It's time we started showing children some trust and respect rather than simply settting them up as 'the enemy'!

Richard Palmer's picture
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St. Christopher is a Truly Independent School for boys and girls age 3 – 18. One of the earliest progressive Schools it has maintained its distinctive ethos in a shifting educational world. It is the truly independent nature of the School that makes it so distinctive and so successful.

We’re all on first name terms, including Richard, the Head. Campus life is informal (there is no uniform, bells, chapel, etc) and purposeful, boarding is different, lessons are exciting, results are excellent. We’re studious, creative, musical and active. We’re involved in the local community and we do development work around the world; our menu is 100% vegetarian. A St. Chris education is outstanding.

The recent inspection by ISI concluded: “The School meets its aim to help pupils develop curiosity, competence and judgment. In lessons and written work, they show a high level of understanding with no difference in standards between boys and girls. The pupils’ excellent
behaviour contributes to the progress they make in their work.”

The school operates on the basis of trust and respect between all members of the School – staff and pupils. There is a School Council (of pupils). Any decisions they take are then put before a School Meeting. Any decisions the School takes are enacted. The Head has a power of veto but this has been used just 4 times in the past 25 years.

The School has a strong commitment to community service, both in a local and international context. There is a long-time link with projects in Rajasthan, India, and a developing connection with a project that we founded in Kosovo. Increasing numbers of pupils are involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. A wide ranging programme of international and local visits is also an important feature of the School. We are delighted to have been accredited twice with the International Schools Award by the DfES through the British Council. Our links with the more local community are also very strong with us contributing to, and benefitting from, a broad range of services and organisations.

It is our willingness to trust young people; to give them the opportunity to grow from triumphs and mistakes and our belief that education should be people centred that makes us different; and truly independent.

Since its Foundation in 1915 the School has had a reputation as a “progressive” School. From the start it was co-educational. It believed in a broad academic curriculum and the provision of a wide-range of extra-curricular activities. It encouraged an international outlook. It promoted close relationships with parents. Pupils were to be involved in the government of the School and contrived competition was to be absent as an incentive to learning. A strong emphasis was placed on healthy living and the School’s diet remains vegetarian.

For many years, from 1925 to 1980, the School was run by members of the Harris family who were Quakers. This has had an impact on the School in terms of the requirement for a period of silence at most school meetings, in the practice of full and often fairly frank debate, speaking ‘Truth to Power’ and in the desire to see some good (“something of God” in Quaker terminology) in everyone.
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