Project Based Learning (PBL)


By combining different elements of the humanities subjects (History, Geography and Philosophy & Religious Education (PRE)) into engaging projects, our aim is to ease transition from Year 6 whilst immersing students in deep learning experiences that combine many key skills, learning styles and interesting topics.

Projects vary from year to year but all are designed to engage students through a hands-on, inquiry-based approach where they are inspired to create beautiful, meaningful work which is widely celebrated. Each project has an outcome - such as a book, a presentation, a speech, an artwork or exhibition - which are displayed or heard in school as well as in the local area.

Collaboration is key - between students, between subjects and with the local community. Projects are designed to explore 'real-world' issues, to solve problems, to investigate by considering facts, evidence and data. Students conduct field work, hear from speakers and take trips to bring the project topics to life, and use digital technology and other resources to develop 'real-life' skills.


Projects vary, and draw in not only the humanities subjects but other subjects too. For example, students might create an artwork inspired by their topic in their Art class, they might learn statistical analysis in their Maths lesson, develop skills for writing newspaper articles in English or explore the underlying science of a project investigation in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

Below are a few examples of guiding questions and projects undertaken:

What makes someone a community hero? (History, Art, English)

By researching famous figures such as Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez and Malala Yousafzai students explored what it means to work to address injustice and improve lives, and discussed together people in their own community who have similar goals on a local level. Having articulated a set of characteristics for a community hero, each student nominated someone they admire or have been inspired by, from the local Swanage community. They researched news stories and considered the occupations they consider heroic. Bringing together English and art skills, they created fact files and news articles, painted portraits in the style of American contemporary artist Shepard Fairey and sculpted their hero's likeness. The output of the project is a Community Heroes book.

How can we shrink our family's carbon footprint? (Geography, Science, Maths)

In this project, students worked together to explore the science behind climate change and carbon footprints, and the impact on the natural world and societies. Using data collection, measurement and maths skills, they calculated their family's carbon footprint and undertook research on the use of resources to devise an action plan for reducing their family's environmental impact. Persuasive resources for a campaign to encourage us all to work harder to reduce our carbon footprint form the output of this project.

How can we reduce the marine debris entering our oceans? (Geography, English, Science)

Students investigated the various types of plastic, how recyclable it is and what happens to mismanaged plastic. They heard from recycling experts and visited the local waste management centre to see first-hand how waste is discarded and sorted. Representatives from 'Surfers Against Sewage' discussed with them the issue of plastic debris in the ocean and ways in which action might be taken. Students demonstrated, through large scale mapping, their understanding of the route waste plastic takes to our oceans. As an output, students devised a public service announcement to educate the community on how to properly recycle plastic, along with videos and social media campaigns.

Why did the Titanic sink? (English, History, Geography)

In this mini-project, students investigated the reasons why the Titanic sank and explored similarities to the fate of the Costa Concordia, giving them deeper immersion into this fascinating story that simply learning the story of that fateful night in 1912. A trip to the SeaCity Museum (The Titanic Story) enabled them to learn more of the ship's connection to Southampton, to see and handle artifacts, and to investigate the role of key people involved in the making and sailing of the the Titanic and the rescue efforts. Students created a wonderful range of work in an autonomous activity to support their learning - including artwork, models, newspaper articles and scrapbooks. An extended empathy piece written from the perspective of a passenger rounds off the project.

Read more on our Years 7-9 page.