Welcome to St John’s School, Sidmouth, Devon’s small independent school with a big heart, and perhaps a little too much of “a best kept secret”! With stunning vistas of the Jurassic coastline, 15 minutes’ walk from the sea front, surrounded by magnificent houses, gardens and moorland, we are truly in a privileged location and count our blessings every day. While the location is stunning, it is the students, families and staff of this remarkable school which make the difference, create an unrivalled atmosphere, and promote an extension of family life. The children recognise St John’s as their second home, their classmates as extended family and at the same time can reach out to their many classmates in sister schools from Spain to South Africa, Central Europe to Central America, creating a unique educational experience.
Webpages can be overwhelming, and largely quote the same educational jargon, aims and aspirations; so may I say, please follow what we actually achieve on social media on a daily basis, observe the smiles of our happy children, and visit us when you can (we offer weekend visits for everyone’s safety in these uncertain times.) Until then, we hope you can find the information you need on these pages, but please contact us for any question you may have.
Head of School
Current school situation, January 2021
St John’s is currently open to the children of Critical workers, as well as those deemed to benefit from being in school, despite Restricted Movement. In fact, we have not closed at any time, including half-terms and Easter 2020, and even maintained our successful summer camp over the entire holiday period. We have the greatest admiration for front-line Critical Workers and have tried at all times to support their families during such traumatic and challenging times, hence the extended opening.
Like all schools, we have made every attempt to keep our staff and community as safe as possible during the Pandemic, but at the same time insist on emphasising student wellbeing and holistic education, trying to maintain as much normality as possible. Arrivals and departures are staggered, students use their own entrances, exits and general one way system, there are multiple hand sanitisation points, and they are taught and enjoy break times, PE and swimming in their Key Stage bubbles. All staff and Secondary students have agreed to be Covid 19 –tested on a weekly basis for general reassurance, while our imposing Victorian building offers great ventilation! As a school, our greatest advantage is our site and location, with spacious grounds and even woodland for children to don wellingtons and coats and learn outside – which is the highlight of the day for them. Hence the pragmatic approach alluded to, blending recreation, ecology, wellbeing in a natural environment, within their normal friendship groups. Tree climbing is an essential part of our day, as is story time in the woods along with escaping the “Gruffalo”. On a good day, we share our woods with foxes, a tawny owl and a very sociable deer, just to add to the magic. In addition to our natural environment, we are blessed by the most magnificent sunrises to the east as we overlook Sidmouth town and the Jurassic Coastline – and given our normal sea “breezes”, healthy ventilation is certainly not an issue. Given such advantages, we really feel that we can let “children be children”, retain some level of normality and provide them with a happy outdoor, childhood which is perhaps difficult for many to replicate at weekends during the current travel restrictions.
We have managed to maintain our school bus transport with our own drivers, can still provide nutritious hot lunches and snacks, and provide an extra-curricular programme including sport, swimming and indoor activities. We feel that we have prepared well, understand all the potential risks, and by careful and detailed risk assessments, we have been able to look for solutions rather than be limited by perceived problems. With small class sizes, we have also been able to maintain distancing during restrictions as well as return to classes, much to our families’ gratitude. Should you have any further questions or concerns about our compliance procedures or educational provision during these challenging times, please contact your respective class teacher, or by all means contact me on 01395 513984. We are always here for you, and are very good listeners.
Graham Hurrell | Head of School
“St John’s Remote Learning Provision” during Partial closing can be found in the Webpage “News” section.