Many of the philosophies behind Educare Small School could be applied to any school size. The smallness of the school, however, brings its own special advantages.
Children function as individuals rather than in groups. This fosters respect for each other's differences so that the children are relatively non-judgemental.
Being together in a small environent means that children of all ages mix. The older children are very caring towards the younger ones and they all learn from one another.
Peer pressure is at a minimum - the commericialism that assails young people today has less impact at Educare.
The children mature at their own rate. Peer pressure forces some children to grow up before they really want to or act older than their age. At Educare they follow their own pace.
The older children seem to have a true internal maturity that isn't about external expectation or pressure.
Bullying can happen everywhere, but it gets seen and dealt with before it can develop. Group bullying wouldn't really have a chance to get started.
Parents can talk to the teacher and raise any issues on a daily basis.
The Hall is amazing - to see children of all ages in small groups just getting on with their stuff, able to focus and not disrupting one another. It really works.
The mix of parents from very different socio economic and cultural backgrounds is diverse but the sense of community fosters respect and non-judgement.
"At Educare everyone knows everyone else, I know all the children and who their parents are." - Saskia (pupil 2000-2007)
"They learn to get on with people they wouldn't normally gravitate towards. They find what is valuable in the people around - it's a lesson for life" - Jessica, parent to Theo, Ella and Hannah
This is an approach of re-educating the body so that it is in correct alignment and unites the mind-body relationship.
The Alexander Technique teaches the skilful "use of one's self": how we move, how we stay still, how we breathe, how we learn, how we organise our awareness and focus of attention and, above all, how we choose our reactions in increasingly demanding situations.
It is a subtle and thoughtful discipline, but essentially practical and problem-solving. The Alexander Technique works through re-establishing the natural relationship between the head, the neck and the back - the 'core' of the body that supports the strength of the limbs and which provides the structural environment for breathing and for the internal organs.
We start every morning with Movement Circle. The children and teachers come together to practise a series of slow continuous exercises based on some of the principles of Tai Chi and Energy balancing. These exercises improve co-ordination, help the children to become focused and prepare everyone for the day's activities.
A Circle is used for many regular events and celebrations like Friday Circle, Birthday Circle, Leaving Circle, Harvest Circle. It symbolises a joining together and gives everyone involved an opportunity to participate equally. Drama Circle and Friday Circle happen weekly and give children a time to investigate their feelings, understand each other's differences and praise each others strengths. Birthday Circles happen for everyone however old and Farewell Circles give closure to the leaver and also the rest of the school. Harvest Circle teaches us to share our resources and consider a community wider than our own.
After lunch every day the whole school lies down for Quiet Time. We are all still and silent, either listening to music or doing a simple meditation. This gives the children an important pause after playtime to focus and reenergise for the afternoon's activities. When our Alexander Teacher is at the school she works on the children at this time with the help of two or three of the older children.