What is the point in coming to school? What is in it for children?
It is easy to overlook these key questions when we are ‘educating’. It is all too easy to become seduced into believing that because children are scoring well in national tests they are becoming lifelong learners in the process. It ain’t necessarily so!
At St Stephen’s we strive to provide a learning environment that will contribute to children’s real lives both as they live them and as a preparation for their futures. It is not good enough merely to deliver a curriculum. Children deserve more that that: rather we see our role as supporting the development of learners.
As Christian Schiller wrote: ‘A child is not an empty vessel to be filled, but a flame to be kindled’.
Children are already wonderful learners before they come to school. Learning is what humans do best, and children do it best of all. What we have to do is to nurture these inherent learning attitudes within a context of basic skills and knowledge to create young people ready for the learning age.
We cannot know what our children will need to know; we can only partially understand the worlds they currently inhabit, but we can focus our professional energies on enabling the individual child to become as powerful a learner as possible.
That is why it is essential that learning should be enjoyable! We are playful creatures, and if learning is so important it must never be glum! We want to give our children memories that are golden as well as useful. The successful people of the future will be those who are resilient in the face of challenge, resourceful and full of strategies when uncertain, and who are reflective learners, well aware of themselves and their own strengths and capabilities. Indeed this is already the case.
Conventional testing can provide only a partial measurement; nevertheless we regard progression, as measured by conventional testing, as an important indicator of our wider purpose as well as of great value in itself. We want our children to develop the capacity and desire to learn in any context.
Many years ago I asked a child what he thought our school was about. He said: ‘Our school is a place where you go to find out more about yourself so that you will want to go on learning forever’. I have never been able to put what I really mean better than that.
Please support us by entering into partnership with us. Celebrate your child’s achievement. It will be a journey of emotions, plenty of laughter and maybe even some tears. It is a family affair and we all play a part in that learning family.
St Stephen’s Church of England Primary School is a large Voluntary Aided School, and part of the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Our foundation link is with St Stephen's church, Lansdown.
Our school was founded in the 1840s by the local Anglican church for ‘the poor and manufacturing classes of Beacon Hill’. Today, it continues to be an integral and living part of the St Stephen’s Church community, and a place of learning and creativity at the heart of the Lansdown community.
Our values as a school are rooted in the Christian faith and the traditions of the Church of England. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive school and are proud to represent our local community in full, celebrating all our children and their wonderful promise. To help us celebrate diversity in a community that is not particularly diverse within itself we lean upon our HEART project. This has been a cross-curricular focus for our school for several years now and is an acronym standing for Helping Everyone Accept and Respect Together. We believe that this is a core element in our educational mission and one we hold dear.
The school foundation is governed by a trust deed, and this trust is governed by the trustees who are the vicar and churchwardens of St Stephen’s Church. The ownership of the school buildings and grounds are vested in the trustees, who together have a legal responsibility to ensure that the school buildings and grounds are used for the purposes set out by the trust deed; and that the school operates and develops within the terms and spirit of the trust deed.
It is our aim to sum up what St Stephen’s is all about in our Vision Statement:
‘St Stephen's is a unique community inspired by Christian values, promoting mutual respect, responsible behaviour, and encouraging creativity and a joy in learning.’