether Simon is working with a large group or facilitating smaller group activities, he knows how to get to the fundamental spirit of what it means to teach. Simon’s greatest strength is his overarching sense of collegiality. Combine this with a thoroughly thoughtful approach to our school as a unique learning organisation – the alchemy is outstanding and inclusive as the relationship deepens. We are getting so much traction from our Cultures of Thinking work that it is difficult to believe that we have only been embracing this approach to teaching and learning for only one year. I would recommend Simon thoroughly for any School who is serious about cultural change and is genuine in its wish to making thinking visible.
Dr. Bruce Addison
Deputy Principal (Academic)
Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Working with Simon has been inspirational. His expertise and supportive approach when engaging with staff at Kiama High School has allowed all participants to confidently explore their action research projects. Simon has become the cornerstone for Cultures of Thinking at Kiama High School in 2018 and continues to motivate staff to engage with doing things differently. Simon has galvanised a core group of teachers in prioritising thinking in their practice. For students, they have embraced critical thinking routines and their curiosity has been sparked. For staff, it has engendered strong interest and a second round of participants will commence in 2019. We highly recommend Simon Brooks to any school wishing to transform their practice.
Kiama High School
Simon is an outstanding educator who establishes a positive rapport with the staff with whom he works. He challenges staff to adopt innovative teaching strategies and advocates reflective practice that has a powerful impact on student learning. Simon’s authenticity and rich knowledge of best practice has been critical in supporting us with the growth of a strong teaching and learning culture. Staff thoroughly enjoy working with Simon because they find his sessions relevant, forward thinking and responsive to the challenges of the classroom. He has played an important role in our energised approach to teaching and learning which has a profound impact on our learning culture.
Director of Teaching and Learning
The King's School
Working with Simon has been a transformational experience for our school. Since we began working with him in 2013, Simon has inspired our school leaders to consider how we can really embrace and develop a culture of thinking with our students and our teachers. A significant number of our teachers have worked closely with Simon, and have been challenged and inspired to rethink what “covering the content” looks like. Working with Simon has also been the catalyst for changing the way we complete professional development with our own staff. Following Simon’s model, we now ensure that all teacher professional learning is delivered in a way that models ‘good teaching’ and encourages teachers to think, reflect on and grow their own practice. It is also through our work with Simon that we have started to explore ways of establishing Professional Learning Communities within our school to ensure that a culture of thinking is truly embedded within our school culture.
Head Teacher Teaching and Learning
St Ives High School
It is rare that a Professional Development experience has the effect of changing your professional life after 20 years of teaching, but that is exactly what Simon Brooks did for me personally when he asked, "Who is doing the thinking in your classroom?" It is no exaggeration to say that, from the first session with Simon, I felt empowered and with a renewed understanding about how and why to engage my students in thinking.
Simon is an outstanding presenter, embodying professionalism and a personal approach at the same time. He connects with every single attendee in his workshops and truly embodies a culture of thinking. His questions are probing and insightful, yet deeply encouraging. I know my staff always come away from sessions with Simon with renewed vigour and energy, having shared ideas with like-minded peers who are similarly motivated to improve their practice and attend to students' thinking. I personally wanted to solve the maths problem of the poisonous mushroom, or work out what the picture was through the "Zoom In" thinking routine. I no longer use the words "I'm too busy to do that", because I now understand the Cultural Force of Time and believe that how we spend our time is a choice we all make every day.
I have witnessed a change in students as a culture of thinking has grown across our school. Every day I hear teachers asking the question, "What makes you say that?", in order to make visible students' thinking and create a culture in which providing evidence and justification is valued and expected. Students from as young as Kindergarten to as old as Year 12 have the confidence to question each other's perspectives and think outside the prescribed syllabus dot points.
If a school is looking for whole-school professional development that transforms learning and renews staff's passion for teaching, I would certainly recommend Simon Brooks.
Director of Learning and Teaching
Northholm Grammar School