The problem

The UK’s education system currently focuses on passing standardised tests and a narrow curriculum that doesn’t acknowledge the true potential of children. It doesn’t help children develop the skills they need for life, work, community and wellbeing. 

There are a number of concerns:

“We can only change the outcomes, when we change the rules of the system.”

Lucy Stephens
Founder, The New School

The solution

A blueprint of a successful alternate educational model for local authorities to scale with school partners.

The New School is a new type of school, an in-action research model for 4-16 year olds on a mission to positively change the way we educate our children in the UK. With small class sizes, multi-age grouping and their own outcomes framework, The New School sets out to model a more diverse, questioning style of education that aims for every voice to be heard.

The school measures four key outcomes crucial to equity in life chances: self-esteem, self-efficacy, educational engagement, life satisfaction as well as those metrics typical of a school, including attainment.

Set up in Croydon in 2020, the school has been created to develop young people’s agency; to enable the will and the ability to positively influence their own lives and the world around them. Its aim is to build learning skills crucial for future lives in a changing world.

Now in its third academic year, The New School has:

  • Independently evidenced (via the University of Nottingham) the positive educational value of The New School’s’ emotional and social learning approach and conducted a rigorous cost benefit analysis, which found for every £1 of cost, it generates £2.20 of social impact. 
  • Increased attendance rates. The latest figures show an overall attendance rate of 94% (some of their students had under 45% attendance at previous schools).
  • Reached previously hard-to-reach young people. Their students include 75% previously homeschooled. All scored in the lowest 20% regarding feelings about school due to previous experience, at the beginning of the year. 
  • 82% have progressed on the Boxall scales (describing how a child improves emotional security, makes constructive, adaptive relationships, is able to co-operate and self-regulate).

What’s the bold ambition?

To support more children across the UK to thrive, The New School will create a financial and educational blueprint for Local Authorities to scale the model with school partners.

They’ll codify this blueprint so that Local Authorities are better able to make school funding decisions based on social return on investment more broadly. 

The financial blueprint will enable educators to test out solutions to local problems as part of local learning ecosystems, creating a mechanism for collaborative development with local authority partners, private sector investment, public sector foundations and key stakeholders such as the electively home educated community and local parents. 

The Big Changer

Lucy Stephens, Founder and Director

Lucy leads The New School as Charity Director. 

With experience gained from a background in teaching, degrees in social psychology, nutritional therapy and herbal medicine, time spent working at the Prince’s Trust with marginalised young people, and having her own two children, it focused her attention on what an alternative democratic model of education could look like. 

‘I’ve created The New School to put research into practice, to challenge the current paradigm, and to address the many deeply entrenched problems in education and society.’