We have spent three days at High Tech High looking at a school in a very different context grappling with very similar issues.
I have come away not only very impressed with the way HTH enthuses students, builds positive relationships between all members of the school community and develops independent and resilient learners, but also how much of that we already do at SBL.
What the visit has clarified for me is the importance of autonomy within a school and an idea of what could be done better to achieve that at SBL. We saw PBL ensuring real rigour and subject-based knowledge and conceptual understanding. Assessment within the project is clear and based on interactions agreed between student and teacher through refining the project, and assessment is based partly on the process of the project as well as the content and conceptual framework of disciplines or subjects.
Teaching methods we have seen are similar to the best of what we already do but enable us to focus on a pedagogy that will drive the new KS3 curriculum model. I know that when we work with Chris from HTH, when he will be in school from November, he will be bowled over by the work that we do, as we are by the work HTH does.
I am personally grappling with how we might create through timetabling some of what we want to achieve in the new curriculum, exploiting the idea of fewer teachers with fewer pupils.