David Thornburg

Our philosophy of learning here at Biddenham, in KS3, is based around the studies of Dr David Thornburg, who is an award-winning consultant who focuses on using emerging technology to impact and improve learning. The focus is providing students with areas in which to learn in an environment that suits their particular learning style and need.

Thornburg conceives of four essential spaces for human learning: the cave, the campfire, the watering hole, and the hunter-gatherer space (‘real life’); and to these we have added a fifth – the wilderness. The Camp Fire is where we share knowledge and information with others. The Watering Hole, is a place ‘where we learn from our peers. The Cave is where learners ‘isolate themselves from others in order to gain special insights’. This is the inspiration behind our three purpose built buildings to aid the transition from primary curriculum and design into the secondary learning environment.

In ‘coming to terms’ with the pace, scale and sheer complexity of the changes that confront us in the modern world and education, there is one stable constant at the centre of our concerns; the developing child.

Increasingly, brain research is showing that despite our many differences (shape, size, colour, temperament and speed of learning) there is a basic underlying ‘human nature’; in short, we can also root our thinking about school design in the basic contours of the human species and its ‘natural’ learning spaces.

This insight has led thinker, like David Thornburg, to go back into our primordial past and begin to build a pedagogy (a theory of teaching and learning) that resonates with our essential human characteristics. It has led him and others to coin the phrase ‘primordial pedagogy’ and this is reflected in a set of concepts that has provided us with a useful reference point when considering the relationship between ‘human learning and space’.

At Biddenham we build on the confidence students gain in year 6 and give them an enriched experience through our connected curriculum. We pride ourselves in providing engaging learning spaces and offer the opportunity for students to embrace specialist facilities in the main school site. We give opportunities to all our students in year 7 & 8 to attend a range of external visits and engage with people in the local community to bring their learning alive

Please visit our school to see our immersive learning spaces that directly link to the theme for our year 7 and 8 students.

In year 8 they still have a purpose built building but the classrooms become more traditional in style with the ability to still have the spaces available in the classroom to develop the theories of David Thornburg.

Connected curriculum

Click here to find out more about our connected curriculum


Please click here for the themes across year seven and eight


Project Based Learning

Please click here to find out more about out project based learning approach