Why choose a small school?

Why Choose a Small School?

Here are some reasons why choosing a small school is a positive decision for both you and your child:

At Swainswick every child is an individual and not just a number, our small school operates like a community and not a corporation.

Every member of staff knows every single child at Swainswick – this is a real community, where we know a child’s age, their siblings and their parents. Equally each child knows the name of every other child in the school. We promote belonging and a real sense of unity.

Size DOES matter! In 1999, after inspecting every primary school in England, OFSTED reported on the comparative performance of small schools, (which it defined as those with fewer than 100 pupils). It found that small primary schools achieved markedly better test results.

Furthermore, OFSTED added,: “the quality of teaching in small schools is generally better than in larger schools”. Inspectors concluded that their “positive ethos” and “important place in the community” meant there was “a good case” for small schools.

In short, they tick all the boxes for your child’s experience at a Primary School.

Swainswick Children all get to experience using computers on a regular basis – the older children learn coding and use the iPads for research, the younger children use the schools iPads for making videos, news reports and creating different types of media.

At Swainswick the children each enjoy the opportunity to be part of the School Council – this important work gives every child a voice. The School Council have promoted and raised money for various charities, they also requested a new climbing frame, which the Friends raised money for, amongst other ideas.

Shared Year Groups…

Swainswick Children are taught in shared year group classes – here Miss Warne, teacher of Oak Class, currently made up of years 4,5 and 6, explains how it works:”Mixed age classes are a joy to teach and have many advantages. For a start, the younger children learn from the older ones and aspire to emulate them, while the older children develop greater independence, self-motivation, responsibility and leadership skills.”

Miss Warne goes on, “Moreover, spending more than one year in class means that the children are already settled and established after the first year and get off to a flying start in subsequent years. It is also now acknowledged that putting children into sets according to ability is ineffective as it limits expectations. It follows, therefore, that mixed age and mixed ability classes allow fluidity and open-ended development.”

Sam Carr, Lecturer In Education at the University of Bath & Father at Swainswick School, adds:

“Like many small rural schools, learning at Swainswick takes place in mixed-age classrooms. We believe that this aspect of our classrooms is a valuable part of our educational provision. In some of the most progressive education systems and schools across the world mixed-age classrooms are (according to educational research) increasingly viewed as “cutting-edge” educational practice that helps to foster a child-centered school culture. Some of the key advantages of such classrooms are that:

  • Longer time spent together means that children and teachers have more time to develop a close bond and children feel “known.”
  • Children are more likely to form friendships across age groups, facilitating a more inclusive school culture.
  • Children are more likely to learn how to co-operate, support, and care for each other.”


The children at Swainswick have real experiences…

For example, the nativity and church services are always held in an actual church, St Mary’s next to the school. The annual school play is always held at a beautiful local theatre; The Rondo in Larkhall and Forest School is held in a real forest, which is just a five minute walk away from the school. Every week the older children are taken to a state of the art swimming pool and taught to swim and each child is taught French from reception.

Every experience a child enjoys at Swainswick is real and tangible.

Swainswick is set in the beautiful Woolley Valley, this environment is an idyllic place to explore and learn during your childhood. The children spend a lot of time outside surrounded by nature. Find out more about our Forest School Fridays here.

Natural tools and few plastic play objects are used at Swainswick – there is real value put on natural implements, books and simplicity.


Ofsted  report on Swainswick:

“At Swainswick care, guidance and support are outstanding and as a result pupils feel extremely safe.”

“Pupils are polite and well behaved and readily adopt healthy lifestyles”.

“The exceptional care, guidance and support provided for pupils contribute very well both to their enjoyment and their learning.”

“The school provides a very caring, friendly environment, which encourages and enthuses the children to learn.”

“During their time in the Early Years Foundation Stage children achieve well, and standards are just above average by the time they leave Reception.”

“Pupils continue to make good progress throughout the school and by the end of Year 6 attainment is above average in English, Mathematics and Science.

Below are some quotes from children who have left Swainswick, they tell us about their own experience:

“I really enjoyed my time at Swainswick, because I always felt listened to and important. In a school of under 100 kids, it’s very special that you can get to know everyone in such a welcoming environment. My favourite memories of primary school are of walking along Innox lane in the summer, the Christmas services and The New Barn trip in year 5.”
Dylan, 16

“Swainswick is a beautiful school that encourages you to develop friendships with people of all ages. Some of my highlights include blackberry picking along the lane, morning yoga and Mrs Cripps teaching me to knit. I can’t think of any other school where you would be able to invite the whole of the juniors to your birthday party, or have over 60 welcoming smiles from people who genuinely care about your wellbeing.”
Kate, 14

“I will always remember Swainswick as being a very special time of my life.  I made some great friends. I love the teaching staff especially my teacher for years 5 and 6. It set me up so well for my life at secondary school with good aims and values, and sometimes when it gets a little stressful at school I do wish I’m back at the peaceful setting of Swainswick.”
Elen, 14

“Swainswick felt like an extension of my family. I got to try out lots of fun activities because the class sizes were so small.”
Leila, 12

” It’s unique. You feel at home and it has a real community feel.”
Theo, 16

“Swainswick really developed me as a person …I felt, and still do feel, part of a community.”
Joe Alder, 15

“Swainswick helped me – not just academically but emotionally. I feel like I’m more of a rounded person because I went there.”
Manny Campion-Dye, 14

“Swainswick was a great school and I made lots of friends over 7 years. It was amazing because of its lovely setting, teachers and kindness. It was so easy to fit in and it was the best place to learn to make friends.”
Joe, 11

“I think walking to Swainswick School is good, it keeps you fit and you can also walk with your friends.  If you are in a small school you are always really close with each other, so when you go to a big school you know what a friend is and how to help each other.”
Beinn, 11

“I loved Swainswick primary school. The teachers encouraged me to love  learning and to never stop asking questions. They knew me extremely well and gave each individual lots of their time.
Swainswick community made me feel safe – that I belonged and had a valued  part to play.”
Freya, 16 who just got 10A*s at GCSE