Research and Inspiration

Changing Education

This RSA Animate is taken from a speech given at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) by Sir Ken Robinson. This film was watched by a group of parents and teachers at the very first meeting of Route 39 and is often shown to new parents by our Principal, Jordan Kelly. (Please give this film a few seconds to start - it is worth the wait!)

Sir Ken Robinson

Ken Robinson is a world-renowned education expert and recipient of the RSA Benjamin Franklin award. "All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks with what they think," he says. "Most students never get to explore the full range of their abilities and interests ... Education is the system that's supposed to develop our natural abilities and enable us to make our way in the world. Instead, it is stifling the individual talents and abilities of too many students and killing their motivation to learn."

How we were inspired

Having watched this, we recognised an amazing opportunity to design a school in which:
  • Each student is known well and so can be challenged and supported appropriately.
  • Each student is able to progress at their own pace and style, regardless of their age.
  • Each student learns in an engaging way that connects subject matter with relevant, real-life experience.
  • Each student is constantly developing the life-skills - eg resilience, creativity, teamwork - to thrive in their adult life.

Thus the film clip inspired us to take things further and has been one of the foundations on which the educational vision of Route 39 Academy has been built.

Developing the Curriculum

The curriculum was then developed through visits to exemplary schools across the country and extensive international research. Of particular influence were the successes achieved by:

Human Scale Education

Demonstrating through existing schools how learning is more effective in smaller secondary schools with high levels of professional care, a focus on emotional wellbeing, more thoughtful learning environments and close links with parents and the community.

Innovation Unit

A not-for-profit organisation providing support, resource and research to enable schools to provide the best learning opportunities for their students.

High Tech High, San Diego USA 

Focuses on project based learning where teachers work in multidisciplinary teams. Teachers are also seen as learners and have access to a school of education to promote new ideas and learn more about how everyone learns. 99% of students from High Tech High go on to university or college - over a third are the first generation in their family to do so. English and Humanities teacher, Miss Smart, was lucky enough to spend an inspiring few days at the school. Click here for a video about the school.

Chris Wakefield of High Tech High provided staff training when the school opened. We would like to share the video he used to open the training session: Austin's Butterfly

Cramlington Learning Village, Northumberland

Rethinking classrooms and treating all space within a school as ‘learning space’, this Ofsted Outstanding school divides areas into discussion, research and experimentation zones. The school has no corridors, this maximises the use and value of the building for the students learning.

Duchy College

Winner of the Queen's Anniversary Prize 2013, Duchy College provides high quality qualifications up to degree level that use the local environment to support learning. Duchy works closely with businesses to support the real-world value of its qualifications and provides the widest opportunities for work placement, study visits and additional qualifications. We are delighted to be working in partnership with them to deliver sixth form qualifications and develop a hands-on curriculum:

The Swedish Kunskapsskolan Model

Now being used in English schools. Kunskapsskolan’s vision is to provide every student with personalised learning and clear goals, stretching their boundaries and achieving more than they thought possible. Kunskapsskolan students’ achievement in Sweden is 14% above the national average.

The RSA Opening Minds programme

With its flagship Academy in Tipton. Opening Minds has a core focus on a competence based approach to: learning, teamwork, citizenship, managing information and managing situations. This approach came out of a 2006 report from the CBI on the skills that employers were looking for among school leavers.

Singapore Department of Education

Has seen significant growth in the achievement of its students, including low performing groups, to become one of the most respected education systems in the world. This is through a focus on building individual student competencies, working in teams and having a strong civic consciousness. The aim is for each student to become a self-directed learner, taking responsibility for learning. Within that they question, reflect and persevere in the pursuit of learning.

Pearson Education

Our original application for the Department of Education was put together with the input of experts from the educational resources provider, Pearson, who were investing in the development of School Improvement and Learning Habits models very like our own.

Professor John Hattie from the University of Melbourne

He quotes in the CBI First Steps report: “The effect of parental engagement over a student’s school career is equivalent to adding an extra two to three years to that student’s education”.

Carol Dweck, Psychologist Stamford University

This research sets out how most people believe their basic qualities are simply fixed traits, when in fact they can be improved and developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. Love of learning and resilience are essential for accomplishment. 

The Learning Organisation

International research into how the mind works shows that we are all capable of becoming better learners. The Learning Organisation helps schools to apply this research directly to the work of teachers. Graham Powell from the TLO provides regular training and coaching at Route 39 Academy.

South Dartmoor Community College

South Dartmoor has a focus on pastoral support for its students, high standards of professional development for staff and strong partnerships with parents/carers. They currently provide support and collaboration to Route 39 teaching staff.

Newquay Tretherras Academy

Has developed the ‘Tretherras Way’ as a competency based approach to learning in Key Stage 3. Ofsted recognised that the strategies ensured students remained engaged with their education. As a result, attendance is above average and the level of exclusion is extremely low.