We are a group of parents, keen to be closely involved in our children’s education, with experience of conventional schooling and home education. Our children have also attended small schools out of the area and we have visited and formed links with others. The educational approach we aspire to for our children however is not available in West Sussex. We have considered moving but feel that it is important for our children to be educated within their own community and to have a sense of belonging.
Thus has begun for us the exciting experience of setting up our own school.
A school where teachers, students and parents work together; where students are known individually; and where parents are encouraged to be involved in their child’s education by contributing to the school’s development. We aim to offer learning opportunities that are relevant and meaningful, reflecting a holistic approach to education that takes into account each child’s emotional, physical,social and spiritual development.
We hope you will be inspired to join us!
Stephen Rix, Headteacher
I have had a very wide experience of teaching, ranging from primary schools to sixth form colleges, and including large comprehensive schools. I have always encouraged my pupils and students to develop their own motivation and self-discipline, but have found this easier to accomplish away from the demands and restrictions of state control. Since leaving the state sector, I have worked at Inwoods Small School and Brockwood Park School, and, most recently, as headteacher of The Small School in Hartland, North Devon.
My partner, Bridget Thomson, is a trustee of South Downs Small School, with particular responsibility for policies. Our one-year-old son, Auryn, has already given the new school’s first lessons, showing us all that children are natural learners, and know instinctively what they need to learn and what they want to learn. It is this sense of unlimited curiosity that we hope to encourage and nurture at South Downs Small School.
Within the secure framework that a small school provides, teachers and students can feel free to explore their own interests and challenges with mutual respect, good humour, and, above all, a sense of genuine adventure. In the classroom, this requires the teacher to stimulate and stretch each student according to their individual strengths and weaknesses; beyond the classroom, students should be given responsibility for the content and direction of their own learning.
As well as being a preparation for later life, education is also an end in itself, with its own challenges and rewards. When their achievements are set in the context of a cohesive, vibrant and forward-looking academic community, the gains for all those involved are inestimable. At South Downs Small School we want to see our work in local, national and global contexts: only then can we all make genuine progress as learners and as teachers.