Why does Hebden Bridge Learning Community charge fees?

Because we do not receive any state funding, donations, or grants. We make every effort to have affordable fees for the high quality service that we offer. Discretionary rates are available. Please contact us for further information.

Why is yoga a prominent part of the school day?

We define yoga widely as conscious movement, by which we mean any movement that unifies body, breathing, emotions and the mind through conscious awareness. This includes yoga exercises, tai qi, qi gong, dance, running, walking and many other possibilities: more an approach to activity than a restricted set of practices. Yoga helps to keep students physically and mentally fit, flexible of mind and body, and sensitive to their thoughts and feelings. It increases self-esteem and makes it easier to relate to others, thereby enhancing meaningful positive communication. Through relaxing the body and focusing the mind it helps create an optimum condition for learning.

Why is meditation a prominent part of the school day?

Meditation enables being at peace with oneself, which is a powerful basis for learning; clear and alert, it is possible to concentrate wholeheartedly. As they develop their practice, students are able to keep focus even when under pressure. Mental and emotional blocks are dissolved. Just five minutes’ reflection before beginning a piece of work, whether creative, analytical, or mathematical, can facilitate a task. Our meditation practice is pedagogic, rather than religious.

What do the children do on the days they’re not at school?

Lots of things! Home-education, forest school, farm school, sports, tutoring. There are loads of activities available locally for flexi-schooled children. For example:

GrowFree forest school farming

What does cross-subject learning mean and what does it involve?

Children are capable of making free associations, linking new and existing experiences to find out about their worlds. At secondary school, learning is typically split into unconnected channels (‘subjects’) that bear no relation to the other. Students want to engage by making connections not only between subjects but also between the theoretical and the practical. This is done through projects.

The cross-subject curriculum is planned by all teachers together, so that each teacher is aware of what the others are doing and a topic is taught as a whole. This way, teachers broaden and deepen their practice and engagement is spread all around the school. This collaborative approach to planning, teaching, assessing, and evaluating allows us to be holistic in the true sense of the word.

Are students able to study for GCSEs and which ones are available?

Our eldest group of children will be ready to start their GCSEs in September 2021. We plan to offer a variety of core GCSEs through a combination of three days of learning with us plus home study over a two year programme. This will be agreed together with the students and is dependant on there being enough students to enable us to run it. 

For more information, please check out our page on GCSEs here.

Is lesson attendance compulsory?

Yes. The children democratically decide what topic they will study each term and then participate in the classes. However, we all have our challenging moments. If a child doesn’t want to engage with a particular class, they are invited to learn something different so long as they don’t interrupt others’ learning.

My child is an ‘outdoors’ child. What opportunities will there be to learn outdoors?

The ‘outdoors’ is available in different forms:

  • Project-linked outdoor experiential learning in local woods and moors.
  • The wooded river valley which is part of the school grounds.
  • In break times there is a secure, flat area outside the Birchcliffe Centre where children can congregate and play.
  • The School Camp at the end of every year provides an intensive week of learning in nature.

What does school democracy mean in practice? 

A weekly school meeting consisting of all teachers and students will decide on all pastoral matters: for example, behaviour, rules in school time, and upkeep of the school environment. Decisions will be made by arriving at a consensus and, if that is not possible, through majority voting (e.g. one person, one vote).

We have to put faith in the processes that children will learn over the course of weekly meetings, which are an important opportunity for learning how to communicate: listening without interruption, accepting the value of both sides of an argument, and speaking with respect. Such a forum encourages free speech, develops the ability to express ones’ opinions in public, models respect for other points of view, provides experience of positive and negative group dynamics, and demonstrates decision-making. Students will be expected to do research to inform their proposals to the school meeting. New ideas can be trialled to test their consequences before they become school policy.

If students outvoted staff and decided something dangerous or ill-advised, what would the educators do?

Freedom comes with responsibility. Children are innately fair and the responsibility given to them helps them to develop their wisdom. The educators are there to offer advice to make sure that everyone is safe and well. Parents are also invited to participate in decision making when they are directly affected by a decision (e.g. changes in timetable, a new location, etc.).

What are the arrangements for staff cover, when the number of educators is so small and someone could fall sick at the last minute?

We have a stand-by list of educators who can step in at short notice as cover. The list is made up of collaborators who the children will already know. Everything will be done to make sure the children’s learning is not disrupted and that the skills and knowledge of the cover staff are consistent with the learning community’s values and high standards.