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Human Scale Education

About The Human Scale Education Movement

Human Scale Education was set up in 1985 by Satish Kumar, Philip Toogood, Colin Hodgetts and Maurice Ash with the aim of promoting small, human scale learning communities within the state maintained and independent sectors of education. It was founded on the principle that Human scale learning environments can foster positive relationships, enabling teachers to know their students well and make possible a more holistic approach to learning.
Human Scale Education also took inspiration from E.F. Schumacher’s book ‘Small is Beautiful’ which advocates small scale working units as a means to personal fulfilment, environmental sustainability and productivity. As Schumacher placed people at the heart of economics, so Human Scale Education placed children and young people at the centre of education.
Since its foundation HSE has worked towards a wider adoption of the principle of restructuring large schools into small learning communities or “SWAS” (Schools within a School). They are committed to providing the bedrock for innovations in pedagogy and curriculum that enable all learners to be active participants in their own learning, thereby recasting achievement in ways which are long overdue.

The Human Scale Education Movement and Stanley Park High

In 2006 Stanley Park High was given the One School Pathfinder for the London Borough of Sutton. This surprising news gave us the opportunity to design a new school for the future. The only condition was that we needed to be innovative. Doing the same was not an option.
In the Autumn Term of 2006 we researched and travelled to find examples of innovative practice. In the first instance this involved us looking at schools in this country. Through this we became aware of a school called Bishop’s Park in Clacton, a school under the leadership of Mike Davies. He led a school that had divided into three smaller communities: Lighthouses, Towers and Windmills. After visiting this school we became aware of Human Scale Education and their values and principles (See download section for further details). Whilst not wishing to adopt all of them, we liked what we saw and wanted to find out more.
Whilst we have found visiting schools in this country useful, many, with the exception of Bishops Park, were either at an early stage of developing their ideas or had short term/peripheral innovative learning programmes that were not seen as central to the curriculum. Consequently, we investigated innovative best practice abroad, drawing heavily on learning in four schools in Copenhagen, notably Hellerup, a school with which we are now twinned. We also looked at Human Scale Education in the USA. This resulted in visits to four schools and, including Boston Arts Academy in Boston and Urban Academy in Manhattan, New York.
Following these visits we designed our new school. It would be one that would have the importance of relationships as of fundamental importance.  It would develop these by:
  • Having three mainstream learning communities: Performance, Trade and World, each providing a foundation in Years 7 and 8, via the Excellent Futures Curriculum, and its own specialism in years 9-13. A fourth community, Horizon, would support students with a statement for Autism.
  • Smaller classes, thereby allowing each teacher to get to know fewer students really well.
  • Vertical Tutoring for students in Years 9-11.

For more details about Human Scale Education please look at their website HERE. You will find many references to Stanley Park High, particularly in the Hexagon section.


The Management of Change by D Taylor
School Structures Size Matters by Max Haimendorf and Jacob Kestner
History Values and Practice by Mary Tasker
New Learning Environments by Mike Davies
Learning Through Contrast by Mike Davies
Learning Design and HSE Education by Mike Davies
Relationships as a Springboard by James Wetz
Human Scale by Design by Mike Davies
Human Scale Thinking at the Heart of a Large School by Mark Wasserberg