Amble GPX: Project-Based Learning

Last-minute team briefing

This week I dropped in on the Amble GPX Project in Northumberland to see how they were progressing ahead of the official launch in July. When I arrived they were busy preparing to take their place the following day at the Alnwick Tourism Fair, a perfect opportunity to market their product and explain to the wider community exactly what a ‘geolocation treasure hunt’ is. Great progress had been made since my last visit in August 2010, and despite a number of frustrations with the software, the website has been

Some of the team prepare to meet the public at the Alnwick Tourism Fair

well and truly established. Next week a number of trails are being piloted, with invited guests of all ages being used as guinea pigs over the routes. Their feedback will be invaluable as the final routes and clues are put in place over the coming months. As the official ‘literacy adviser’ to the project, what struck me was how much the young people have matured since my first visit way back in December 2009. As Anna, the project leader, described it so aptly, they have now taken control of the project and are demonstrating leadership skills. Where, in the beginning, people would wait to be told what to do, they are now taking the initiative and doing it their way, because they know how they want it to turn out and they all have a vested interest in its success. There is no better argument than that for project-based learning!

Schools of the Future

As schools across Scotland break up for the long summer holiday, there will be some who look forward to next session with a sense of excitement and anticipation, thinking of the opportunities afforded by the new Curriculum for Excellence for innovation and creativity, some who are happy to put it out of their minds until it happens to them, and yet others who will see it as a threat to what is, for them, a comfortable status quo. In this thought-provoking TED talk about the future of schools and schooling, Charles Leadbeater examines how our formal education system and structures evolved and why they won’t be relevant for very much longer, challenges a few sacred cows, such as the belief in the superiority of the Finnish education system and attempts to replicate it elsewhere, and argues that radical innovation will come through deprivation and lack of resources rather than a wealth of riches. He also contends that real learning starts from questions, problems and projects rather than knowledge and curriculum. Sound familiar?