School 2

School 2

A mixed 11-16 comprehensive foundation school with 700 students on roll, serving a town of over 25,000 inhabitants in County Durham. The proportion of students on School Action Plus or with a statement of Special Educational Needs is just over 9%. Just over 17% of students are eligible for free school meals. 1% of students do not have English as their first language.

The participants

A science teacher, a community musician and 28 Year 8 students were involved in the project, participating in a total of 13 sessions. The school’s community arts coordinator acted as project coordinator.

The project

The first cycle was concerned with investigating how giving students opportunities for choice and decision-making affected engagement. The science teacher delivered a series of lessons varying from a highly structured teacher-led approach through to an open-ended lesson where students were invited to engage in a process of exploration.
The second cycle involved investigating whether it was possible to tap into students’ intrinsic motivation beneath what was perceived to be the more commonly promoted motivator in schools, that of exam success. The team were also interested in finding out whether a community musician’s pedagogy of practice coming before theory, as in the Kodaly method (Houlahan and Tack, 2008), could work in a science learning context in a school. The musician and the science teacher alternated lessons, with the musician delivering content via a series of open-ended investigative ‘challenges’, while the science teacher retained a more formal and structured teacher-led pedagogy.
In the third phase, the focus was on whether engagement would be greater when lessons were led by the young people themselves. Planning sessions were held between the project team and a group of four students, who then went on to deliver two lessons to their peers.