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Education for the Handcross Park: 21st century by Ruth Lawrence F 38


What do 21st century children need? Handcross Park School believes that a balance between traditional values and modern schooling will give its pupils a head start in life.


inding the right school is one of the most crucial decisions in a person’s life and one that is inevitably made for them. Imagine, then, that you could look back from middle age with not only fond memories of your early education, but a


solid grounding which had placed your life on the right track and made your progress in the world rewarding, fruitful and enjoyable. Handcross Park School has an ambitious mission statement, yet after talking with visionary headmaster Graeme Owton, his total commitment and sheer love of the school left me in no doubt that they are well on their way to achieving their aims.


The building, a grand 1930s country house, could not be more welcoming.


SUSSEX LIVING October 2011


The front door opens onto a spacious, panelled hall complete with a vast stone fi replace, lit during winter to give an unforgettable, homely atmosphere. The ethos of a ‘home from home’ is central to the school. Although most children in its 2-13 year age range are day pupils, many are weekly boarders and some remain full-time. Flexibility is a key benefi t here: working parents can leave children after school hours, if necessary, and they can join boarders on an occasional basis, should they choose. With facilities that would rival a small town, children can enjoy 50 rolling acres of safe private grounds or play football, rugby, hockey, cricket, tennis, golf or swim. Childhood confi dence is built with a delicate balance of being out in the world and remaining safe and nurtured.


The scale of the school provides a feeling of freedom and space to grow, while 10 themes provide the solidity for a child’s internal support. The themes include the physical – sport and, more importantly, sportsmanship and outdoor education – and encompass arts, performance and academic innovation leading on to qualities that will have far-reaching effects for the child’s whole being as he or she joins the adult world. Community service and citizenship are taught by encouraging older children to mentor and support younger pupils. Graeme, himself a father of two, pointed out that 80% of that which children learn, they discover from each other. He believes that peer teaching is vitally important, fostering a sense of trust, confi dence and life skills. Spiritual life


www.sussexliving.com


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