The Family School

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The Family School at Larkhall
London, United Kingdom
Established 2007
Founder Polly Griffiths
Gender Mixed
Age range 4-11

The Family School at Larkhall is a small, alternative school, based in South London, UK, founded by Polly Griffiths in 2007/8 to offer a Democratic education model to primary age children. The Family School is firmly in the Free Schools tradition, with no set curriculum, working on the basis that children are natural learners, and that it is the school's job to provide a rich environment as a context and medium for that learning. The school aims to support children as they develop towards becoming confident, competent and caring adults. The founding documents of the school set out five principles, on the basis of which the school operates. These are:

  • Support the Developing Child
  • Learning is part of Living
  • Family involvement is Fundamental
  • Ethical Consciousness and Action
  • Self Governance

The school is a charity, "reluctantly fee-paying", to quote its literature.


Polly Griffiths and Dil Green, the founders of the school, worked to develop their ideas over two years with two other families and with Colin Hill, a teacher who had worked at Community and Voluntary Education in South London. The Family School as it now exists was founded in September 2008. For the first two years of its operation, families were officially home educators, as the school was not registered with Ofsted. After registering the school as an Independent School with DfE in September 2010, the school was inspected for the first time by Ofsted in June 2012 and was judged "Good" with "Outstanding" aspects. Unfortunately, the small numbers of pupils attending made the school's financial viability increasingly difficult and therefore the school is currently temporarily closed pending re-opening on its new larger site in West Norwood.


The school is currently in premises in Brixton, but the Trustees have acquired a site in West Norwood which will provide its long-term home. The building is being designed by architect Dil Green, who is a founder of the school.


The school has no set curriculum, and offers few formal lessons. Each pupil's journey through the school constitutes the curriculum they will follow. However, the school considers that certain skills and abilities are vitally important to enable full participation in society, and these are carefully and consistently incorporated into the school environment.


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Coordinates: 51°27′08″N 0°07′12″W / 51.4522°N 0.1199°W / 51.4522; -0.1199