We believe that the educational, social and emotional needs of each child are best served in a small-scale environment. We operate our school along the lines of a caring, extended ‘family’ where the classes do not exceed more than 12 children per session. This is sufficiently small for children and teachers to get to know each other well, to feel an important part of the whole group and consequently develop a much stronger sense of personal and communal responsibility.
As a small school we are able to tailor our curriculum to suit the specific needs of each individual child, ensuring that no child is ever academically left behind or socially excluded. We are also able to offer flexi-schooling, designed to support those parents who also home educate their children. The New Forest Small School is a member of Human Scale Education and has links with Education Otherwise, a home schooling organisation.
Our educational philosophy is founded upon the belief that the full potential of children may only be realised when their sense of well being and belonging is at its optimum.
At a time when local infant and primary classes have numbers of 30-40 children per class, and most private schools have a minimum total intake of over 300 children, we offer parents a small, family-like environment for their children. While the government talks about but fails to implement smaller class sizes, we guarantee a maximum of 10 children in each class, in a school with a total intake of 50 children. With a staff to pupil ratio of approximately 1 to 8 over the whole school we are able to ensure that no child is left behind, and that each child has a unique level of care and assistance. Educational research has consistently shown the advantages a small school has over larger institutions. For example in Issues in Educational Research Vol. 6 (1) M. Mok and M. Flynn conclude -
Small schools were found to enhance interpersonal relationships (Bryk, 1996), increase student extra curricular participation (Barker and Gump, 1964; Oxley, 1994; Stevens and Peltier, 1994), provide more opportunities for developing students’ leadership potential (Bryk, Lee and Holland, 1993), have more effective school discipline (Haller, 1992; Rowan, Raudenbush and Kang, 1991), improved school climate (Lindsay, 1984; Oxley, 1994). The advantages of small schools over large ones were particularly salient in the case of disadvantaged students (Howley, 1994; Klonsky, 1995) and schools located in rural areas (Haller, 1992).
As a totally independent small school we are in a unique position to offer a curriculum that is both relevant to the times we live in and is specially designed to address the educational needs of the whole child. Whereas state schools are inevitably tied to the national curriculum and the latest political directives, and most private schools are tied to their traditions and trustees, the only tie we have is our commitment to offering each child the highest standard of educational care.
Our curriculum offers unique opportunities for:
Our curriculum not only offers excellent academic standards, but also incorporates time for children to explore and create for themselves. A significant part of the timetable is given over to developing the child’s social and emotional language, to helping the child blossom in themselves so that they have the confidence to cope with life’s challenges and the desire to explore and learn.
We are able to do this because of the flexibility of our curriculum and by building close relationships with parents. This allows parents who also wish to home school their children to attend our school. Each half term parents are advised as to what subject areas we will be covering with a view to their supporting these studies at home. Parents who require extra assistance in their home schooling are also offered detailed work programmes and study guides based on our work at school.