The Young People's Community is based at an ancient woodland in the beautiful countryside of East Sussex. A community of young people between the ages of 12 and 16 study, work and live together during the school term. Through actual experience they learn what it means to collaborate with each other and to live in a sustainable relationship with the earth.
There are three pillars to the students’ experience:
- Community living
The school offers a strong academic programme with the emphasis on helping students to be independent thinkers and take ownership of their own learning. The young people are given the time, space and resources to pursue study to a high level.
Students are well prepared for GCSE qualifications, often progressing early to post-16 curricular content. They go beyond what is typically expected of adolescents. Visitors often comment that the academic atmosphere is more recognisable as belonging to a University than to a school. We benefit from the proximity to the University of Sussex and access to teaching staff there.
The environments are equipped to a high standard particularly in the sciences where we have access to a “living laboratory” of a walled garden and woodland. We have an exceptionally skilled and committed staff team with life experience as well as teaching experience.
The young people run a business that sells a variety of products and services. They grow and sell produce from our 1 acre walled garden (Soil Association certified organic) as well as retail grocery items from Infinity Foods.
The young people participate in the day to day operations of the school as it is their school. We do not employ cleaners, housekeepers, chefs, or ground staff. Instead the young people work alongside trained adults to manage the woodland and associated habitats to promote biodiversity, maintain and renovate the buildings, and run a commercial kitchen cooking meals for 70 people at a time.
The young people are involved in decisions relating to most aspects of their daily life including budget management. Each week the community meets to discuss the events of the week gone by and the week ahead, and other matters related to community life.
Amidst the work and study, the adolescents also have time to just be. They have a deep need for silence and solitude as well as the company of others, and both these are possible on the land, where clocks run at a slower pace. The world seems to slow down, and the quiet voices within them get a chance to be heard.