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Did you know such a school existed? Brockwood Park is a small co-educational boarding school set in 36 acres of countryside in deepest Hampshire and is one of a handful of schools founded by the humanist philosopher and educationalist, Jiddu Krishnamurti. In founding Brockwood, Krishnamurti expressively wanted to create a new generation of individuals who were free from 'self-centred action'.
The main school, housed in a classically styled, lime-washed mansion with uninterrupted views of rolling fields and woodland, educates approximately 70 students aged from 14-19 years. A large and dedicated staff drawn from all parts of the world and including many specialist academics, artists and musicians provides both a learning environment and also critically, an extended family.
With small teaching groups and a teacher pupil ratio of 1:7, Brockwood's approach is to encourage pupils to discover their own aptitudes and potential in an atmosphere without constraint or narrow rules. The guiding philosophy is to allow a high degree of self determination, both in intellectual and moral development. Academic excellence is absolutely necessary, but equal importance is given to an ongoing enquiry into the way we live our daily lives. We offer a wide range of AS & A levels and use the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) syllabi. Examinations are offered in the May/June session.
Brockwood Park's Development & Co-ordination Director, Bill Taylor explains: 'We want the students to understand that freedom is not simply about doing exactly what you want to do with the capacity to understand, and go beyond, the various international conflicts and problems that we are faced with. This requires a readiness on the part of both student and educator to be self-reflective and to be disposed towards asking questions and challenging one another. When this is done within a friendly and secure environment, then excellent relationships are formed and the student begins to understand the link between being free and being responsible.'
While fostering excellence in all subject areas, a natural corollary of Krishnamurti's preoccupation with the aesthetics of human relationships and their bearing upon the natural environment is a powerful artistic tradition, one that is immediately apparent in almost every sphere of school life. Painting, pottery, music and dance are strong and an aura of creative excitement permeates every corridor and classroom.
The pupil intake is truly international and over a vegetarian lunch in the school's dining room, conversation ranges far and wide, both in subject matter and, crucially, perspective. Many agree that most visitors to the school first notice the warmth and openness - a willingness to listen - and also the environment which is not only beautiful but peaceful. Some come to Brockwood with a clear idea of what they want to do but equally for many, the discovery happens at the school. Either way, Brockwood will encourage this discovery and allow it to flourish, but it is for the individual to discover and once this is realised, then there is a sense of liberation, and this is at the heart of what Brockwood stands for: 'self-discovery'.
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