Students enrolled at OEA will have had many difficult experiences at school and have many barriers in place. We believe it is our role to break down those barriers to make learning accessible for everyone. We recognise that students may be at a different level to their age in many areas, and so we place an emphasis on functional skills in Maths and English. In addition, we understand that the students we teach benefit from extended life skills and emotional literacy provision. The creative arts approach can break down barriers and empower students who learn differently.
With the addition of outdoor education learning, these remain our priorities at OEA. We recognise that there needs to be a balance of subjects taught in schools, and the remainder of the National Curriculum subjects are accessed through project-based learning.
What is project-based learning?
Project-based learning is ‘learning by doing’. It provides an opportunity for students to focus on a theme of their choosing and research around it. PBL allows autonomy, mastery and purpose in learning and is a relevant way of working, as will be the case in future careers. PBL should make strong connections between academic knowledge and real-life situations, demanding sustained attention from individuals.
What does it involve?
Focuses on a big and open-ended question, challenge, or problem for the student to research and respond to and solve.
It brings what students should academically know, understand, and be able to do into the equation.
It is inquiry-based, stimulating intrinsic curiosity and generating questions helping students seek answers.
Uses 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
Builds student choice into the process.
Provides opportunities for feedback and revision of the plan and the project, just like in real life.
Requires students to present their problems, research process, methods, and results, just as scientific research or real-world projects must stand before peer review and constructive criticism.
Whilst the project remains student-led, it is recognised that there will be elements of adult intervention as this may be a newer way of working for our students. Scaffolded learning provides students with the opportunity to tackle something new in a safe manner. In our experience, students learning in this way take ownership of their learning, retain understanding and have a more positive experience of education.