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About Quakers

Each of the Quaker Schools is different, but they all share a common approach to education based on Quaker beliefs. All members of the schools' communities are equally valued, resulting in open, friendly and courteous relationships between pupils and staff. Although the majority of pupils and staff are not Quakers, the whole school community meets together in a morning assembly or 'Morning Meeting'. This is a time when all staff and pupils of whatever faith share a period of quiet reflection - a rare opportunity in today's world.

But how will your child benefit?

By being encouraged to work hard and make the most of opportunities both inside and outside the classroom

By learning in an atmosphere of friendliness and openness where relationships are based on trust and the expectation of sensible, thoughtful behaviour

By having the opportunity to develop academically, but also personally, socially and spiritually.

So what's different?

A shrewd parent visiting a Quaker School once asked the Head: "We've had a marvellous tour of your school; we've seen buildings, grounds and facilities and purposeful youngsters enjoying their work; we are entirely satisfied with your exam results and the quality of care you give to your pupils.... but what makes a Quaker School different from any other first rate independent school and why should I send my child to one?"

A shared heritage - unique ethos

These pages attempt to answer that question a little more fully. They aim to show those elements - some less tangible than others - which all the Quaker Schools in the UK and Ireland have in common and which make them that little bit different from other good schools. The prospectus of each school will proudly tell you of the features which make it special and unique. No school is quite like any other. The Quaker Schools are no exception, but the strands of a common heritage run through the fabric of each one and have left a structure of values that we hope will leave their mark on all the young people in our care.

These values flow from one simple core belief: that religion should start from personal experience, not from dogma or ceremony. As all individuals have "that of God" within them, everyone has strong potential for good and is worthy of dignity and respect. From this in turn comes much of what is now valued in our schools: an expectation of the highest standards of individual excellence; the quest for truth (many Quakers have become distinguished in scientific and academic life as well as in business); the toleration that refuses to see the truth as confined to one creed or dogma; an openness to inspiration from whatever source it comes; an insistence on the equal rights of all people.

Core beliefs

These values flow from one simple core belief: that religion should start from personal experience, not from dogma or ceremony. As all individuals have "that of God" within them, everyone has strong potential for good and is worthy of dignity and respect. From this in turn comes much of what is now valued in our schools: an expectation of the highest standards of individual excellence; the quest for truth (many Quakers have become distinguished in scientific and academic life as well as in business); the toleration that refuses to see the truth as confined to one creed or dogma; an openness to inspiration from whatever source it comes; an insistence on the equal rights of all people.

Daily life

How do these values come out in the everyday life of a Quaker School? This question is all the more interesting because of the relatively small numbers (below 15%) of Quakers in the Schools, though many of our parents and staff espouse Quaker values. Essentially, Quakerism is a practical form of Christianity placing most emphasis on the manner in which people lead their lives and treat each other. Because of the sense of genuine enquiry, and the freedom from dogma, young people of all religious beliefs or none can feel comfortable and united during the silence of a Quaker Meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for all to reflect quietly and gain a fresh perspective on daily life.

Friendly Openness

When you visit a Quaker School you will he struck by an atmosphere of friendly welcome and a natural openness and informality amongst the pupils. Discipline is firm, but not based on regimentation or the fear of punishment. It comes rather from trust and the expectation of hard work and sensible behaviour that leads to self-discipline.

Such expectations in turn can only be realistic in a community which emphasises mutual respect, encouragement and participation. A child who is busily occupied is likely to be a happy child. A happy child has little cause to misbehave.

A busy day

Such participation can only be achieved when there is a wide range of activities to interest everyone. In all of our Schools there is an academic rigour that stretches the very able and keeps those of more modest ability at the peak of their potential. Beyond the curriculum, however, for day pupils as well as boarders, there are programmes of out-of-class pursuits which must rank amongst the most richly varied of any group of independent schools. This is part of our objective to provide a broad based education that goes beyond the merely scholastic and develops the whole person.

Joining together

Art, drama, music and sport all have firm places in our Musicschools, and everyone takes part for enjoyment as well as for the competition. Membership of the group of Quaker schools has great practical benefits too, as it allows our choirs and musicians to join together regularly to perform important choral works which cannot be tackled alone. Other joint activities such as athletics meetings, expeditions, conferences for pupils as well as staff. These are typical of the cooperation that gives our young people even more opportunity of broadening their experience.

Wider horizons

Our pupils are also encouraged to be outward looking and adventurous. The strong Quaker concerns of internationalism, of active participation in global as well as local issues, lead Duke of Edinburghwithin the Schools to involvement with the community outside, environmental projects, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, trips and expeditions abroad and money- raising for charity. Participation on this scale stimulates initiative as well as a healthy concern for the needs of others.

A School is only as good as its staff, and the level of commitment demanded of a teacher in a Quaker School ensures that "nine-to-fivers" do not apply! Turnover of staff is generally low, although the demands on their time for activities, tutorial care, careers guidance, individual help, are unusually high. Without their dedication and energy the schools would be immeasurably less enriching places in which to grow.

A way of living

In summary we can say that the Quaker emphasis in education lies in participation and caring, which are natural offshoots of the Quaker concern for peaceful cooperation. We work to prevent any bullying in our schools and to develop young people who will reject conflict in favour of cooperation. We do not try to impose the aims of the school on our pupils, but to lead them to accept these principles for themselves, encouraging them to share in the responsibility of running the school and the pleasure of its success.

Scholarships and Bursaries

No child who would benefit from the education that Quaker Schools provide should be discouraged from applying solely on the grounds of financial need. Contact individual schools for details of bursaries and scholarships.