Individual but together!
We are a group of three village schools in the heart of the picturesque South Downs, which:
are all caring, happy and inclusive, small schools (max 15 children per year group) where everyone knows everyone
all have stunning locations with lovely views, adjacent woods and fields for forest schools
share an exciting, engaging and inclusive curriculum, and an embedded Christian ethos - but retain their individual characters
have a single senior leadership team and board of governors, which gives them an unusual management depth and experience
benefit from three sets of teaching staff who share their ideas and resources to work together for the good of the children
Here's what some of our supervisors, parents and others say about us:
"Children feel safe and secure at school" [Ofsted 2021]
"Children who are new to the school settle very quickly. The ethos is strong and children are keen to welcome newcomers as friends" [Diocese report 2022]
With intakes of 15 (maximum!), most of whom have been for taster days, our reception teachers ease the children into school very quickly. Parent surveys consistently report that their children feel safe and happy.
"My children picked up friends and skills for life at this lovely little local school . . .”
We passionately believe that young children can only learn and develop their own potential if they enjoy coming into school and feel happy and safe there - and that this is much more likely in small, community-based schools where all the staff and children know each other and treat each other with respect.
“When his teacher left, they were able to appoint a TA from Rake who had just qualified. She already knew the setup and was already familiar to the children. [my child] thinks she’s wonderful, and is soaring . . . “
We also recognise that primary schools can be volatile and vulnerable as they go through cycles of low local birth rates, natural staff turnover and other, quite normal changes – especially in small schools, where minor variations in pupil numbers, or the retirement of one teacher, can cause significant turmoil.
“Pupils really enjoy their learning" [Ofsted 2021]
"Where else could you find a village school with lambs in the next-door field, a swimming pool or a forest of its own?”
We are a group of small, rural, village schools that share a common culture and vision, whose governors, staff and parents agreed to come together to give our pupils all the benefits of small, caring village schools in lovely South Downs settings, while creating a stronger, more stable group that can also offer them the advantages of larger schools.
“The quality of education has been improving rapidly since the appointment of the executive headteacher. Pupils are now achieving well. Staff, parents and carers told inspectors that the school is in a much happier place than it was previously” [Ofsted 2021]
Instead of our class teachers having to cope entirely on their own, they can share their class planning, ideas and concerns with two colleagues teaching the same year groups in their sister schools. Instead of one headteacher in lonely command, we have a senior leadership team of one executive headteacher and two deputies – each of them head of school on one site but also with specialist responsibilities across the federation – able to share the management role and support each other. Instead of small schools which cannot afford the best teaching resources, ours can share, taking it in turns to use the resources that they don’t need all the time, and coming together to afford better school trips or outside visitors. We can afford a full-time sports coach, a minibus and the latest cloud technology.
“To see them walking to church, each big one holding hands and chattering to a little one, is just a delight.”
Our schools have a maximum of 15 children per year group, so no more than 105 pupils altogether. Our reception classes have 15 little ones (or less) with a teacher and teaching assistant to help them to settle in and to create individual learning plans for each child. Then we have three classes which combine two year groups, with the older children encouraged to support and guide the younger ones – who will, in turn, learn to help the next group when they move up.
“They shared the minibus to pick up from each school and take the year 6s to the sports training at the local secondary academy”
“The STEM day they put on was fantastic: our little school could never have got the range of outside guests that made it so exciting – mine still talk about it two years later!”
Your children can enjoy the lovely settings and strong family feel of our schools, but still get the benefits of larger schools. They can make friends for life by getting to know other children from their own communities. But, through joint educational visits, shared events and activities, they can also get used to mixing in larger groups before they move on to big secondary schools.
"Governors know the school very well. They have a strong understanding of what the school does well and where it needs to develop further." [Ofsted]
By combining three separate boards of governors, we were able to form one single governing board with a formidable range of skills and experience, plus a local school committee at each school to retain the broader representation and to safeguard the individual strengths of the three schools.
Those that attend the main board meetings include four parents, the rectors of all three communities, five of the staff (including the three senior leaders) and five representatives of the local communities. They include members of national and local governor groups, groups that set policy for and oversee the local education authority, and members of our county, district and local parish councils, as well as other community groups.
The local school committees include further parents, staff and community representatives and share the main board’s dedication to a common mission: to prove that our group of schools, by working as one, can demonstrate the benefits of small village schools in giving our pupils the best possible start in life.