The Harkness Method is a teaching and learning method involving students seated at a large, board room style table to discuss ideas in an encouraging, open-minded environment, placing a strong emphasis on confident communication; a concept that runs deep in the International Baccalaureate.

At The Chalfonts Independent Grammar School, we believe in the power of student-led discussion and active participation in the learning process. That is why we use the unique and innovative Harkness Method in our classrooms.

The Harkness Method encourages students to come up with ideas of their own and learn good reasoning and discussion skills. This serves to foster student engagement and motivation through giving them a voice and a sense of ownership in their education. Rather than being passive in the acquirement of knowledge, students are able to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and retain information better. This is furthered through the encouragement of individuality, as the Harkness Method values individual perspectives. This contributes to the personal growth of students and allows them to gain in confidence.

As well as the development of critical thinking, the Harkness Method contributes to the formation of interpersonal skills. Through student-led discussion and active participation, students acquire key skills, such as communication, collaboration, and leadership. These are important skills which are transferable in life beyond education, allowing students to excel and flourish after school and university.

At The Chalfonts, we are proud to use the Harkness Method and believe that it provides our students with a dynamic and engaging learning experience. Discover the power of student-led discussion.

History of the Harkness Method

Originally created at Phillips Exeter Academy, the method's name comes from the oil magnate and philanthropist Edward Harkness, a graduate of St. Paul's School, who presented the school with a monetary gift in 1930. It has been adopted in numerous schools, where small class-size makes it effective.