Sands School – Innovative education since 1987
An alternative independent school for 11 – 17 year-olds. Genuinely child-centred teaching in small classes with a democratic ethos that fosters trust, mutual respect and self-directed learning.
At Sands we promote social equality – we work on the principal that every member of the community, regardless of age, status or experience, should have an equal say in the way our school is run. That is why we have no head teacher, or senior management team: all of our decisions are made by the School Meeting, which meets at least once a week, and to which every member of the school is invited to contribute ideas and opinions on a ‘one voice; one vote’ basis.
We all respond differently to boundaries and structure but all of us, children and adults alike, benefit from some degree of both. Our timetable offers the key structure of the school day, and if a child needs it then most of their week can be spent in activities organised by adults. We encourage the Y groups to find most of their activities from within the timetable’s menu, and as children get older they seem to appreciate progressively more freedom and choice. They participate in more of the meetings, taking more responsibility for the school and are forced to organise their time more carefully in order to strike a balance between exams and school affairs. Once children move into the ‘O’ groups they work with their academic tutor to construct a GCSE programme. Most choose between six and nine subjects; sit some of them at the end of their second year of study and complete their third year by taking more. The three-year GCSE programme we have adopted allows us to educate fully and avoid blanket education through multiple choice. It does mean a longer GCSE experience but it offers the chance for more deep and profound learning.
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