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I'm trying to create an image with local illumination only. The scene I'm working with is the 'Class room' scene available here: https://www.blender.org/download/demo-files/

It uses the Cycles Render which I am not very experienced with. Switching to a different Render appears to screw up all the scenes materials and textures.

A full render with the preset settings yields a nice and detailed picture:

class room full

Now I want to render this same scene with direct light and hard shadows only using the Cycles Render. Soft of like a Phong shader would do plus shadows. In this style:

direct light

I've attempted setting the amount of bounces to 0, like so:

bounces

But this appears to only change specular reflections on metallic or glass surfaces. This is the result:

local illumin attempt

I want zero additional light bounces, meaning no indirect light or inter-reflection. All surfaces not visible to a light source should be completely dark.

Anyone know how what the easiest way of achieving this is?

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Setting diffuse bounces to 0 is the correct way to achieve what you want. Setting glossy and transmission bounces to 0 as well is unnecessary, it just produces black metal and glass, and the like.

The reason the resulting render doesn't look like the Cornell Box example is because the lighting is different. There are multiple light sources, some of them very large in area. (the windows, in particular) This create diffuse soft shadows and light from many different directions. There are very few places in the scene that do not directly face at least 1 light, so disabling indirect lighting still gives fairly smooth and realistic-ish lighting. In the box example, there is only one light, so any area occluded from it is in solid shadow.

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