History of the School
Heritage School opened its doors on the 5th of September 2007 to 16 pupils aged 4-7. The intention was to add a year group every year up to age 16. That goal was realised eight years later, from September 2015, when Heritage had a class in each year group from Reception (Lower Prep) to Year 11 for the first time, with approximately 180 pupils enrolled. We are now—and plan to remain—a one-form entry mainstream school, with a maximum capacity of 200 pupils.
The first seeds of the school were planted when co-founder Fiona Macaulay-Fletcher attended a unique prep school in Compton, Sussex in the 1970s. It was run by an eccentric Headmistress who had been trained as a PNEU (Parents National Education Union) teacher. Fiona’s parents were so impressed by the humanity and scope of the education their children were receiving, that they were eager to learn more about the PNEU and its founder Charlotte Mason (1842-1923).
This culminated in her mother, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, writing For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School (Crossway, 1984), which was intended to be an accessible introduction to Charlotte Mason’s vision for education. This book stimulated a resurgence of interest in her ideas, particularly in North America, which led in turn to various other publishing projects and participation in conferences. Child Light Limited, a registered UK charity, was formed in 1994 to assist this work; it is the charitable company which operates Heritage School.
In 2005 Elaine Cooper, editor of When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today (Crossway, 2004), suggested to Fiona that she should consider starting a school. The idea sown, Fiona and Jason began reading and thinking seriously about it. Both Fiona and Jason had completed PGCEs in secondary education at Cambridge University and had taught in the state sector, although Jason was then working in the charity sector. Given Fiona’s background, the natural starting point was to read Charlotte Mason’s works, particularly Home Education (1886), School Education (1904), and Towards a Philosophy of Education (1923).
In early 2006, they visited schools operating intentionally along Charlotte Mason lines and a small number of PNEU schools still operating in England. During the remainder of 2006 they developed a business plan, which they began circulating in January 2007, to see if there would be sufficient interest from prospective families, and to try and raise the necessary start-up funding.
In the eight months prior to September 2007, all the necessary pieces came together: a small number of committed families, start-up funding, a small staff team, premises, a unique curriculum, registration with the Department for Education, an initial Ofsted inspection, preparation of classrooms, purchasing resources, and so on, and Heritage School was able to get started.
Since then Heritage has grown steadily. We are grateful to our pioneering families and donors and to all the families who have chosen over the years to be part of Heritage School.