Public and Private schools following the National Curriculum in the United Kingdom. The system we use at the moment hasn’t really changed much for over 150 years.
Education is compulsory for 14 years from age five to 18 inclusive. Most state schools follow the National Curriculum, with primary schools teaching Key Stage 1 and 2 up to age 11, and secondary schools following Key Stage 3 and 4 up to GCSE exams at age 16. Children of foreign nationals can attend state schools, if they have UK residency or are from the EEA.
International day schools have grown in number over the past decade in London, which also has French, German, Spanish and Japanese schools. The capital boasts the largest concentration of independent schools, which are mainly spread across Southern England and the Midlands.
In 2017, overseas students accounted for some 37.5 per cent of boarders at the 478 boarding schools in the 1,301-member Independent Schools Council (ISC), which represents the vast majority of the sector. Several schools, including Sherborne International, provide courses to prepare international students for A-levels, while 75 independent schools offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma, mostly alongside A-levels.
If you are looking specifically for International Baccalaureate World Schools in the United Kingdom, you can find selected schools on the sister website: ibyb.org
Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) was an innovative academic born in Austria whose ideas founded the basis of Anthroposophy.
He applied his ideas to education as well as agriculture, medicine, architecture and social reform. The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship® acknowledges Rudolf Steiner as the founding inspiration of modern day Steiner schools, but does not promote Anthroposophy or endorse every aspect of it.
Steiner schools are always co-educational, fully comprehensive and take pupils from 3 to ideally eighteen. They welcome children of all abilities from all faiths and backgrounds.
The priority of the Steiner ethos is to provide an unhurried and creative learning environment where children can find the joy in learning and experience the richness of childhood rather than early specialisation or academic hot-housing. The curriculum itself is a flexible set of pedagogical guidelines, founded on Steiner’s principles that take account of the whole child. It gives equal attention to the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each pupil and is designed to work in harmony with the different phases of the child’s development. The core subjects of the curriculum are taught in thematic blocks and all lessons include a balance of artistic, practical and intellectual content. Whole class, mixed ability teaching is the norm.
For a list of schools steinerwaldorf.org
A democratic school is where students are trusted to take responsibility for their own lives and learning, and for the school community. Democratic education is an educational ideal in which democracy is both a goal and a method of instruction. It brings democratic values to education and can include self-determination within a community of equals, as well as such values as justice, respect and trust.
Democratic schools are characterised by involving students in the decision-making process that affects what and how they learn. Mostly they have no mandatory curriculum, considering forced learning to be undemocratic. Some democratic schools officially offer voluntary courses, and many help interested students to prepare for national examinations so they gain qualifications for further study or future employment. Some democratic schools have no official offering of courses, although courses can be offered or requested by school members.
The democratic school movement is growing, here are some schools in the UK..
summerhillschool.co.uk – Suffolk
freewegrow.co.uk – Forest Hill, London
eastkentsudburyschool.org.uk – Kent
sands-school.co.uk – Devon
Home education is increasingly popular in the UK and it means that parents take responsibility for their children’s education rather than delegating it to a school. Home education in the UK can take a variety of different forms. The law requires that education should suit each individual child or teenager, so there is no need to follow any system or curriculum.
Home education is legal throughout the UK, and has been for many decades. However, the laws in the four countries of the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) are not identical.
According to the 1996 education act in England and Wales, it is parents (not the state) who are responsible for providing their children’s education ‘at school or otherwise’. Their education must be suitable for the age, ability and aptitude of each child. The wording is the same in Northern Ireland. Scottish law says that ‘every child has a right to an education, and it is the duty of the parent of every school age child to provide that education, either by sending the child to school, or by other means.’
Thus it is up to each family to ensure that their children receive appropriate education. What exactly that means will vary from child to child. Home educators in the UK do not have to be trained teachers. Nor do they need any special qualifications to educate their children. Although some families choose to use a structured ‘homeschool’ curriculum, others pick and choose educational books from bookshops. Still others use the Internet and libraries to find suitable resources. A growing number follow the ‘autonomous’ style of education. That means that they follow the children’s interests, learning through discussion and life in general.
For more information home-ed.info
Lots more helpful links here on the Resources page
Forest School in the UK may seem a fairly new movement. In reality it is based on a rich heritage of outdoor learning going back at least to the 19th century. Philosophers, naturalists and educators in Europe and the UK such as Wordsworth, Ruskin, Baden Powell, Leslie Paul (who founded the Woodcraft Folk in 1925), Kurt Hahn (who founded Gordonstone and was the inspiration for our first outdoor education centres), Susan Isaacs and the Macmillan sisters all laid the foundations for what is known as Forest School today. During the 1970s and 80s our education system moved toward a more teacher/outcome-centred approach in an attempt to improve numeracy and literacy, in particular, and we had the introduction of the national curriculum. Somewhat in response to this, there was a growth of ‘alternative’ educational models in the 1990s and it is in this context that Forest School emerged.
Forest School is the name of a specific ethos – a way of working with people in an outdoor natural space for an extended period of time, often a full year. Qualified practitioners carefully facilitate programmes which are uniquely tailored to the needs of the individuals within the group and have the fundamental aim of building participants’ self esteem, confidence, independence and creativity. The name does not refer to an actual place; it refers to the philosophy. Forest School programmes work in a variety of situations and locations (not just schools). Therefore, it is not possible for schools to become a ‘ Forest School’, however schools can provide Forest School programmes for their pupils.
The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom provides a badging scheme for schools to recognise those which are doing quality ‘learning outside the classroom’. Forest School, and other forms of outdoor learning, can help a school gain this quality badge.
Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
More great information here and to find a school near you:
Other Forest School Groups
Natural Childhood – Streatham, London
Little Explorers Club – London
Nature Play – South London/ Croydon
The Family Learning School is a progressive independent primary school in Rushy Green, south London for children aged 3 to 11. We deliver inspiring, personalised education to small classes with high staff-to-child ratios, valuing creative as well as academic learning.
We began life as a homeschool group founded by two working mothers. Our aim was to create a joyful, familiar environment in which to develop and celebrate the unique potential of each child – academic, emotional and physical.
As time passed and our group’s reputation grew, we realised we could serve more families more effectively as a school. We visited Finland to research the country’s educational methods in person and returned energised by what we saw. After much planning and preparation, we found new premises and received Ofsted certification, opening our doors in September 2019.
Our model emphasises balance: freedom and responsibility, adventure and contemplation, creativity and structure, community and individuality. Our children explore and discover at their own pace, gently guided and supported by experienced learning professionals. By spending two days a week off-site, at forest school and on ‘adventure days’, they develop lasting and meaningful connections with nature and the wider world.
We avoid the traditional, one-size-fits-all approach of teaching and testing. We don’t accept that long days or homework are necessary to educational success. And we expect our children’s families to play as vital role in their development as we do.
Our newly renovated premises in Rushy Green offers a light-filled, open environment where children can explore and enjoy a variety of experiences that channel learning through creative play. Our focus on academic learning increases as each child demonstrates that she or he is ready. At this stage, children work in small groups and one-to-one with a teacher, ensuring they become confident and able learners ready to face challenges and learn from their mistakes.
All children have access to a rotating range of optional extra-curricular clubs and activities such as coding, choir and dance, while we also offer wraparound childcare for families with busy schedules.
Last but not least, we are a true community. Our families get to know each other, support each other and get involved in many aspects of school life, from admin and oversight to classroom fun.
We are a family – one that’s open to all.
Montessori was one of the most important early years educators of the 20th century, the innovator of classroom practices and ideas which have had a profound influence on the education of young children the world over.
She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome medical school and became interested in education through her work as a doctor, treating what today are known as children with special needs. When she went on to establish schools for the disadvantaged children of working parents in Rome she approached their education as a scientist, using the classroom as her laboratory for observing children and finding ways to help them to achieve their full potential.
It soon became apparent that Dr Montessori had developed a highly effective method of teaching which could be used with great success with each and every child. She began to travel the world, establishing schools, lecturing about her discoveries and writing many articles right up to her death in Holland in 1952 at the age of 82. She was a true pioneer of child-centered education. Her innovative classroom practices and ideas have had a profound influence on the education of young children all over the world.
Montessori saw that children learn best by doing and that happy self-motivated learners form positive images of themselves as confident, successful people. She created specially designed resources to foster independence and a love for learning from an early age.
The Montessori approach is holistic and aims to develop the whole child. Fundamental to the approach is the belief that a child’s early years from birth to six are the period when they have the greatest capacity to learn.
Montessori left a legacy through her work that combines a philosophy of freedom and self-development for children with a practical approach.
A revolutionary response to school for 4-16 years. Atelier 21 Future School in Crawley, Sussex is a totally unique new way of doing school. We do away with the outdated bits of mainstream that we don’t like, and replace them with a pioneering new approach to child-centred educating which enables children to be the most driven, self-motivated, flexible thinkers and learners that they can be ready for a future that we can’t yet imagine.
Founded by educator philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, in 1969, Brockwood Park School is an international boarding school for 14-19 year olds, in the heart of the Hampshire countryside. It provides an holistic education for around 75 students and is the only school of its kind in Europe.
‘The whole movement of life is learning.’
Begin by taking away punishment and reward. No grades, no comparison, no competition, no prizes. Assist each student to create their own programme of studies that challenges and extends them. Encourage them to take on projects and develop portfolios that are excellent. Give them the space and freedom to make mistakes and don’t judge them when they do. Nurture the spark they have, so that they discover their talent and what it is they love to do. Support them in passing exams if they wish, but don’t forget that there is more to life than acquiring knowledge and testing it – that kind of knowledge is always limited and always measureable, whilst life is unlimited and immeasurable. Do this in an atmosphere of friendly equality and you have what Brockwood Park School offers: learning that opens eyes to the whole of life.
Montessori and progressive education
Three Key Aims
OMS aims to promote the wellbeing of the whole child through comprehensive and individual pastoral and academic support for children who want a more individual approach.
OMS aims to equip pupils with vital skills and learning that is appropriate now and valuable in the future, emphasising learning that nurtures creativity and a connection with nature.
OMS aims to offer an environment and a curriculum that reflects the Montessori ethos of active, inquiry-based cross-curricular learning.
Our aim at OMS is to strive to ensure that all our children feel happy and safe. Everyone is valued, respected as an individual and encouraged to persevere, striving to achieve their full potential. All children receive an education that allows equality of opportunity and fosters a love of learning. We focus on removing any barriers which impede learning.
Students at OMS are actively encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and ensure that they use all resources and support available to them effectively to aid success. Students are also encouraged to contribute their views and make informed decisions about their education.
Parents have a critical role to play in their child’s education. The school will work actively in partnership with parents to provide appropriate strategies to meet the student’s educational needs and encourage parents to play an active role in the student’s education.
One result of having a child-centered ethos is encouraging children to understand democratic principles so that their voice and opinions can lead to change. Our forums and meetings offer young people a platform in which they can raise and debate issues of importance to them.
The phrase ‘Unschooling’ was coined by John Holt in the 1970’s who said ‘we learn better when we are not being forced to learn’. John Holt wrote several books a couple of the more well known are ‘How Children Fail’ and ‘How Children Learn’.
An insightful TEDx talk by Callie Vandewiele on this subject youtu.be/FIm7dmEJKfM
Ashley CofE Primary School located in Walton on Thames is a growing three-form entry school. As from September 2019 there are 570 children on register, with three classes from Reception to Year 4, and two classes in Years 5 and 6.
There are two key aspects to our vision at Ashley CofE Primary School. The first is that, in line with the current high expectations around attainment and progress, we want our children to develop the skills, knowledge and terminology in English and Maths to enable them to be as successful as possible in these key areas. We are working hard to ensure the children have confidence and enthusiasm in these areas of their learning so that every one of them can make the most progress possible in line with their ability.
Secondly, to put that learning in context, our planning starts by drawing out our enquiries of learning and forming questions that will guide and inform that learning, homing in on the interests of the children. Each learning enquiry culminates in a Great Work outcome, linking and applying our core learning and foundation subjects to these rich, purposeful enquiry based projects.
We believe that this is what inspires our children to want to learn more and to develop a real love of learning in what they do. In addition, the children are delivered discrete learning sessions in phonics and spelling, English grammar and Maths concepts. This ‘joined up’ way of working gives the learning a purpose and makes sense to our children to enable them to develop transferable skills.
The learning is underpinned by the Principles of Harmony; this teaches us about the awe and wonder of the world around us. It is lived out through practices that focus on sustainability and well-being. It is delivered within a Christian ethos of love, kindness and joy.
This vision of education is something we are keen to share with others which includes; teachers, trainee teachers, parents, carers and educators from around the world.
A Quaker education prepares young people for a world that is constantly changing, and a future we cannot predict. We rely upon a timeless set of values and a philosophy developed over 300 years of experience in educating children.
We support the academic, social, physical, cultural and spiritual development of all our students. Many of our students achieve highly in their academic studies, and often go on to further study in their first-choice higher education institution. All are given the opportunity to develop passions and skills that will last the rest of their lives.
No matter what the future holds, the things our students learn during their time with us offer the best foundation for a successful life.
We care about our students
The uniqueness of each student matters to us. We recognise their individual needs, talents and potential rather than obsessing over league tables and test scores. We show students how exciting and fun learning can be. Our students develop on personal, spiritual and educational levels.
Each Quaker School has a different emphasis in its provision. But, you’ll find consistent Quaker values in education informing every aspect of their operation and every interaction with our students.
Our schools equip students with a respect for all, the ability to look for non-violent solutions to problems, the determination and resilience to help make the world a better place, and an enquiring, reflective mind. We aim to give students a passion for lifelong learning and the vital skills they need to make a difference in the world.
We believe that our values set us apart from other educational institutions in the UK and Ireland. These are some of the key values that inform the Quaker education philosophy:
Sharing the enriching power of silence and reflection
Quaker philosophy understands how enriching the power of silence and reflection can be. In the noisy, modern world, we make sure to take time each week to be still and enjoy a peaceful period of reflection. Students are encouraged, without any dogma, to explore the spiritual element to life.
“Silence is used in lessons to quieten the mind, reflect on behaviour or think about some topic or concern. A quiet mind learns better.”
Our schools make use of regular reflective time. The silence gives staff and students space for creative thinking, the deepening of understanding and the inspiration for action. This has been shown to result in Deep Learning, a critical learning skill that can have an impact long after school.
Free schools are funded by the government but are not run by the local authority. They have more control over how they do things. They’re ‘all-ability’ schools, so can not use academic selection processes like a grammar school. They do not have to follow the national curriculum.
Free schools can:
- set their own pay and conditions for staff
- change the length of school terms and the school day
Free schools are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by groups like:
- independent schools
- community and faith groups
More info and to find a school newschoolsnetwork.org/what-are-free-schools/find-a-free-school
Froebel’s conceptions on theory and practice of the kindergarten led to long term movements and far-reaching modifications of educational practice all across the world. Hence, Friedrich Froebel belongs to the classics of young children educational theory. Likewise, the concept of the kindergarten was a new form of culture that seeked to unite work, family and childcare. Froebel invented the profession of a kindergarten teacher, which turned out to be an essential contribution to the women’s emancipation movement in the 19th century.
Froebel recognised playing as the child’s method of picking up knowledge about itself and the world. In Bad Blankenburg he began to develop numerous toys intended to challenge the child to construct and experiment and in this way inspire its fantasy, train its ability to concentrate and at the same time further its social relations. The toys that became most famous, however, are the so-called “Spielgaben” (gifts) ball, cylinder, cube and the building blocks resulting from dividing the cube. These items are well-known all across the world.
Together with an adult, the child – by playing – gains first insights into mathematical and physical relationship and logical forms using the aforementioned elementary shapes. In this context, emotional care and linguistic supervision provided by an adult are required to facilitate self learning through playing.
A school using the Friedrich Froebel Approach
The long history of the Reggio Emilia Approach has its first traces in the mid- nineteenth century, and unfolds down the years in a series of significant moments.
This long timeline, leading to the present day, has brought Reggio Emilia and the Reggio Emilia Approach into contact with more than 145 countries and territories around the world.
A central figure in the history is Loris Malaguzzi, who together with the Municipality and several local administrators and citizens, especially women, contributed to the birth and development of Reggio Emilia’s network of municipal Infant-toddler Centres and Preschools.
The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy based on the image of a child with strong potentialities for development and a subject with rights, who learns through the hundred languages belonging to all human beings, and grows in relations with others.
Education is a right of all, of all children, and as such is a responsibility of the community. Education is an opportunity for the growth and emancipation of the individual and the collective; it is a resource for gaining knowledge and for learning to live together; it is a meeting place where freedom, democracy, and solidarity are practiced and where the value of peace is promoted. Within the plurality of cultural, ideological, political, and religious conceptions, education lives by listening, dialogue and participation; it is based on mutual respect, valuing the diversity of identities, competencies, and knowledge held by each individual and is therefore qualified as secular and open to exchange and cooperation.
Some schools using the Reggio Emilia Approach
madeleynurseryschool.co.uk – Telford, Shropshire
theoldschoolhousedaynursery.co.uk – Tamworth, West Midlands
reflectionsnurseries.co.uk – Worthing, West Sussex
hovevillage.com – Hove, East Sussex
Green School’s mission is to create a global community of learners, making our world more sustainable.
From our origins at Green School Bali, we have become a global movement in education, with schools opening in New Zealand, South Africa, and Tulum. Our ‘living’ curriculum educates for sustainability through community-integrated, entrepreneurial learning, in a natural environment.
We strive to champion a new model of education that nurtures the whole child, giving them agency in their own lives and learning, so that they can thrive with purpose in our ever-changing world. We invite you to join our global community and discover the difference for your family.
Green School was conceived in 2006 by life-long entrepreneurs, John and Cynthia Hardy. After years of homeschooling, they wanted their daughters to attend a school that they believed in. When John read Alan Wagstaff’s “Three Springs”, he was so inspired by the vision of a holistic learning community that he wanted to build it in Bali.
The catalyst came when John and Cynthia watched Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ – it compelled them to take up his call to action, and create a school that educates for sustainability.
In collaboration with master craftsmen, architects, permaculturist, academics and philosophers, Green School Bali opened in September 2008. Since then it has become a beacon for the future of education, with a growing community of Green Schools opening around the world.
Greenfields School based in East Sussex is an Independent Schools Association school with a Montessori-based Nursery and Reception class (forming the Early Years Foundation Stage), an Infant and Junior School, and a Senior School including Sixth Form and long and short-term English as a Foreign Language courses.
At Greenfields we recognise that every child is an individual. Every child has their own strengths, weaknesses, passions and goals. We take pride in providing the children with an environment in which they can learn and thrive during these profound years of their lives. School should be a place where one is encouraged, helped and inspired, at Greenfields we feel that we are achieving this on a daily basis.
We ensure that class sizes are small so that every child receives the attention that they deserve, on average, there is 1 teacher to 15 children. This means that we can deliver the renowned Cambridge Curriculum in a setting which allows each child to flourish.
We want the students to ask questions, to voice when they are not understanding something and to participate confidently in class lessons. The one to one attention is extremely valuable as it means that our students can be monitored on their individual programmes. If a child is excelling in a certain subject then they will be encouraged to go on to more advanced work and if they are behind in a subject, then they can be assisted to catch up.
Each child is individually catered for and weekly progress in each subject is mapped on a progress board which is updated regularly. These progress boards monitor how a child is progressing academically in a subject and in combination with the yearly assessments, they are used by teachers to plan future learning based on the strengths and weaknesses which emerge.
These tools help in two major ways:
- They show minimum standards that all students are expected to achieve that year in each of their subjects.
- They act as guides to help us support each student and improve our quality of delivery in the short, medium and long-term.
Our emphasis throughout the school is to develop skills within each student where they have the ability to think with and use knowledge as opposed to just ‘remembering it’ for examinations. At Greenfields the students learn the value of studying for oneself and thinking for oneself so that they can learn anything that they want to and then apply what they have learnt.
Part of the Greenfields’ ethics and morals system is the use of The Way to Happiness, a universal moral code devised by L. Ron Hubbard, the developer of the Study Technology used in the school. Find out more about that here: greenfieldsschool.com/executive-heads-welcome/the-way-to-happiness
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was an American author of science fiction and fantasy stories, and the founder of the Church of Scientology.
The Pikler approach is based on a kind and respectful relationship between an adult and infant, through tender care moments, a naturally paced motor development, free movement and uninterrupted play.
The Association Pikler-Lóczy Hungary began training in English in 2004, prior to that, the information about what Pikler was doing with her work and research at the Association Pikler-Lóczy Hungary (previously known as Lóczy) came to the English speaking world through other people and their interpretations of her teachings.
You may not have heard her name, but the genius of Dr Emmi Pikler (1902–1984) and ongoing exemplary childcare at the Pikler Institute in Budapest, Hungary is finally beginning to gain attention in the UK. The Pikler approach has for many years influenced early childhood care in countries in Europe and beyond, and was taken to the USA and developed as Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) by a woman called Magda Gerber, but it has been slow to reach these shores. Dr Pikler’s contribution to our understanding of young children and how to care for them now needs to be placed beside other important early years educationalists. What was discovered, and is still practised, at the Pikler Institute can offer a new benchmark of care that is fully in line with the recent discoveries of neuroscience and attachment theory.
Avanti exists to help each person become a well-rounded human being through intellectual, moral and spiritual growth, and so make the world a better place.
We are unique spiritual beings with incredible potential and we achieve our full potential by discovering and nurturing all parts of ourselves – intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual.
We choose how we wish to respond to life and what we nurture within us.
We care for and respect all life – human, animal and plant – and live in a way that causes the least possible harm.
We each observe the one same reality from our own unique perspective and engage in open-minded dialogue to deeply enrich our vision.
We serve a higher purpose by living a meaningful and satisfying life of contribution.
We are nourished by personal relationships that fulfil our need to love and be loved, encouraging us to be the best we can be.
At Park each child is on their own developmental path. The individual needs and interests of every child are therefore catered for along with plentiful opportunities for developing self confidence, self esteem and independence. We believe that a careful blending of emotional, intellectual, social, physical, spiritual and creative opportunities provides a wholesome, holistic and balanced education. Learning is built around themes related to science and the environment. This starts in the Early Years with children learning more about themselves and the changing cycles of nature and then moves on to older children considering such issues as habitats and ecology which are interesting to them now and important for the future.
Children have an opportunity to contribute to the scope of the themes and parents to actively support them. Education about the environment is a priority for the school and is both promoted and enhanced by its beautiful natural surroundings, food garden, and its ‘hands on’ community approach to education. Our aim is to help children to become enthusiastic, self motivated and creative learners throughout life with the perseverance to follow through their own ideas. Experience shows that this is just what our children do. We have our own Maths, English and Environmental Science curriculum which is drawn in part from the National Curriculum. We do not use SATs. Our approach is normally topic based linking different aspects of our curriculum. Older children have experience of a modern foreign language.
Studio schools are small schools (usually with around 300 pupils) teaching mainstream qualifications through project-based learning. This means working in realistic situations as well as learning academic subjects.
Students work with local employers and a personal coach, and follow a curriculum designed to give them the skills and qualifications they need in work, or to take up further education.
There are currently two Acorn Schools, Morden in South London and Nailsworth in Stroud.
More info to follow