Project-Based Learning In ECiM’s Prep School
By Stephen McElhinney, Head of Prep School
At the Prep School in Epsom College, our vision is firmly founded upon catering to the strengths of the individual and imbuing positive attitudes to learning at all times. Nestling within our delightful and spacious college campus of 50 acres, our Prep School seeks to embed the seven foundations of positive education across the curriculum. These seven foundations centre on enhancing the attributes of: Joy, Gratitude, Power, Possibility, Connection, Resilience and Purpose. We believe that through embedding these seven foundations, we will be preparing children for the demands of the 21st Century.
Within this overarching objective, the Prep School has increasingly adopted the Project Based Learning (PBL) approach to pupils’ learning. This innovative teaching and learning methodology pursues student choice in the planning of projects, and a greater degree of self and peer assessment. It is valued by all ages and year groups, with its emphasis on ‘learning through projects’ (not just completing assignments) and the sense it engenders of students taking ownership of their academic development, all carefully nurtured and facilitated by the professional teaching environment. We have adopted the PBL approach to the teaching of Science, History, Geography and Art, viewing the co-curricular techniques as an important part of our academic vision.
Project Based Learning, of course, is also twinned to the requirements of our seven foundations system, and our pupils enjoy engaging with the key definitions of these facilitators:
- Joy is felt through the intrinsic motivation developed through PBL, as well as specifically planned joyful events such as trips, visitors to the College and exhibitions of work;
- Gratitude is formed through close links with charitable organisations as part of projects;
- Power is created through improved student voice and choice;
- Possibility is shown by the development of new skills, their impact upon real-life and making children realise how much they are capable of accomplishing;
- Connection is built through effective collaboration and communication within groups;
- Resilience is developed through critical thinking and the growth mindset required for successful projects;
- Lastly, Purpose is provided through real-life problems and authentic audiences.
At Epsom we strongly believe that children (and teachers) find our seven foundations and PBL approach a more engaging form of learning, and that it will fruitfully prepare children for the demands of the future. We strive for concerted authenticity in this process, involving pupils and parents of course, creating cross curricular links and most importantly allowing our pupil body the opportunity to reflect upon their own learning process. Ultimately, to quote Nelson Mandela’s oft repeated phrase, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’