Learning Futures has now reached the end of the development and piloting phase that we have funded since late 2007. Building on the success of Musical Futures, our primary objective has been to develop and trial innovative methods of teaching and learning aimed at increasing students' engagement with their learning. In this we have joined a growing international movement of researchers and educators who have been looking beyond indicators of compliance as measures of engagement to a deeper sense of engagement, characterised by commitment, responsibility and a desire to prolong learning beyond the school gates and timetable.
We have worked in close partnership with the Innovation Unit to develop and take forward this initiative.
Although we have only had two academic years of actively trialling approaches in our partner schools, their commitment and the combined expertise of our programme partners and staff mean that we are able to conclude our funding of this initiative, confident in the depth of understanding achieved. We have published a clear set of practical pedagogical and wider organisational recommendations to enable other schools to learn from and implement the Learning Futures approaches.
These approaches - Project-based Learning, Extended Learning Relationships, School as Base Camp and School as Learning Commons - are described in a set of pamphlets, Learning Futures: A Vision for Engaging School, Work That Matters: The teacher's guide to project-based learning and The Engaging School: A handbook for school leaders. This latter resource sets out some key implications and resulting recommendations, relating to wider issues of school organisation, structure and culture, to maximise engagement. This approach, we would argue, needs to balance the traditional dominance of curriculum subjects as the main basis for organising the school. The recommendations also warn of the invisibility of professional practice in some schools, which greatly limits opportunities for teachers to learn in a sustained way from each other's teaching or collaborative reflection.
The schools with which we have worked are committed to extending and further embedding Learning Futures approaches, and we are pleased that the Innovation Unit will be proactively taking the initiative further and offering support to schools across the country that wish to learn from our work, to become more engaging schools. Further information on these opportunities and all resources are available at www.learningfutures.org