2004 – 2005

iLearn engages pupils in a conversation about personalised learning. This approach to learning develops around the unique abilities and interests of individual pupils, while still adhering to the school curriculum.

Primary and secondary pupils form teams of special advisers, chosen as cross-sections of their school communities. In a series of workshops, they are asked about what hinders or assists their own learning, looking at five practical ideas for personalised learning, and identifying which idea would most help them to learn. They are briefed on how to conduct the survey with other pupils, extending the pool of research within their schools. The pupil teams report back on how ideas are received by peers.

Idea 1: Learning How to Learn. This determines individual styles of learning and helps young people identify which best suits them


Idea 2: The Learning Diary. The objective here is to create a record of achievement, showing family, friends and teachers what has been learnt


Idea 3: My Time. This idea lets young people have regular personal time to talk about learning with a teacher or a mentor


Idea 4: Masterpiece. Young people would create a special ‘exhibition’ of a favourite subject or hobby at the end of each key stage


Idea 5: The Legacy Project. This is a way for young people to leave a mark on their school in a positive way


More than 2,000 responses were gathered from pupils across 30 schools. The most popular idea among pupils was the Legacy Project


The majority of pupils respond positively, and are pleased to have the opportunity to express their opinions about how they would like to learn. The most popular idea, The Legacy Project, encourages pupils to leave their mark on the school in a positive way, helping to establish more of a connection with their schools and fellow classmates. Pupils are also asked to introduce their own ideas. For example, many pupils would like to see more active lessons, in sports as well as practical activities in other classes.

“Of course learning is important. Without learning, you don’t know anything. And without knowledge, how can you take part in the world?”

– Secondary pupil

“Thank you for taking notice in how we are learning and for letting us have our say”.

– Primary pupil

“This has helped me think about how I want things to be”.

– Secondary pupil

“You can’t take in all the information if you are stressed. It would affect your learning. If you feel good about yourself, you will learn”.

– Primary pupil


iLearn helps pupils understand how to improve their own learning techniques, whilst increasing engagement between young learners and teaching staff. The programme was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills.

iLearn took place across a wide geographical area within England, from Gateshead to Penzance


The Sorrell Foundation researchers explain the five personalised learning ideas in turn to the pupil teams of special advisers


During the first workshop, the pupil teams discuss the value of learning, as well as opportunities for, and barriers to, their own learning


The pupils team up into pairs and complete questionnaires about the five ideas for personalised learning



iLearn: asking pupils about personalised learning

The Sorrell Foundation visited 30 schools during June and July 2004. More than 2,000 pupils were engaged in a conversation on how they would like to learn. The methods, results and implications of the study are documented in this publication.

Download PDF