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Darwin Inspired Learning

Harris Federation students examining leaf slides on the Sandwalk at Down HouseThe Charles Darwin Trust takes Charles Darwin, the person, scientist and Victorian gentleman, his house, gardens and countryside at Downe as an inspiration for teaching and learning science.


We base our materials for teaching and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) on research into Darwin’s own writings and those of his contemporaries and collaborators and on current scholarship. We have developed an inspiring approach to teaching and learning in science, which we call Darwin Inspired Learning, as it takes as its context Darwin’s life, work and influence.

Darwin Inspired Learning

Encourages a sense of place and direct engagement with the natural world using environments local to students, and those of Downe and other places Darwin worked.

Has a pedagogy of enquiry which places importance in:

  • active learning through seeking out experiences and questions, solving problems, and dialogue between teachers and pupils and between learners
  • teaching that facilitates imagination and thoughtful hands-on enquiry as well as the delivery of high quality engaging content
  • teaching that engages critical, creative thinking about how we know and how scientists work.

Encourages interdisciplinary studies, with Darwin as the context, between science, and  literature, writing and expression, history, religious studies, geography, horticulture, dance and drama, design and technology, numeracy, music and art.

This is achieved through:

Student writing in a notebook at Down House
  • using Darwin’s ways of working and investigating (see link below)
  • using Darwin’s big ideas ( see link below) about how nature works
  • understanding how science and scientists use Darwin’s ideas in their work today
  • using stories about Darwin and the places and things he studied
  • collaborative partnerships with expert groups  in the arts and humanities
  • programmes for learners and  CPD for teachers.

This approach produces:

  • learners who are engaged with the natural world as critical, imaginative investigators
  • learners who find science exciting and who want to continue their studies
  • learners whose science and life skills are enhanced
  • teachers inspired by Darwin Inspired Learning to become more effective and reflective practitioners
  • teachers and learners who are proud of the heritage that Charles Darwin gave to the world and understand its significance

Further information: