The School Day
The school day starts at 9.30 and finishes at 3.30 and is designed to create a balance between work and play, between being indoors and being outside. This balance varies according to age, as can be seen in the Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary timetables.
The school day begins with a period of orientation that gives students time to settle in, talk with friends and prepare for their first lessons. In the Kindergarten and Lower Primary classes this period lasts for 60 minutes and incorporates 'free choice' and individual work/tuition. The older classes have a 15 minute free period before lessons begin.
Lessons take place predominantly in the classrooms but where appropriate we also use the forest environment, which surrounds the school. The classrooms are designed to be welcoming and comfortable spaces, with sofas and quiet areas. Rather than using individual desks, the students share 3 large wooden tables, arranged in a horseshoe shape. This ensures that all children feel included in the lessons and everyone in the class can see and speak directly to one another.
Each lesson lasts for 1 hour (apart from the last lesson of the day, which is 1 hour and 10 minutes). Whereas lessons in the lower school focus on active rather than passive participation, upper school lessons focus more on group discussions. Please see our School Philosophy and Academic sections for further details.
Art and Drama lessons take place in the school studio and Music lessons usually operate from the Music room. Geography lessons often utilise the forest environment. Science takes place either in classrooms or in the studio when a larger space is required.
We believe that break periods are just as important to a child's development as lessons. This is not surprising when you think about it because, as adults, our most significant memories of school are often centred around 'playtime'. During these times we learnt the key personal and social skills we need for life. On the playing fields we began the long, sometimes arduous journey towards self-knowledge.
At our school break periods could not be more different from the chaotic and often intimidating playground scenes found at many schools. When children feel safe from bullying and are able to trust their fellow students and the staff, and when they have not been overloaded with too many lessons and too much time passively sat at their desks, they are able to play and interact mostly harmoniously and co-operatively.
As our students have also learnt to appreciate difference rather than discriminate against it, they are able to play and socialise across all classes and year groups. On the football pitch you will see students of all ages and abilities absorbed in a game of football. You will probably see a member of staff joining in as well. As Ofsted wrote about our students,
'They get on well together irrespective of age, gender or background. Students who have transferred from other schools say that this is one of the aspects of the school they appreciate the most.'
In the garden seating area you will find all ages happily chatting with one another, maybe also playing music or sometimes chess. There are quiet spaces for children to read or just be. On the swings, the see-saw, the play dens and climbing areas in the garden you can observe the younger classes freely playing, largely without conflict. And when there are minor conflicts they are swiftly resolved usually by the children themselves and if not with the help from staff nearby.
In the surrounding forest you will often find the lower secondary classes on the tree swings or running through the forest playing games. Sometime the older secondary classes will join in too, or they will be found sat around a log, absorbed in conversations.
If the true state of children in a school can be seen by how those children play and interact with one another, then break periods at our school simply reflect the sense of belonging, calm and happiness that arises when children are in a school where they feel safe, appreciated and respected.
Free to be Spontaneous
Although the school day is clearly structured with its timetables and set lessons there are occasions when a class will spontaneously do something different. Sometimes it is just too beautiful a day to be stuck inside and the forest all around us is just too inviting not to be explored...