Exploring ‘big questions’ with Project Based Learning

Posted In Academic

At Bethany, we spend a great deal of time reflecting on our curriculum and ensuring that we have the best model for delivering an education that is fit for purpose in the modern world.

Curriculum innovation is an important part of school development and much of our discussion in this area centres on ensuring the right balance between the need for a knowledge-based curriculum, which is integral to examination success, and a skills-based curriculum, which nurtures the development of learning habits needed in employment.

This term we are taking our first steps to explore whether a Project Based Learning (PBL) approach can accelerate the development of core learning habits and enrich our Year 7 and Year 8 curriculum.

For those who have not heard of Project Based Learning, it is an approach that encourages pupils to explore a ‘big question’. Pupils work for an extended period, investigating and responding to a problem that they have been presented with and then deliver their outcome to a real-world audience.

There are many reasons for adopting this approach: it engages pupils at a deeper level with learning; it increases the focus on essential learning habits and skills; and it helps to better connect learning with the real world.

The Project Based Learning working party has developed a Year 7 project* that focuses on the question: how can you improve an aspect of life for someone with a specific disability? This has included the creation of assessment frameworks and resources as well as thinking about the learning phases that pupils will need to complete. The project will run over three days and during this time their usual timetable will be suspended. We are very excited about the project and are confident that Year 7 will learn a great deal too!

We plan to complete our own reflection and evaluation of the project and use this to construct a second project for the summer term. Our vision is to run a project each term for Year 7 and Year 8 pupils next academic year. If PBL delivers in the way we hope, it could pave the way for a complete overhaul of our Key Stage 3 curriculum as we continue to innovate to ensure that Bethany pupils are as prepared as possible for life in a demanding and ever-changing world.

Emily Hill, Assistant Head Academic

*The Year 7 project will run between 21st and 23rd March: please follow our progress on Twitter @bethanyschkent #BethanyBuzz #PBL and look out for our follow up blog post!