Student experience in all our schools is shaped by Quaker values and educational philosophy. That’s not to say that students are expected to self-identify as a Quaker; our schools are all free from religious dogma.
Education with us is built on the importance and value inherent within every person and all contributions are heard and considered equally. This allows us to provide respectful, nurturing environments for study and to support the progression of each student individually.
I think a Quaker school stands for friendship, working together in a community. It also stands for respect between teachers and students.Sixth-year student, Newtown School (2012)
A typical day in a Quaker school
No two Quaker schools are exactly alike, teachers have the freedom to teach the curriculum in the way they think best for their specific class. However, while timings and content may vary, a school day will look roughly as follows.
Before school starts
For boarders and students that make use of breakfast sessions, a nutritious breakfast will be served to give them the best fuel to make the most of their morning. Lots of our schools open up their study spaces for early risers and those students who want to get some study in before their classes start.
All staff and students gather together to share in a moment of reflective silence regularly during the term. Some meet daily, others weekly, but joining together for a moment of peace is shared by all the Quaker schools and is something that we value very highly.
Taking the time to sit quietly and calmly together to reflect on their learning is incredibly beneficial to students. Research into the mental health of young people has shown the importance of mindfulness, and these moments of silent thought provide the space they need to reflect on themselves, their lessons, and the wider world in a deeply moving and positive way.
Our meetings are a really interesting time to think through what is ahead in the day.John
Students will attend their morning school sessions with their teachers. These cover all the mandatory subjects on the National Curriculum as well additional subjects provided by each school. Students often get a break between their different lessons to give them space to think about what they’ve learned and prepare for their next session.
Younger students in nursery, reception and junior schools can also have lessons in the Forest Schools that are run by the different institutions. These lessons get the students out of the classroom and into nature, where they can learn valuable outdoor skills, develop a love for the natural world and feel confident within it.
Lunchtime is a social time in a Quaker school. The schools all have their own catering services with specially created menus to give students healthy and varied meal choices. These can be tailored to the events that are happening around the school to enhance their learning and experiences.
We also use lunchtime as extra time for extra-curricular study. Many schools run clubs and activities that students can sign up to and enjoy. These can be anything and often schools listen to the interests of their students and bring in new activities based off their feedback.
As a student there is no place where I can imagine having been happier, or more supported, encouraged to achieve and to do so on my own terms.Past sixth form student at Leighton Park
After lunch, students return to their classrooms or outdoor study space for more structured lessons from their teachers. A mutually respectful learning environment between student and teacher exists in our schools and students are confident enough to ask questions and contribute their ideas. This relationship allows students to have a more positive and engaging education that will last a lifetime.
After school sessions
Many after school clubs and activities are run for students to take part in, whether they board or attend only during the day. These sessions are always well attended and exciting. They can cover any topic that the school is interested in and has the resource to put on, including things like horse-riding, film production, work towards award or community projects, creative writing, coding, jazz, parkour, cooking, or so much more.
Take a look at each school’s website to learn more about what they offer in terms of extra-curricular activities.
Tea time and into the evening
Tea time procedure differs at each school and in each year group. Older students are often encouraged to cook their own meals to help get them prepare for independent living after school. Younger students can work together with House Parents to create communal meals and develop their own cooking skills, or can sit down and enjoy food prepared by the on-site chefs.
Evenings are for students to relax, spend time with their friends, take time to pursue their interests and do any extra school work they’re really interested in. The schools have recreational activities in the houses the students can use, including TVs, games and game consoles, pool and ping pong tables and much more.
This school really encourages you to be an individual, it doesn’t shape you in a certain way like other schools might. It encourages you to be yourself, and be successful as yourself.Gabriel
Lower Sixth, Leighton Park
Weekend at a Quaker school are full of activity. There are trips to the local cinema, theatre, bowling alley, and sporting events to name just a few. A Quaker education gives students a love of learning and helps them to gain as many experiences as possible throughout their time at school.
As well as the chance to get offsite for fun, students who choose to remain on the campus can take part in weekend workshops and activities. Specialist instructors and tutors are invited to deliver sessions to students that sit outside the expertise of their regular teachers.
Students regularly head further afield for their school trips to assist in their education and to broaden their experiences. Trips based in the UK and Ireland in the past have included visits to: Nidderdale, Wales, the North Yorkshire Moors, Cumbria, Dearne Valley, the Howardian Hills, Warwick, Blenheim Place, Shrewsbury, and the Isle of Wight.
Students are also encouraged to visit other countries to experience cultures and life around the world. We arrange trips for students to travel all over the world. They have the opportunity to visit countries, learn about the history and culture there and often our older students can undertake humanitarian placements to help improve a community. Places that are often visited include: Paris, Costa Rica, Berlin, Krakow, South Africa, India, Italy, Iceland and many more.
One of my favourite things about Leighton Park is the phenomenal mutual trust and respect between teachers and students.Sixth form student from Leighton Park School
As well as offering a fantastic education to all their students including a wealth of different opportunities and extra-curricular activities, Quaker schools care about their students as individuals. They offer top quality pastoral care to make sure that every student is happy and healthy during their time at school.
Students and teachers develop excellent relationships that are founded on trust and respect. Small class sizes mean that all people in a classroom are heard and valued and it’s easy for teachers to spot if one of their students is unhappy.
If something is upsetting a student, on an academic or personal level, all staff in a Quaker school are on hand to help them express their feelings and to work together for a solution. Children experience lots of changes as they grow and develop and our schools recognise the importance of supporting them through it. Often, schools will have counsellors and specially trained professionals working alongside them to provide the best possible support to their students.
In addition to having support from the adults they interact with onsite, students in a Quaker school are encouraged to look after one another. The calm and caring environment created in any of our schools makes sure that students are open and honest and can support each other.
This is the first school where I have been listened to and staff try to understand me.Jane
Find a Friends’ school near you
Each school offers something different for their students. Visit their websites to see what life is like for their students.