Park School has been established for over 20 years and is one of the longest running alternative schools in the UK for children aged 3 to 11. It provides a learning environment which addresses the social, emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual and creative needs of each child, helping them to realize their unique potential. The school welcomes children of all cultural backgrounds and beliefs and is set in spacious grounds on the historic Dartington Hall Estate in South Devon.
Relationships at Park are special. It is the quality of relationships within the school which most often strikes visitors and newcomers. The individuality of each child is valued and children learn to respect themselves and others and to become constructive members of the school community. Children are encouraged to be responsible for their own behaviour, to understand its effects, and to gain insight into themselves and others.
Small classes mean that there is time for personal attention as well as the space and freedom for individual expression.
Children are at the heart of the school. Park is built around the needs of its children. Therefore teaching is at the child’s own pace and structured in a way which helps them to reach high standards. Children have a voice in the school and options and choices are available from the start. A weekly school meeting provides a forum for all children and staff and helps to give children a voice in the school. Anybody can raise a matter for debate and both children and staff chair the meetings.
Teaching is often supported by outside experts, for example in music, the arts, environmental education, dance and drama. Parents also share their skills with children under the guidance of staff, offering contributions as varied as singing workshops and computer skills or reading with children.
Communication between parents, staff and children is very important. There is a fortnightly school newsletter and regular parent/teacher meetings are held, along with class meetings.
The annual Strawberry Fair is a popular event in the locality with parents and children working hard to make it a success. The combination of parents and teachers working together for the benefit of the children is a vital part of the strength of Park School – indeed this website was produced in this way!
As well as organising the usual social and fund raising events, parents actively participate in the life of the school. They also assist in the classroom with the teachers’ guidance. There is an elected Parent Chair and also parent class reps. Two elected parents also belong to the School’s Council of Management which has overall responsibility for Park.