Small Schools

NASS - National Association of Small Schools

The National Association of Small Schools (NASS) states that smaller schools offer ideal conditions for learning:

“Children in small schools are secure, work hard and co-operate effectively, are happy to accept responsibility, have self-esteem, behave very well.

NASS believes that small schools are essential to the future well-being of society, ideally placed to serve as significant enterprises in their communities. Both the education of the children and the life of the community are enriched.

The small-scale, human-scale model of education represented in small schools is the closest to the way all of us learn in the real world at home and at work. It thrives on mixed talents, teamwork and individual ideas mediated through others as Vygotsky, Bruner and Wenger have so well argued.”


The charity, Human Scale Education would agree. They believe that smallness of scale helps to create the interpersonal relationships that enable children and young people to become confident and resourceful individuals, capable of respecting and caring for each other and for the environment. Educationalist and author of Alternative Approaches to Education, Fiona Carnie says:

“If the primacy of relationships and the concept of care are of central importance in encouraging learning, the size and scale of the learning environment must be significant.

There has been much research over the decades – mostly in the US (see the Small Schools Coalition) – into optimum size of schools which, on the whole, indicates that children do better in smaller schools.”

Carnie points out that it is not smallness per se that is important, for there can be bad small schools; it is what smallness or human scale makes possible that counts. Smaller structures make it possible to put into practice the principals of:

  • Positive relationships,
  • A holistic approach,
  • Democratic participation,
  • Involvement of parents and the wider community,
  • A commitment to a fairer and more sustainable world.

Small Schools Directory

You can search our directory for Small Schools in the UK.

Books About Small Schools

Alternative Approaches to Education, a Guide for Teachers and Parents, by Fiona Carnie

Why I Started a Small School: A nurturing, human scale approach to education and parenting, by Rosalyn Spencer

Websites About Small Schools 

Human Scale Education – Advises groups of parents and teachers wishing to set up their own community school and encourages schools in the state sector to work in human scale ways.

National Association of Small Schools (NASS) – Campaigns for small schools, fighting closures, promoting their benefits and sharing best practice.

Small Schools Coalition – Advances the interests of US small schools (ideally around 230 students), the families they serve, and the teachers who thrive in this optimal educational environment.