Short of actually visiting, perhaps the best way to communicate the atmosphere of the Young People’s Community is to describe the work they have been doing recently. With that in mind, here is a selection of work the young people have been doing this past term:
- A photo-essay on the different kinds of mushrooms found in our 13 acre woodland this Autumn.
- A re-interpretation of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar with Stalin as the protagonist, devouring country after country.
- A video game in Scratch featuring Donald Trump, a wall, lots of money, and a few guns.
- Beautifully crafted tea-light holders from fallen oak branches in our woods.
- Dormice nesting boxes set up and monitored, and newts carefully assisted in completing their life cycle.
- A map of the world representing the political systems of all 195 countries.
- The floor in our woodwork studio put down – insulation and all.
- Fractions and percentages.
- Soapstone carving.
- Heart-rate experiments.
- Our first commercial organic crop planted: delicious green broad beans.
- Book reviews and poems.
- Dynamic geometry using Geogebra.
- Recording in the music studio.
- Field trips to study the landscapes of Sussex.
- Workshops on campaign design.
- Putting up electric fencing for ducks.
- A legal briefing on Brexit.
Welcome to life in the Young People’s Community: a 21st century education, for a 21st century world.
There are three pillars to the students’ experience:
- Academic studies
- Real work
- Community living
The school offers a strong academic programme with the emphasis on helping students to take ownership of their own learning. The young people are, or are led towards being, self-motivated; plan and monitor the use of their time, and are given the resources, time and space to take their work to a high level. Visitors often comment that the academic atmosphere is more recognisable as belonging to a University than to a school.
Students work towards the following GCSE qualifications at age 16:
- English Language (Edexcel)
- English Literature (Edexcel)
- Mathematics (CIE)
- Combined Science (CIE)
Other GCSEs will be offered on student request, provided that staff with the appropriate qualifications and experience can be recruited.
The environments are equipped to an exceptionally high standard particularly in the sciences where we have access to the “Living Laboratory” of the walled garden and woodland.
All staff are suitably qualified and experienced. Our staff-to-student ratio in 2016/17 is 1:3.
The young people run a business that sells a variety of products and services. They sell their art and craftwork,manage a small bed-and-breakfast for visitors to the school, and grow and sell Soil-Association certified organic produce. It gives them genuine joy and satisfaction to participate in the adult world of production and exchange, and raises all sorts of socio-economic questions for study and discussion.
The young people are responsible for most aspects of their daily life including budget management. Each week the community meets to discuss the events of the week gone by and the week ahead, and other business related to community life. Their Guide facilitates these meetings, offering suggestions and direction when necessary, allowing the adolescents to learn through experience the strengths and weaknesses of the democratic process.
And amidst the work and study, the adolescents also have time to just be. They have a deep need for silence and solitude as well as the company of others, and both these are possible on the land, where clocks run at a slower pace. The world seems to slow down, and the quiet voices within them get a chance to be heard.Protected from noisy consumerism, the young people find the space and time to process the vast changes taking place within them. This land is like a chrysalis within which these butterflies have the space to construct and perfect themselves.