We ensure the best outcomes for boys at Eton by using innovative strategies to enhance our teaching and learning. This is supported by state-of-the-art facilities, where Masters and boys use outstanding teaching and learning spaces to trial innovative platforms and practices. These include a creative space in The Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning (CIRL), which gives great flexibility, as well as an observation schoolroom with a viewing gallery, and a Harkness table for discussion-based learning.
The main areas in which schools across the globe are innovating are in EdTech, curriculum design and pedagogy. CIRL works alongside Edtech entrepreneurs and a number of departments and individual Masters are constantly trialling apps and platforms. In terms of pedagogy, we offer training to Masters and boys in evidence-based innovations, such as online learning; using devices as teaching and learning tools; teaching methods such as interleaving and spaced repetition; revision techniques; and ways of giving effective feedback.
A Teaching & Learning Group now meets to promote dynamic, forward-looking and evidence-informed approaches in teaching and learning.Jonnie Noakes, Director of Teaching and Learning
CIRL promotes a culture of reflective practice across Eton, asking key questions such as: ‘What do we currently do well? How do we know we do it well? How can we do it better? And what can we learn from research, and from the best that others think and do?’
At the individual level this may take the form of structured enquiries by Masters into their own teaching and learning practices; mutual observations within and across departments; or meeting in cross-departmental professional learning groups that trial new techniques and discuss how they translate into practice. This reflective culture is also being taught to our boys, for example through the Research Option and the Education Society, which enable boys to make structured enquiries into academic and pastoral topics.
Alongside a culture of reflection, CIRL teaches and uses a range of methods for evaluating the effects of current and new practices, ranging from informal enquiry to robust research.
boys took part in a research project on happiness conducted by CIRL in collaboration with Research Schools International.
The Researcher-in-Residence has taught groups of boys and Masters how to conduct school-based research through reflective enquiry, data gathering, surveys and focus groups. They translate and summarise research by others for a weekly blog, which goes to all Masters.
CIRL also designs and oversees research projects across the school and in collaboration with outside organisations. Reports on our research projects are published with open access on our website.
The work of the Centre has been fascinating and inspiring, reminding us as educators of how much more we can learn about the nature of learning, and making available wider insights into the implications of all this for teachers across all kinds of schools.Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders
CIRL houses the College’s Learning Support Centre and promotes a culture of personalised learning across Eton.
CIRL works closely with the Director of Professional Development to provide a rich programme of ongoing training for masters in teaching and learning, including whole-staff and smaller, opt-in sessions with visiting speakers and our own expert staff.
Recent research projects produced by CIRL include:
Character in Education
The Tony Little Centre and Research Schools International has carried out a research study on Character Education at Eton.
Happiness at Eton College
In the 2016-17 academic year over 1,000 boys took part in a research project that CIRL conducted in collaboration with Research Schools International. This project looked at the relationships among boys’ wellbeing and their academic achievement across the whole school.
Character Development through Community Engagement
In 2018-2019 we conducted a study which looked at the impact of community engagement on the character development of C Block boys.