Longacre’s motto is, and always has been, “A happy heart goes all the way”. Growing up has its challenges, and the path to learning can have its ups and downs, but we want every one of our children to be skipping into school with the joy that comes from being confident with what they have achieved and excited about the new discoveries that lie in store.
Nor is it just our pupils who need to have this positivity and excitement: our staff, our parents and our visitors from the community should also feel this way every time they come to Longacre. Everyone is someone at Longacre, both children and adults. Everyone is accepted for who they are, celebrated for what they are good at, challenged and supported to grow in areas of weakness.
Longacre is an inter-denominational school. The school’s founder ran the school on Church of England principles and these can still be seen in the annual Carol Service, visits from the wonderful Sally, Vicar of Christ Church, Shamley Green and the School Prayer in every classroom. There are assemblies to highlight the significance of Lent and Advent.
Equally, children learn in assembly about Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah, Diwali and Hanukkah. Our Religious Education programme encompasses all the major faiths and seeks to teach children from religious and secular backgrounds alike the universal values of compassion, kindness, respect and doing their best to be their best.
While many schools run high-stakes (and high-stress) test days for admission, we believe that children of all academic levels can thrive, and that a child’s ability at the age of four or seven does not necessarily define their potential. Moreover, an exam at these ages does little to reveal anything apart from a child’s exposure to coaching.
Children make rapid and genuine progress when they are excited, when they learn through play, when they can see evidence of their development and when they are actively involved in the learning process. These all produce results far better than hours of coaching every Saturday morning.
At Longacre, we operate a ‘cab-rank rule’ whereby children are assessed individually and on their own merits. We allocate places in order of registration date until year groups are full. We have moved all of our budget for fee remission into means-tested bursaries, so our charitable funds are specifically used to broaden access to the School for those who really need it. We are very proud of the fact that means-tested remission has risen by over 40% in the last three years and we intend to build on this.
Measured in the crudest of terms, as IQ levels, children at Longacre range from being exceptionally able to below the national average. Because of our small classes and year groups, and moreover because of our ethos and values, we are able to nurture the talents of each child individually.
We don’t aim for everyone to get an A*, or for everyone to go to a particular destination school. Those targets lead to anxiety, disappointment and the squashing of children’s natural abilities. Instead, we believe in children achieving their personal best in as wide a range of activities as possible.