Engaging Schools tools and resources

We believe engagement is key to 21st century learning. We aim to get young people engaged actively and positively with their learning, achieving better outcomes and retaining a commitment to learning beyond school. To achieve this, we offer a suite of tools and resources that have been designed with schools, and for schools, to increase student engagement. This work is based on our engaging schools programme, Learning Futures, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Classroom resources

Work that matters: the teacher’s guide to project-based learning

Written in partnership with San Diego’s High Tech High, this guide offers step-by-step advice on planning and managing extended, interdisciplinary projects, as well as useful protocols for critique sessions, templates for important documents such as project plans, and examples of high-impact projects. Download from our website here.

Spaced Learning

Spaced Learning, developed by Monkseaton High School, is a method of embedding information in our long-term memory very quickly – quickly enough to cover and retain a whole subject module’s content in approximately an hour. It's been widely reported that Monkseaton used this to enable students to pass GCSE biology after only one hour's lesson - more than a quarter of students achieved better results after this one hour of Spaced Learning than they achieved in traditional classes after four months. Download from our website here.


Whole-school resources

The Engaging School: a handbook for school leaders

Our handbook for school leaders is  designed to support schools to implement Engaging Schools approaches.  It sets out the values and principles for action around curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.  It also offers advice on issues such as staff development, redesigning time, and partnerships with outside organisations, and suggests a range of possible implementation models from small-scale prototypes through to setting up a ‘school within a school’ or designing a new school. Download from our website here.

To order a hard copy of any of these publications please send us an enquiry at contact@innovationunit.org, we will only deliver a minimum of 10 bulk orders.


To get insights into the organisation conditions needed to deliver an Engaging Schools approach in your school watch this set of videos.

  • The origins of a vision for innovation - watch
  • Leadership of people - watch
  • Managing risk - watch
  • Resources for innovation - watch 
  • Shifting operational conditions and structures - watch 

Case studies

These case studies describe places that exemplify aspects of the Engaging School model. One (Yewlands) describes a National Challenge school in an area of high deprivation that has turned itself around dramatically. The other (PLACE) is about a programme where students and families learn without school, organising their own learning groups and commissioning experts (including teachers) to teach them what they are interested in learning. They provide detailed analysis of the organisational conditions and leadership techniques that have made their success possible.

Download Yewlands Technology College case study

Download PLACE case study


Learning Futures: A Vision for Engaging Schools

This pamphlet explains why student engagement is such a pressing issue, what the Learning Futures schools did to tackle it, what our research team learned about how learning can be more engaging in school, and the 'design principles' we've identified that schools can use in order to make themselves into more engaging places to learn. You can download it from our website here

You can also download our earlier pamphlets, Learning Futures: The Engaging School here, and Learning Futures: Engaging Students here.