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Schools That Work| Case Study

School 21

Grades pre-K to 13 | London, U.K.

Elevating Student Voice: Combining Wellbeing, Speaking Skills, and Project-Based Learning

At School 21, students are exposed to different real-world contexts -- emotionally, academically, and creatively -- to discover their voice and place in the world.
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What This School Is Achieving

School 21 -- a public, urban school in London, U.K. -- focuses on teaching 21st-century skills to prepare their students for today's world. They achieve this through interweaving three pedagogies into their curriculum: wellbeing, the ability to speak well (or "oracy" as School 21 calls it), and project-based learning. School 21 teaches Reception through Year 11 (approximately preK-11th grade), and will ultimately serve through Year 13.

  • In 2016, outperformed other local schools in primary-level reading, writing, and math.
  • Earned 2015 Character Award from U.K. Department of Education in recognition of their work to promote student grit and resilience.
  • In 2014, rated “Outstanding” in all categories by U.K. Office for Standards in Education.

How They Do It

PBL and Arts: Empowering Students to Craft Beautiful Work

Arts-Infused Project-Based Learning: Crafting Beautiful Work

Learn how to bring cross-curricular, arts-infused project-based learning into your classroom.

6 259 9,989 views
Oracy in the Classroom: Strategies for Effective Talk

Oracy in the Classroom: Strategies for Effective Talk

School 21 develops confident students who can articulate their thoughts and learning with strategies like discussion guidelines and roles and structured talk tasks.

8 1,138 19,298 views
Teaching Wellbeing: Helping Students Tackle Social Issues

Wellbeing: Developing Empathy, Emotional Awareness, and Agency

Learn how School 21 explores topics like culture, diversity, and responsibility using drama techniques, grounding texts, and controversial statements.

2 308 6,811 views
A teenage boy and girl are sitting at a classroom table with an opened notebook, talking to each other.

Wellbeing: Fostering Self-Awareness and Empathy With Grounding Texts

Learn how School 21 uses literature as a gateway to explore sensitive themes, like race, bullying, and personal values.

2 36 2,724 views
Public Speaking: Oracy Skills for the Real World

Public Speaking: Oracy Skills for the Real World

Using the oracy framework -- building physical, cognitive, linguistic, and emotional speaking skills -- students learn to speak on any topic and to any audience.

1 5,671 17,254 views

Voices From the School

Oracy: The Literacy of the Spoken Word

Oli de Botton
Headteacher and co-founder at School 21

Redesigning the Traditional Assembly

Peter Hyman
Co-Founder and Executive Head Teacher of School 21

The Tuning Protocol: A Framework for Personalized Professional Development

Jess Hughes
English Teacher and Coach at School 21, East London, UK

How to Infuse the Arts Into Core Curriculum (and Why It Matters)

Ahmet Ahmet
Leader of Drama at School 21

The Power of Critique and Redrafting

Ahmet Ahmet
Leader of Drama at School 21

How 3 Interlocking Pedagogies Can Change the World

Emelina Minero
Editorial Assistant

Comments (2) Sign in or register to comment

ishmaelk's picture

I've found this case very interesting. But I miss information on significant Maths learning experiences and how this methodology is used on Maths teaching.
Do you have any more information on that subject?
Thank you,

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Ishmaelk, the school is very intentional about incorporating these strategies across disciplines, including Maths. Here are two examples:

Oracy and Maths -- the school's Year 2 Maths lessons usually follow a six-part structure, starting with a Do Now, followed by new learning, and then a talk task where the students get to practice what they've done in the new learning but in a very practical context. They talk through what they're doing, so it's about developing their vocabulary and their language of explanation.

PBL and Maths -- this connection is easy to see in the video that highlights students learning about sound so that they can then use this learning to create a performance project. If you haven't seen the video, it's this one:

I hope this helps!

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