UK alternative schools

UK alternative schools

Dear Mookychick,

I live in a small Central European country. This wouldn’t be a problem if not for a few things. The country is always years behind in everything. Not only fashion and stuff like that, but in people’s mentality, too. Last summer people got attacked by far-right radiclas at the gay pride march, and this is just an example for things like this happening. I mean, I know there are stupid people everywhere, but this kind of mentality is really general here.

And then there’s my school. The people in my school are all conservative, stupid narrow-minded snobs. Some guys in my calss are skinheads and nazis(!!!). I’ve got friends but the whole enviroment really really gets me down. Plus, the school is really easy and I don’t feel like I’m learning anything at all. I’m not sure I made this sound as bad as it is but believe me, it is!

So what I really want is to find a school preferably in England which is kind of alternative. The problem is that I’ve no idea what I should look. I just want to be with people more like me. I love the idea of an art school, I love art but I’m also good at maths (I’m not trying to brag, just want you to get the idea). I’ve also been looking at free schools like Summerhill but I’m not sure about them. I don’t want to end up in a school where I won’t be learning anything because I want to be an architect or something. I also concidered going on an IB program, but they look really scary, and again, there are so many IB schools in the UK that I’m clueless about which one would I should choose. My parents are okay with this and would probably support me financially, and language is no problem (I attended a British school so I’m fluent English), I just have no idea what to look for.

Could you give me any ideas on what to search for or if you maybe know a few schools that could be good for me, I’d be so grateful! I know that other countries always seem better than the one you live in, but I’m planning to go to England for university anyway, so I’d end up there sooner or later. And being here is really making me crazy.

I also know there is no perfect school but this one is so wrong for me. Going there day after day is so terrible I can’t really describe it.

Please don’t think I’m too lazy to look for myself, I’m just soooo clueless.

Please help me, I’m so terrified of having to stay here!!!!

Love, Anonymous Me xxx

The Mookychick answer to your problem

Magda says…

If you’re looking for alternative schooling in the UK, this paragraph lifted straight out of Wikipedia should give you some good keywords to do some more research into what UK alternative schools might be right for you:

Independent, or private, schools have more flexibility in staff selection and educational approach. The most plentiful of these are Montessori schools, Waldorf schools (the latter are also called Steiner schools after their founder), and Friends schools. Other independent schools include democratic, or free schools such as Sands School, Summerhill School and Sudbury Valley School, Krishnamurti schools, open classroom schools, those based on experiential education, as well as schools which teach using international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate and Round Square schools. An increasing number of traditionally independent school forms now also exist within state-run, public education; this is especially true of the Waldorf and Montessori schools. The majority of independent schools offer at least partial scholarships.

As you can see, it lists Summerhill so the other choices might be worth checking out as well, as a comparison.

It’s great that your parents are behind you. I have a small understanding of what you’re going through on account of also having roots in a central European country. It doesn’t involve extreme right-wing mentality, but it was hard work explaining to my older family that yoga was merely a set of non-religious breathing exercises, not devil worship. With that much resistance to something like yoga, I can only imagine how rigid conservative areas might be against all issues of gender, sexual preference, race and general personal freedom.

An advice column isn’t going to be able to help you choose a school, but talking to people and doing more research with the help of your parents will.

As for fitting in, you’ll do fine. Wear what you like. Listen to who you like. For what it’s worth, Brighton is one of the most progressive, tolerant towns in England with a high LGBTQ population – it’s a really enjoyable place for many of the university and college students who live there. Might be worth seeing if any of your favoured alternative schools exist in Brighton, perhaps?

Lastly, even the most right-wing areas can have small groups of individuals fighting to make their world more how they want it. There might perhaps be organisations or art projects / communities in your area that you haven’t found yet? See what’s around. If you go to one small gig or art project, even if it’s further away (perhaps your parents can take you?) you’ll probably meet likeminded people. You’re not alone.