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History of the New Forest Small School

The New Forest Small School was first established in 1994 as the New Forest Montessori Pre-school for children between the ages of 2 to 4 years. Founded by Nicholas and Alison Alp, the school initially opened as a very small school with just 5 pupils! The school was full within the first year and has remained so ever since.

The original ethos of the school was based upon the Montessori method of education, within a small-scale framework. Over time this has evolved to incorporate other educational influences, such as Reggio Emilia and Rudolf Steiner. As the school developed its own particular philosophy the name Montessori was dropped, although we continue to use many of the materials devised by Maria Montessori, particularly in Kindergarten.

Although the school began as a pre-school, so many parents began to request that their children stay on with us after they turned 4, that within 3 years, half the school’s intake was of infant school age (4 – 7 years old). As the parents of those children approaching 8 years old wanted a primary class for their children, we decided to open one. This new class opened in January 2002. In September 2003 we opened a secondary class for children aged between 11 and 14 and in October 2008 a new space was created for the secondary class.

In January 2012 we finally realised our dream of moving into our own school building and thus began a new and exciting chapter in the history of The New Forest Small School…


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At the time of writing we have been in our ‘new’ building for over 7 years now. Meanwhile the school has gone from strength to strength, achieving outstanding GCSE results and providing a unique and enriching education for many children. For the last 5 years the school has been full, with a maximum of 72 pupils attending from ages 3 to 16 – a major change from those first days nearly 25 years ago when we had a total of just 5 children.

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