The sustainable school model: Stroud School in Romsey
- Credit: Archant
Honesty, happiness, and respect are the three values that underpin Stroud School
We try to refer everything we do back to these three fundamental elements of education, whether it be academic, behavioural, or emotional. Everything else is determined by the pupils’ ability to be self-reflective, independent, and confident to make mistakes. These are the skills that will really make the difference for our learners, who will be the global, highly digital citizens of the future.
Sustainability has always been central to my vision for Stroud School: thinking about the impact of our growth in the broadest of terms. Whether that’s maintaining the small classes that are so important to the ‘family’ feel and individualised learning we offer, or working to minimise our carbon footprint and develop our infrastructure in as ‘green’ a way as possible.
I am proud of our work with Eco Schools. We were the first school in Hampshire to achieve Green Flag status and we remain passionate about limiting our impact on the environment. The new modular buildings, which have been specifically designed to facilitate pre-prep learning, are linked to our biomass boiler, reducing the need for oil or gas services. External cladding has been fitted to increase the building’s efficiency and keep down energy consumption, and before the build began, we planted 420 trees planted in the grounds to help offset the development.
Stroud is a progressive school, at the forefront of educational practice, providing a modern learning environment with traditional roots. Our pupils learn early on to respect and care for the wider world, not least through plenty of exposure to nature. Forest School has been an integrated part of pre-prep education at the school for many years and our Beach School has been a hugely popular and rewarding addition to the curriculum.
‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ is a priority across the school. A large body of research shows that outdoor learning improves children’s health, increases their enjoyment and engagement with learning, and leads to a greater connection with nature. There is growing evidence that learning outdoors engenders more permanent learning experiences, as fun and risk heightens the senses and awareness. This enables teachers to pin learning outcomes to these new experiences. The bulk of the research into this programme comes from the highly regarded Scandinavian education system, which excels in PISA tests and long-term empirical studies.
At Stroud, I regularly see excellent teaching and impressive outcomes from core subjects where lessons are planned outside. For example, Year 3’s study of Ted Hughes’ Iron Man included a full-scale chalk drawing on our tennis courts, bringing to life and contextualising the fantastic descriptive language such as “his great iron head, shaped like a dustbin but as big as a bedroom”. From poetry in the rose garden, to learning the French names of trees in the orchard, or parachute investigations on the running track to analyse the effects of drag forces. By taking these concepts outside of the classroom pupils retain the information far more effectively and engage more in their learning than if it’s just set out on a whiteboard or in a textbook.
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The great joy of being a teacher is being able to live vicariously through the achievements, experiences, and dreams of your class. Headteachers can be somewhat removed from this, with a day job easily filled with paperwork, budgetary reports and development planning. The key, in my view, is to make sure I spend time regularly in the playground to see the first time a child successfully reaches the end of the ‘monkey’ bars, or to engage in debate with Year 7 about William’s veracity in the Battle of Hastings, or even just to spend five minutes of a Friday afternoon laughing with the Reception class about any number of things that delights the 5 year old mind. It not only gives me the chance to reconnect with our pupils, but brings to life those central tenets of honesty, respect and happiness.
Stroud School in Romsey is the preparatory school for King Edward VI School, educating girls and boys aged 3 to 13. Set within 22 acres of beautiful parkland and woodland, it encourages exploration and a love of learning. Stroud is holding an Open Day on Saturday 16 March 2019, 10am – 1pm. For more information, visit www.stroud-kes.org.uk