A NEW school using teaching methods described as among the world’s most innovative by Microsoft, Stanford University and UNESCO opened near Trowbridge in September following Ofsted approval.

Offering provision for more than 20 children aged 5-11, Lumiar Stowford School in Wingfield also plans to open its doors to reception aged children from January 2020.

The independent school on Stowford Manor Farm, just off the A366 at Wingfield near Trowbridge, is the first Lumiar school in the country which focuses on project-based learning and student participation.

The teaching methods are unique and originated in São Paulo in Brazil, where there are now nine Lumiar schools. Although children learn core skills such as numeracy and literacy, the focus is on putting these skills into practice through projects, workshops, and independent research.

Much of the curriculum takes place in and around the farm, encouraging pupils to be physically active outdoors and to appreciate and connect with nature.

Dr Fran Wilby, Head of International Development and Support at Lumiar, said: “Mainstream education is failing to address what young people need to adapt to and thrive in our fast-changing world.

“We support students to develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration, and encourage them to cultivate their own unique skills and passions.

“At Lumiar we offer a learning environment that is personalised to each student’s needs, fundamentally rethinking the design of education from the ground up.”

Each multi-aged class is managed by a PGCE-certified tutor who is responsible for overseeing the academic development and pastoral care of each child, while ‘Masters’ teach specialist skills through projects and workshops.

Rather than focusing on testing, tutors instead undertake detailed and ongoing assessment of each individual. Students work with the tutors to evaluate their own progress, while an online platform called the ‘Digital Mosaic’ tracks the individual progress of each child.

The School has been working with a Master from Schumacher College at Dartington Hall in Devon, well-known and respected for offering ecology-centred postgraduate programmes. The curriculum integrates sustainability-themed workshops, projects and activities.

Claire Walker, Head of Education at Lumiar Stowford School, said: “Sustainability and nature are core to our culture. Like Greta Thunberg, our pupils realise that no-one is too small to make a difference.”

As part of a recent project, Stanley Saxton (aged 8), Noah Jeremiah (aged 9) and Yolanda Thompson (aged 7), together with their classmates, composed and recorded a climate rap video, which is now on YouTube.

So far, the school - which opened in mid-September - has taken on 22 pupils and has the capacity to take up to 30. It has three Tutors and two part-time Masters.

Katherine Greenhalf, a Lumiar Stowford School parent, said: “My son and daughter are thriving at Lumiar. They love the innovative lessons, the caring staff, the chance to learn and grow in a happy and safe environment.”

“My seven-year-old son said he wishes he could go every day, even weekends and holidays and his recommendation is: ‘all kids should try it-they’ll love it!’”