Each Quaker School has a different emphasis in its provision. But, you’ll find consistent Quaker values in education informing every aspect of their operation and every interaction with our students.
Our schools equip students with a respect for all, the ability to look for non-violent solutions to problems, the determination and resilience to help make the world a better place, and an enquiring, reflective mind. We aim to give students a passion for lifelong learning and the vital skills they need to make a difference in the world.
We believe that our values set us apart from other educational institutions in the UK and Ireland. These are some of the key values that inform the Quaker education philosophy:
Sharing the enriching power of silence and reflection
Quaker philosophy understands how enriching the power of silence and reflection can be. In the noisy, modern world, we make sure to take time each week to be still and enjoy a peaceful period of reflection. Students are encouraged, without any dogma, to explore the spiritual element to life.
“Silence is used in lessons to quieten the mind, reflect on behaviour or think about some topic or concern. A quiet mind learns better.”
Our schools make use of regular reflective time. The silence gives staff and students space for creative thinking, the deepening of understanding and the inspiration for action. This has been shown to result in Deep Learning, a critical learning skill that can have an impact long after school.
Respect for every person
We know that every student has a valuable contribution to make. Quaker philosophy believes that all people, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual preference or physical or learning difference, deserve to be respected. That’s why our schools are such welcoming, friendly and rewarding places to study and work.
Whether you’re a student, member of staff, governor, or visitor to one of our schools, you’ll be treated with the utmost respect. Any contribution you make will be considered and valued.
Showing students they are valued and supported allows them to develop into confident, knowledgeable individuals. It also encourages them to be kind and respectful to others, creating a friendlier, more peaceful world.
Promoting positive and peaceful environments
Quaker philosophy emphasises the power of non-violent solutions to problems, both locally and globally. Students in our classrooms learn the value of peaceful conflict resolution. They are encouraged to work together to resolve any disagreements that arise between them.
“The Quaker emphasis in education probably lies in non-violence, in participation, and in caring. Not only to run the school without violence, but to produce young people who will feel a concern to reduce the level of violence in the world.”
Quaker Faith & Practice 23.74
We know conflict is an unavoidable part of life. We always work to resolve any problem presented to us in a calm and positive way. Anger and violence have no place in our schools. Students learn to be positive and peaceful through the example set by their teachers and the other staff working and living at the school.
Celebrating truthfulness and integrity
Quaker philosophy celebrates truthfulness and integrity. We aim to lead by example to our students by always speaking truthfully and maintaining our individual integrity.
We encourage our students to develop their own inner integrity. We equip them with the skills and resources they need to challenge injustice confidently. All students in our institutions are supported in their own quest for truth. They’re invited not to accept everything they are presented with as fact.
Our schools are free from dogma and promote that there is no monopoly on truth. The majority of staff and students in our schools across the UK and Ireland don’t identify as Quakers. Our values and philosophy can be shared by all to help create a more thoughtful, truthful society with integrity and a sustainable worldview.
Working towards social responsibility and global sustainability
Quaker values in education help each student to develop an understanding of their own social consciousness and their position as a local and global citizen. Students leave a Quaker institution with the passion and determination to make the world a better place and the desire to help others.
In 2011, Quakers in Britain made a commitment to become a low-carbon, sustainable community. Students in our classrooms explore steps that can be taken every day by individuals to reduce our own ecological footprints, and several of our schools make use of renewable power sources and recycling waste management schemes. We teach our students though the example we set and the culture of our schools as well as in their direct lesson schedules.
Encouraging open and inquisitive minds
Schools which practise the Quaker philosophy encourage students to explore their own interests and to develop an open and inquisitive mind. They have lots of opportunities to try new things and get away from the classroom. Our students learn more than just the national curriculum.
Students gain the confidence they need to question the world around them. They can coherently express their concerns, thoughts and insights. We teach them to be prepared to challenge authority, including our own. Our students become thoughtful and conscientious young people.
To provide a rich, challenging education free from anxiety
Quaker values in education are about much more than simply passing tests. When a student is appropriately challenged by their study, they’re more engaged and happier in their work. We see students’ enjoyment every day reflected in their understanding of a subject. This helps them to attain much higher marks when it comes to formal assessment.
Quaker values in education aren’t based on league table positions and test scores. Our students typically don’t face the same fear of failure and performance anxiety as those in other schools. In freeing students from performance stress, they’re able to enjoy learning. This means they often attain much better results when they’re ready to be tested.
There are lots of support systems in place in our schools to ensure students physical and mental well being is cared for. As well as access to onsite medical care, all students have an excellent network for their emotional support.
Each student is typically assigned to a tutor group, a small class that meets regularly to address any concerns they may have and to celebrate their successes. House parents are also available 24 hours a day to offer support to boarding students.
Small class sizes mean close working relationships between staff and student develop. These relationships allow teachers to quickly identify if someone in their class is struggling, and give students the confidence to speak up about any issues.
Children who are encouraged to obsess about target grades and government tests are often frightened to experiment and their creativity and love of learning becomes inhibited. As adults, we don’t expect to become better at everything we want to learn without experimentation and mistakes, and it seems strange not to encourage this resilient attitude in young learners.Michael Goodwin
Former Headmaster of Sibford School
Come and see for yourself
The best way to get a true sense of Quaker values in education is to see them in action. Book yourself a visit to one of our schools and discover why learning surrounded by the Quaker philosophy is so rewarding.