“The maturity and capacity for critical reflection among the older pupils remain evident in and beyond the classrooms in the family atmosphere of the school. ” SIS Report, 2018
Our aim, in everything we do, is to bring the children into a relationship with the world.
This means cultivating genuine interest, understanding and an open, questioning attitude. These three things work together. Questioning without interest leads to cynicism; interest cannot be cultivated if questioning is encouraged too early; a wish to understand develops out of interest; questions cannot arise without understanding.
In the Lower School, as the children develop more objectivity, the basic principle becomes ‘the world is beautiful’.
The children gradually move from experiencing the world revolving around them to feeling that they are involved, with others, in something much greater and full of wonder. They are introduced first to the world of nature – as something that has been given to us – and then to human culture – what human beings have created for themselves and each other. We focus on the wonderful achievements of mankind, so that the children between 7 and 12 feel awe and respect for what human beings have achieved, and experience that this is a picture of their own potential.
In this way, when they reach the Middle School, where the principle becomes ‘the world is true’, and look also at the human potential for destruction, this rests on the foundation that has been established: a feeling of belonging to the world; that human beings have created something beautiful and meaningful; that they themselves have the potential to create or to destroy; and perhaps most importantly, that they have a choice about what they do with that potential.
Class Teachers stay with the same group of children for eight years, from age 7 to 14. This means that the teachers know their children very well and are best placed to understand what support or challenge each one needs, and to build on what has been learnt in previous years.
This is a two-hour lesson first thing every morning in which subjects such as writing and reading, mathematics, geography, history and sciences are taught individually in three or four-week blocks. In this way, each topic can be entered into deeply and thoroughly for that time and, through continuity, the children can form a strong connection with what they are learning.
The Main Lesson is carefully and rhythmically structured so that the children have to listen, work independently, participate, collaborate and think at different times. The subjects taught in the Main Lesson are broad throughout the school and increase in diversity as the children get older.
We believe that children learn best through being active. Main Lessons often involve singing, music, recitation, movement, painting and drawing. These practical and artistic activities are not ‘added on’ to the conventional modes of learning; they are the mode of learning, and an integral part of any lesson. The children learn through them in a multi-sensory way, developing practical understanding, imagination and creativity.
As we have seen, the content of the lessons in each class is guided very much by the developmental needs – physical, emotional, cognitive – of the children in the class. The way children see the world and their place in it develops gradually, through identifiable stages, from total immersion to varying degrees of objectivity by the time they reach adulthood.
Beyond Middle school
At the end of Class 8, the children leave our school to continue their studies elsewhere. For the past 30 years, we have fostered strong relationships with the wider education community. The children have gone onto to succeed at local state and independent schools as well as performing arts schools in the area before deciding on their further education needs.