Issue 94 is out now
Melissa Corkhill

By Melissa Corkhill

04th October 2016

Get inspired with our round up of the best alternative schools, educational days out, resources for home educators and more

Melissa Corkhill

By Melissa Corkhill

04th October 2016

Melissa Corkhill

By Melissa Corkhill

04th October 2016


1 CENTRE FOR ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY With over seven acres of hands-on displays and gardens and with over 40 years of experience in sustainability practice, this eco venue inspires thousands of visitors every year. Based in mid Wales, the Centre overlooks the Snowdonia National Park, renowned for its stunning scenery and outdoor activities there’s plenty to engage families here.

2 THE EDEN PROJECT The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world. Nestled in a huge crater, biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity. There’s a year-round events programme at

3 THE WILDLIFE TRUST Set up for wild play at many of our nature reserves there are sand pits, mud kitchens, outdoor gyms and even hire-able nature packs to encourage families to explore, create and discover. Try your hand at pond-dipping, bug-hunting, birdwatching, hill-rolling, tree climbing, duck feeding, den building and wildlife-watching. Find local reserves at

4 NATIONAL TRUST There is no better way to let off steam than by climbing trees, running races or rolling down really big hills. Check out the 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾ challenges at The National Trust for plenty of ideas to get children (and adults) outdoors and closer to nature.

5 WOODLAND TRUST The UK’s leading woodland conservation charity encourages families to plan a woodland visit. There is something to discover in every wood. They are places of magic and mystery, fun and adventure. Find your nearest at

6 ENGLISH HERITAGE Step into England’s history at one of over 400 sites. Get closer to where history happened, discover a range of epic events and find your next adventure at

7 SEVEN STORIES At the National Centre for Children’s Books, you can find out how books are made, where they come from and how we can enjoy and share them. Based in Newcastle, it’s a great day out for the whole family.

8 ROALD DAHL MUSUEM Visit this great little awardwinning museum, situated in the Buckinghamshire village where Roald Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years. It’s aimed at 6 to 12 year olds, with a Story Centre that puts your imagination centre-stage with fantabulous activities to inspire the writer in you.

9 LIFE SCIENCE CENTRE The packed programme at this Newcastle based science centre includes activities for all ages from pre-school to adults.

10 CELTIC HARMONY CAMP At a reconstructed Iron Age settlement in Bourne Wood near Hertford, you can live as our ancestors did 2000 years ago. Step back in time and learn pottery, enjoy bushcraft workshops, master firelighting, and take part in tracking activities. Get a free Iron Age Lesson Plan and cartoon resources at


11 GREENWICH STEINER SCHOOL Located in leafy Greenwich, this school provides a dynamic and modern version of the Steiner Waldorf curriculum to provide an all-round education for children aged 3-14 years. One of the key concepts is that learning is not rushed. It is experienced, explored and savoured. Children learn all the subjects of the national curriculum in a way that engenders creativity, resilience and a life long love of learning.

12 CALDER STEINER SCHOOL This Steiner school in Hebden Bridge, West Yorks offers a secure, caring, homely environment where children can grow through play, rhythm and imitation. Their motto is Making Time for Childhood and the school is set is experienced, explored and savoured. Children learn all the subjects of the national curriculum in a way that engenders creativity, resilience and a life long love of learning. green in a beautiful wooded valley. Everything they do is embedded in rhythm because young children love rhythm and staff have watched how they thrive from a healthy rhythm of activity and rest.

13 MICHAEL HALL SCHOOL Founded in 1925, Michael Hall is an independent Steiner Waldorf school in Kidbrooke Park on the edge of Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. The oldest Steiner school in Britain, it has an enrolment of over 500 students aged between three and eighteen.

14 STEINER ACADEMY BRISTOL Opened in 2014 this academy offers an education that is creative, engaging and environmentally conscious. The vision is for a school in which children aged 4-16 can fully experience childhood; think independently, clearly and considerately; observe the world perceptively; and act with creativity, courage and self-determination.

15 IONA SCHOOL This primary school in Nottingham in the East Midlands offers Steiner Waldorf education, catering for children aged from three to eleven, with a nursery for younger children. Founded in 1985 by a group of teachers and parents their belief is that education should be a continuing process, and their responsibility as a school is to stimulate and develop the faculties and skills of children to embrace learning for life.


16 SANDS SCHOOL Sands in Devon is a democratic school: students and staff run the school and make decisions together in a spirit of equality and mutual respect. Watch a short video and find out more at

17 BROCKWOOD PARK SCHOOL An international co-educational boarding school in the southern English countryside for just over 70 students aged 14 to 19. The place is deeply inspired by J. Krishnamurti’s teachings, which encourage academic excellence, self-understanding, creativity and integrity in a safe, non-competitive environment.

18 BLOO HOUSE An innovative, independent school in Esher, Surrey, for 5 – 11 year olds. The school’s 8-aptitude curriculum is specifically designed to enable children to grow in all areas of development, academically, socially and emotionally. They value a child’s ability to think critically, over and above memorising data.

19 SUMMERHILL Founded in 1921, it continues to be an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world; Summerhill, in Leiston, Suffolk is the oldest children’s democracy in the world. It is probably the most famous alternative or ‘free’ school. The system that Summerhill employs is not only about education - it is also a different way of parenting which eliminates most of the friction and many of the problems experienced by modern families.

20 LEWES NEW SCHOOL The human-centred ethos puts the needs, interests and potential of each child right at the heart of school life. Founded by forward-thinking parents and educators in 2000, the school has grown in reputation and ambition to provide a real alternative to mainstream education. They trust children to learn and parents are welcomed as true partners in their child’s education, giving the school a homely feel that eases the transition between school and family life.


21 LITTLE GREEN RASCALS (pictured above) Whether they are in the forest, doing art, playing, cooking or looking after the animals, children at this organic nursery in York are treated like family.

22 NATURAL NURTURE Based in the heart of a 33 acre, family farm in West Sussex, this nursery is for children aged three upwards. Children get involved in growing their own seeds, cookery, husbandry, animal feeding, willow weaving, scarecrow building, nature and woodland walks and many more activities.

23 THE SECRET GARDEN OUTDOOR NURSERY Based in a 25 acre woodland north of Letham village in Fife, the nursery offers explorative fulltime outdoor play. Yurt and tarps offer shelter from weather; fires and much physical movement also maintain warmth.

24 INTO THE WOODS Based on the Forest School approach and set within Highgate Wood and nearby Queens Wood, Into The Woods is London’s first outdoor nursery. The children spend the whole day outside enjoying a unique experience and education. Starting in September there is a Forest School Club for home/ flexi schooled children aged 5–7 years.

25 ELVES AND FAIRIES WOODLAND NURSERY This outdoor nursery and forest school in Verwood, Dorset, is based on the philosophy that the closer to nature the children are the happier they will be and the more they will learn. Free to explore nature’s riches, a child’s senses are heightened, which enhances their creative and imaginative play. During sessions the children go for woodland walks and picnics, jump in puddles, chase butterflies and clamber over fallen branches, make sand castles, mud pies and imaginative potions, smell flowers, rain and damp leaves, listen to bird song, the cracking of ice and the wind in the trees. They grow vegetables and flowers, learn campfire skills and watch their food being cooked.

26 THE BODHI TREE NURSERY A small vegan Montessori child led haven in Kilburn, North London. Children are between 3 months and 5 years old and dance, yoga, art, numeracy and literacy are explored through play in various languages, including english, italian and french. It’s a warm, peaceful community nursery where parents are welcome at all times with an open door policy.

27 FORESTKINDERGARTEN This outdoor forest kindergarten based in National Trust woodland in Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks, Kent opened in January 2014 and has received an ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in all areas.

28 AUCHLONE NATURE KINDERGARTEN The first outdoor Nature Kindergarten in Scotland was opened by Mindstretchers in 2006 in Perthshire. Children from the age of two upwards spend the majority of the day outdoors in all weathers, either in the very naturalistic garden or in the woodlands where they build dens and bird hides using tools such as saws and loppers, make fires to cook their own snacks, climb trees and generally explore the wonders that the woodlands have to offer. mindstretchers.

29 DANDELION NURSERY Based in Erpingham, Norfolk, Dandelion Nursery uses both Forest School and Philosophy for Children (P4C) to holistically develop children’s understanding.

30 FOREST SCHOOL KINDERGARTEN These forest school sessions in Plas Derw Forest in Flintshire, Wales are designed to let children explore the natural world. Delivered by a qualified leader, the free flowing activities encourage the children to play freely. Hot drinks and story time are also an enjoyable part of the session. plasderwforestschool.


31 OXFORD MONTESSORI Montessori education for children aged 2 to 16, with a small family ‘feel’ that helps students to gradually develop into self-assured and capable young people who can fulfil their potential.

32 LEAVESDEN Based in Watford, Leavesden Montessori House is for children from the age of one to six years. The educational approach is child-led and food provided is organic and vegetarian.

33 THE GOWER SCHOOL Based in Islington in North London, this Montessori school offers a broad curriculum in multi-age classrooms for up to 11 year olds, aimed at the development of the whole person - mind, body, heart and soul- teaching academic and social skills, as well as life skills, to actually last a lifetime.

34 OAKFIELD For children aged 3-11, Oakfield Montessori, Upminster, Essex is set in seven acres of grounds with a dedicated art facility, music room, ICT suite, and heated indoor swimming pool. Each child’s individual needs are of key importance and they aim to offer a truly holistic approach to education.

35 EDINBURGH MONTESSORI ARTS SCHOOL This school gives children real time to develop and to enjoy childhood unrushed. The pupils, aged from one to twelve have time to watch, listen, build confidence and try new things. Learning is sequential and adapted to suit each individual.


36 FREE CHILD This informative site is packed with resources on a different educational model – one where the child is trusted to learn at his own pace and in his own way. Rich and valuable.

37 NATURAL CHILD PROJECT For plenty of inspirational advice on getting started and thriving in an unschooling environment check out Jan Hunt’s articles here.

38 EDUCATION OTHERWISE The original and still the best starting site for information on home education, including legal issues. Whether you want to find out about taking children out of school, or home educating your preschooler, everything you need to get started is here.

39 MUDDLE PUDDLE Although this site is in the middle of an overhaul there is still loads of great resources and ideas for curriculum here.

40 CREATIVE STEPS This vibrant magazine is packed with easy, fun projects and activities, an excellent source of inspiration for homeeducators.


41 WILDWISE Set in the wilds of Devon, Wildwise have been running camps for 13 years. Whether it’s a week-long family camp or weekends for fathers and sons or mothers and daughters, the courses are designed to encourage both adults and children to meet their learning edge, develop a deeper relationship with the natural world and spend quality family time together. The dangerous weekend for boys is a popular weekend event for fathers and sons (or uncles and nephews) to learn exciting, dangerous skills in bushcraft and survival. Spend the weekend learning how to make fires, find food, build shelters and have a good craic round the campfire. For mothers and daughters the wicked weekend for girls includes traditional crafting and hedgerow herb knowledge.

42 WOODCRAFT FOLK A movement for children and young people, open to everyone from birth to adult. The weekly meetings are a place where children will grow in confidence, learn about the world and start to understand how to value our planet and each other. Find your local group at and be prepared for a long waiting list!

43 HIDDEN WOODS An award-winning woodland activity centre, Hidden Woods is based in 80 acres of ancient woodland just a stone’s throw from Bath, Somerset. The purpose-built camp is the perfect place to connect with nature in a fun, adventurous and magical way. Think outdoor birthday parties, parent and toddler groups and innovative Forest School programmes for schools.

44 WOODLAND SKILLS CENTRE Based in 50 acres of woodland in Denbigh, Wales, the Woodland Skills Centre runs a range of courses in traditional crafts, bushcraft courses, family holidays and courses for youth and community groups.

45 ADVENTURE CENTRE Situated amongst the rolling farmland of the beautiful Isle of Man provides outdoor activity holidays and courses to schools, home education groups and families during the summer holidays.


46 ONE TO ONE Gareth Lewis This practical guide to learning at home is a really useful resource during the early years of home education – it covers projects across subjects up to the age of 11 – in a way, an alternative curriculum.

47 YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST TEACHER Rahima Baldwin Dancey Packed with insight and wisdom from mother of four, midwife and Steiner educator, this book deals with the developmental needs of children from birth to age six.

48 MONTESSORI PLAY AND LEARN Lesley Britton A colourful approach to getting started in Montessori education, this book describes games and activities that can be used as building blocks for discovering language, science, maths etc.

49 DUMBING US DOWN John Taylor Gatto This is probably one of the most insightful books about the education system - a must read.

50 HOW CHILDREN LEARN John Holt Another classic – this wonderful reassuring book explains the learning process and how children acquire knowledge. A must for home educators.