When boys arrive at Eton they usually find themselves in classes of 20 to 24. As their academic study progresses and they make their own choices about what to learn, the class sizes tend to reduce, the size depending on the subject and its popularity in a given year. A typical GCSE class in D block (year 11) would contain about 15 boys learning a second modern language, for example, and 20 in mathematics. Once AS-level and A-level choices are made, class sizes reduce again, to about 12 in subjects such as mathematics, or to smaller classes in subjects chosen by fewer boys. Eton makes every effort to accommodate a boy’s choices in their entirety, but if a subject is very under-subscribed courses are occasionally withdrawn for a year.
In-service training enables masters to become confident in the use of technology to deliver their subjects in varied and interesting ways, and to share with colleagues their experiences of different approaches to teaching particular parts of a syllabus. There is an active development group that provides training and resources in computer-based teaching methods, and the school’s intranet provides a rich supply of material as well as links to the world-wide web.
It is nonetheless the case, for all the power and sophistication of modern technology, that in some cases nothing suits the delivery of a topic better than a master standing in front of a class and encouraging boys to discuss something with him.
Every master is provided with a laptop computer and most have a data-projector for use in the schoolroom. Increasing amounts of resource material are stored electronically on central servers which can be accessed during lessons as required.
The school requires all boys to have their own computers, whether laptops or desktops, and all boys are already able to access the internal web from the rooms in their boarding houses. Departments will increasingly make use of web-based resources in the way they set homework, and encourage boys to use the internet for their projects, coursework and private research.
In the course of a day, each boy will experience several different approaches to teaching, just as every master will experience classes of differing ability levels and boys whose optimal learning-styles vary. We are proud of this diversity, and believe that it makes for one of the most rich and rewarding aspects of the experience of education in the school.