School 21 – a state school that does things differently

School 21 is a pioneering state-funded school in East London for children aged 4-18 from all backgrounds. It was established ten years ago in the belief that education must be done differently if we are to prepare young people properly for success in the 21stcentury.  Its guiding principle is to rebalance head(academic success), heart (character and well-being) and hand (generating ideas, problem solving, making a difference).

Register free online to learn with and from Dr Nicola Mason (Headteacher), Henry Ward (Head of Science), and Dara, a year 9 student, in a discussion about their journey and experiences whilst working and learning in this innovative school.  

  • With its curriculum that explicitly values the “head, heart and hand”, a commitment to restorative justice, and a passion for beautiful work and project-based-learning, School 21 sets out to ‘empower young people to take on the world’.  
  • Set up in 2012, School 21 was widely heralded as an inspirational story of success – proof that it was possible to both provide a deep, rounded and holistic education as well as secure the qualifications necessary for success in the current system. 

But how are things progressing, as this school grows and develops – and what can we learn from their experiences?

Our panel guests will reflect on their experiences of working and learning in this self-proclaimed pioneering school as it navigates and negotiates its way within a system whose values don’t always align with their own.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to learn from the successes and challenges School 21 has faced, as together we reflect on the options available to schools wanting to provide a different brand of education. 

As usual the purpose of this Education Café® is to stimulate and generate discussion. Each panellist will give a 5-10 minute presentation to kick us off.  This will be followed by a chaired discussion (audience participation highly encouraged!) of between 45 minutes to an hour, leaving enough time for brief closing reflections from the panel. 

The Society intends that this energising event will be part of a longer conversation about designing an education system that better reflects the whole – both the whole person and the whole of society. We hope you will join us both for this event and as part of our growing community as we learn together.