Introducing the Downe House Centre for Learning and Research

Bridging the gap between education research, teaching
and learning outcomes in the classroom

5 January 2024


The Centre for Learning and Research at Downe House has a single aim: to use the latest and most cutting-edge educational research to improve the outcomes of our pupils. This is part of our ongoing strategy to bridge the gap between education, research and real-world learning in the classroom.

The department is responsible for integrating the role of research with the education of young people and understanding the impact it has on them in school day-to-day.

It is vital that we make the connection between evidence-based research and learning progress.
Like many other schools, we want our pupils to be as successful as possible and to help them maximise their learning outcomes.
That means exploring new concepts, embracing the latest thinking and ensuring that where relevant, this filters down into the classroom.
– Dr Andy Atherton, Director of Learning and Research

The decision to launch the Centre for Learning and Research is bolstered by our desire to ensure that everything our pupils do in class, is aligned to and supported by evidenced-based research. We pride ourselves on being rooted in pupil success, which means that both teachers and pupils benefit from using the most cutting-edge education research to improve learning outcomes.



We are proud to share that Dr Atherton (Director of Learning & Research, Teacher of English) has compiled his own research from teaching in the English classroom into a book. His work explores the questions, “What does it mean to experience a work of literature? What role does response play in the creation of literary meaning? And what matters – really matters – in the teaching of English Literature?” This book offers a powerful and timely account of the vital role that student response plays in the English Literature classroom. Experiencing English Literature: Shaping Authentic Student Response in Thinking and Writing is available for purchase.

We can also reveal our plans to host two upcoming events championing the role of research in education, one during summer 2024 (part of our Partnering for Excellence in Education initiative) and one in 2025 during Lent, which will be a Teaching and Learning Residency and flagship event. These events will see other prep schools from within the local and wider community come together to share teaching and learning experiences and outcomes.

The last decade has seen an explosion of interest in the related fields of mind, brain and education Science.
The work of the Centre for Learning and Research is to ensure that Downe House always remains at the forefront of these conversations,
using the latest findings in cognitive psychology and neuroscience so that our teachers teach better, and our pupils learn more.
– Dr Andy Atherton, Director of Learning and Research

The ethos of the Centre for Learning and Research promotes reflective and evidenced practice, which involves feedback from both teachers and pupils. To further explore practical ideas shared by our teachers and pupils, we recommend our flagship teaching and learning journal, The Enquiry.

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