Rebuilding schools from bottom up

Posted on 08th December 2017

Many educationalists bemoan the increasingly centralised system in which the voices of those who teach, those who learn, and those whose children go to school have been marginalised. In a new book, Rebuilding Our Schools from the Bottom Up, Fiona Carnie outlines how schools can be strengthened by making themselves more democratic. This will, in turn, she says, “strengthen democracy through schools, thus contributing to the development of a democratic society”.

The book covers four main areas: the voices of teachers, students, parents and the school community.

Last year’s Head Girl Sam Harding joined forces with Clare Jarmy, Head of Academic Enrichment & Oxbridge and Head of Religious Studies & Philosophy, to provide one of the “inspiring examples from around the UK and overseas ….to encourage and support transformative change so that schools can meet the needs of the communities they serve.”

Having outlined the overall “head, hand, heart” ethos and that “Bedales has, from its inception, done things differently”, Sam and Clare describe the collective approach at Bedales and the emphasis on strong relationships between students and teachers. Two initiatives are highlighted:

  • The Bedales Student Teaching and Learning Group – consulted and raises issues relating to pedagogy and curriculum and is heavily involved in teacher recruitment.
  • Headmaster’s Question Time and Governors’ Question Time – any student has the right to ask uncensored questions. Students typically raise matters relating to the school ethos and hold those in charge to commitments made in regard to matters such as the environment, engagement with the community or raising funds for more bursary places.

The author concludes: “Young people often have a clear sense of what helps them to learn; teachers as professionals know how best to support their students, and parents have much to offer in terms of helping their own children and the school”.

More information and a preview can accessed via the publisher Routledge.  

The Bedales Difference | Rebuilding Our Schools from the Bottom Up | Clare Jarmy