Learning Space for 11 to 14 year olds

A wonderful space where children love to learn

Welcome to our class for older children

Children can attend 1, 2 or 3 days a week, following their interests and needs.

Mindful  -  Soulful - Democratic

Yoga & Meditation 

We weave yoga and meditation practices into our daily programme to enhance children's capacity for learning, self-regulation and reflection. Children tell us they feel calmer, more focused and ready to learn. 

Creativity

We present the children with a uniquely creative approach to learning, which offers guidance while supporting and developing student autonomy. The topics interconnect science, humanities and arts through the natural world in a fun, experiential and imaginative way.

Self-direction

We take a Socratic approach which is led by the students’ curiosity and questioning. Students choose what they want to study individually or as a group. Together we decide our topic at the democratic meeting, ensuring everyone's voice is heard. Research homework and written assignments are optional.

Topic-based learning

We have a termly topic that is chosen by the students and the teachers in our democratic meeting. It interconnects science, humanities and arts to offer an integrated holistic approach to study that treats the world as one interconnected whole. It allows students to think freely, make creative connections with their learning and see the big picture.

Stand alone subjects

In English literature we study novels, poems or plays chosen by the students which may connect to the topic. However, not all subjects fit easily into this approach. Languages need to be taught separately as does maths. Creative writing is free for the children to explore whatever they want. All the studies are designed to be excellent preparation for GCSE too. 

Democratic meetings

Our weekly democratic meeting gives children a platform to input into the co-operative running of the group. Through these meetings, they learn to listen to others, form their own opinions, understand others’ points of view and make decisions. 

Self-directed learning

Every other Thursday the children have a self-directed learning session where they decide what they want to learn as a group or individually. It allows them to follow their passions or do something that is stirring their curiosity on a particular day. They plan, document and reflect on what they do to value their independent learning.

Mondays

9:30 – 10:15am  Yoga, Meditation & Short Democratic Meeting. 
10:15 – 11:30am  Topic based study with a History focus. 
11:30 – 11:45am  Break
11:45 – 1:00pm  Spanish Language & Culture.
1:00 – 2:00pm  Lunch
2:00 – 3:15pm  Decided by the students

3:15 – 3:30pm  Reflection and Tidy up.

Thursdays

9:30 – 10:15am  Yoga & Meditation.
10:15 – 11:45am  Topic based Science.
11:45 – 12pm  Break
12 – 12:45pm Democratic Meeting
12:45 – 1:45pm  Lunch
1:45 – 3:15pm  Humanities or Creative Arts

3:15 – 3:30pm  Reflection and Tidy up.

Fridays

9:30 – 10:15am  Yoga, Meditation & Short Democratic Meeting. 
10:15 – 11:30am  Maths/Creative Writing
11:30 – 11:45am  Break
11:45 – 1:00pm  Creative Writing/Maths
1:00 – 2:00pm  Lunch
2:00 – 3:15pm  Literature

3:15 – 3:30pm  Reflection and Tidy up.

Our School Hours

- Mondays, Thursdays & Fridays

  • 9:30am to 3:30pm

For admissions information please click here.

An ordinary day in an extraordinary school

Tom (12) gets the train into Hebden with his friend Ellie (13) and together they walk up the hill to the Birchcliffe centre. The day often starts with yoga however this term as part of the Body topic they have each developed their own exercise routines. Ellie follows hers and is enjoying it, but Tom is getting bored of his workout and so joins in with what the teacher is doing. The class ends with a game of 'yogamat' ball which is game that the children have invented similar to netball.

There is a short meditation which Ellie really gets into today, whilst Tom is a bit fidgety. Afterwards its checking-in time and Tom shares that he's feeling tired today and finding it difficult to concentrate. Ellie shares that she’s excited about her birthday coming up in 5 day’s-time and her martial arts exam was a great success.

At 10:15 it's time for Science with Liva and Dale which today is looking at how cogs work together to spin a windmill round to create energy. Dale has brought a small motor and explains the principles upon which it works. The children then create their own mills and we take them down to the river to see if we can generate enough energy to light up a small bulb.

At 11.45 there is a break and the children have a snack and catch up with each other’s news and just hang out.

At 12pm it's time for the democratic meeting. The whole school comes together for the first part of the meeting and then later splits off into different groups. The meeting is chaired by one of the children. For many of the children, the meeting is at the heart of their school experience and is the element that they most value. Everyone is free to add to the agenda before the meeting and then the chair goes through each item, listening to different opinions. The chair begins by ringing the bell and inviting everyone to be with themselves.

Items are discussed, options proposed and then decisions are made by voting. Today we are discussing the Topic for next terms. Ideas include Medicine, Engineering and Astronomy. One of the children feels that they need more input from the educators to help them make an informed decision and so the educators agree to write a paragraph for each topic to help stimulate ideas for next week.

Then we have lunch. Ellie has brought something to warm up from home while Tom has a sandwich with an apple. Sugary food has been discouraged by the democratic meeting since we looked at sugar as a topic. The children listen to music upstairs in the mezzanine with the others. After a while Tom comes down to play dodge ball in the hall.

After lunch, they have creative writing followed by humanities. After hearing the meditation bell chime three times, the children imagine what they wish to write about. Tom really get into this. He loves being left alone to do what he wants and he does not have to hand the work in if he does not want to. He can explore his imagination and feelings without having to justify anything. Ellie is carrying on from a story she started a few weeks back. She might hand it in to the teacher to give her some feedback when the story is finished, but then again she might not.

The meditation bell chimes 3 times again and then they have humanities. Related to the topic of Energy that have been studying oil and modern history of the Middle East. Today they are looking at the first discovery of oil in the area in 1907 and how it sparked a huge interest on behalf of the colonial powers, resulting in Britain expanding its empire by 1,000,000 square miles by the end of the first world war. The children are intrigued and there is a lively discussion around how the desert nomads would have perceived oil rigs suddenly appearing on the landscape and the effects of that.

We then stop at 3.15 to give the children time to put their work away in their folders, tidy and clean up the school together. The school day ends at 3:30pm.

(descriptions based on real events but with children's identities kept private)

We are an Ofsted registered childcare provider