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Sat, 27 Apr


Online Zoom Workshop

Introduction to Setting up a Small School or Learning Community

This full-day workshop, led by Ros and Jen, will give participants a solid introduction to setting up a small school or learning community.

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Introduction to Setting up a Small School or Learning Community
Introduction to Setting up a Small School or Learning Community

Time & Location

27 Apr 2024, 09:30 – 15:30

Online Zoom Workshop

About the event

Announcement: We are now offering 10% discount on this workshop for Members of Human Scale Education (HSE). Become a member here: and contact us at to request your members discount code.

Why book this workshop?

This full-day online workshop, led by Rosalyn Spencer and Jen Nuin Smith, will give participants a solid introduction to setting up a small school or learning community based on human scale values. Participants will have the opportunity to explore what it takes to set up a small school or learning community and to reflect on which is the best pathway for them. By the end of the workshop, participants will be equipped with the information that they need to help them decide and move forward with their project.

What is included?

We start by exploring the human scale values of respect, democracy, social justice and sustainability and what these mean in practice.

Next, we give participants a unique insight into a diverse sample of small schools and learning communities spread across the UK. In 2022, Rosalyn completed a tour of 10 small schools and learning communities and met the founders of these settings. Based on her research, Rosalyn will take participants on a virtual tour which will give participants a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective on these settings including their ethos, legal structure and practical challenges.

After the break, we look in greater depth at two inspiring case studies, one small school and one learning community, and we facilitate learning from these experiences. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions throughout.

The afternoon session offers specialist breakout rooms for participants to explore small schools and learning communities, based around participants’ issues and questions. Finally, participants will be given the time to reflect on what they have learnt and we create a supported space for participants to develop their own plans and practical next steps to help make their vision a reality.

Is this workshop for me?

This introductory workshop is for you if any of the following are true:

  • You are interested in setting up a small school or learning community and want to find out more about what is involved.
  • You want to explore which small school or learning community pathway is best for you and your project.
  • You are looking for inspiration from settings and founders who have done similar things to what you want to achieve.
  • You dream of creating a human scale alternative to mainstream school and you want to take your first steps towards making this dream a reality.
  • You are a social learner and want to learn in a community of like-minded individuals who are all doing similar things together.
  • You want to work in a small group with facilitators who put relationships and human connection at the centre of what they do.

We are currently developing two follow up workshops which go into much greater depth, including more advanced financial and practical considerations, one for small schools and one for learning communities. These in depth workshops will be best suited for those who understand the differences between small schools and learning communities, who know which pathway they want to take and who need help to address many of the common practical challenges. The Introduction to Small Schools and Learning Communities is the ideal foundation for these follow on workshops.

About the facilitators

Rosalyn has an MA based on her research of seventeen small schools around England and Scotland in 1997; has written about small schools in various publications including Nursery World, Natural Parent, The Green Parent, HSE publication ’15 Small Schools’, and her book ‘Why I Started a Small School’ (about her own experience of setting up a human scale small school in the nineteen-nineties). In September 2022 Rosalyn completed another tour of small schools and learning communities including small schools that have survived the test of time such as Park School and Sands School – both in Devon; and newer learning communities such as Charlotte Church’s Awen Project in South Wales, Hove Micro School, and East Kent Sudbury. Rosalyn has been an active supporter and member of Human Scale Education for over thirty years, and has been a Trustee since 2014.

Jen is Founder and Democratic Educator at Little Forest, a small learning community in West Sussex. She is a qualified teacher who also has an MA in Transformative Leadership (Distinction) with a specialism in sustainability leadership. Jen is Trustee and Coordinator at Human Scale Education, a small charity which believes that education designed for human connection should be accessible to all. Jen has whole school leadership experience in mainstream primary schools; extensive leadership and management experience of working with local authorities and has recent relevant experience of how to set up a democratic and rights respecting learning community.

What are participants saying about this event?

“The input was really good – both prepared and in response to arising needs and interests. It was great to chat to like-minded people in the breakout room. The session was run very flexibly according to what the group wanted and everyone’s needs were met eg. explaining terminology.”

“Great to connect with like-minded people and hear about different models of existing schools.”

“Hearing the stories of Rosalyn and Jen in setting up their school/learning community. Learning about the different learning communities/schools in the UK. Learning about some of the practicalities of setting up a learning community/school. Connecting with the other like-minded people in the workshop.”

“The information delivered, the interactive and individual approach ,the small number of participants (were the most positive aspects).”

What is the investment?

Cost £140 - Max 16 places.

Early bird discount £120 for bookings before 10th March

*Members of Human Scale Education get a further 10% discount. Join HSE here: and Contact Us at to request your Membership discount code.

Limited funds are available to supplement a place for someone who would benefit from attending but is genuinely unable to afford the full amount. To discuss this option, or if you have any other queries about the workshop, please email

Timings for the day

The day starts at 09:30 and finishes at 15:30. We will take a 15 minute break in the morning and a 45 minute break for lunch at about 1pm.

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