Redesigning Secondary Schools

Research from the United States has shown that 'Learning Through ‘REAL’ Projects' has significant impact on pupil development and engagement. Over the next three years, we are working with the Educational Endowment Fund to test the effectiveness of this method in up to 12 UK secondary schools.

REAL Projects allow teachers to formulate lessons and activities around a single complex enquiry, and require students to produce high quality outputs with real-world application. Projects are rigorously designed so that students acquire subject knowledge systematically as part of the process of producing outputs, and are assessed for the quality of the work produced, the process undergone to produce it, and the content acquired as a result.

When designed and taught well, REAL Projects stimulate broader enquiry, encouraging students to work collaboratively, think creatively to solve problems and manage their time. Real Projects aim to promote learning that will develop confident and creative individuals, whose skills transcend subject matter and prepare them for the world outside of school.

A REAL Project is not just any project used to organise learning. A REAL Project:

• is generated from teacher and/or student interests and passions

• is designed around an essential question that has validity in the ‘real world’

• is tuned and tested by other teachers for validity and rigour before it is taught

• requires students to produce multiple drafts of their work in order to produce an excellent outcome for every student

• involves structured teacher and peer critique of student work in order to enable every student to produce outcomes that represent excellence for them

• culminates in a final exhibition of work for all students For a full guide to learning through Real Projects see ‘Work that Matters’.

 Durham University will independently evaluate the impact of the approach on a range of outcomes for students.

This research complements our other work on engagement in schools, and innovation in education.

If you would like to receive updates about the trial as it progresses, or if you are interested in receiving the results at the end of the trial, please register here.