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How one school is taking learning outside of the classroom

Pupils learning outside the classroom at St Leonards

Big in ambition yet small enough for every pupil to be known by name, St Leonards offers an outstanding education for pupils aged five to 18 – one where learning outside the classroom is prioritised.

This independent school in St Andrews has an ethos of high academic achievement and its inspiring International Baccalaureate curriculum is complemented by a thriving programme of co-curricular activities.

The school, which offers day and boarding education for boys and girls aged 5-18, says that the wealth of curricular and co-curricular opportunities for learning outside the classroom “help pupils to develop the skills and interests needed to succeed in today’s ever-changing world”.

In recent times, with the challenges of the pandemic and online schooling, pupils were faced with a new style of learning – outside the classroom – something that has continued to be embraced in schools across Scotland. But, at St Leonards, beyond-the-classroom learning has always been part of the school programme.

Opportunities for learning outside the classroom

school sports team

“From one day to the next, pupils are on the beach in St Andrews, in the drama yurt, round the fire pit and at a desk,” explains the Head, Simon Brian.

He added: “They are performing in the Music School Auditorium, learning new languages with specialist teachers, exploring the Fife Coastal Path with the Running Club or discovering Judo with a former Olympian and diving into the swimming pool. Our approach to teaching and learning is both holistic and academically ambitious. Each pupil is known by name and the opportunities can be tailored to every child.”

And all these opportunities are available to pupils from Year 1, from the day they begin their journey as a St Leonards pupil.

As the pupils continue up through the school, the IB Primary Years Programme becomes the Middle Years Programme, which leads pupils into iGCSEs and onwards to the St Leonards Sixth Form.

Supported by an ambitious co-curriculum, the learning continues, as Dawn Pemberton-Hislop, Senior Deputy Head, explained: “The co-curriculum encompasses everything from aquathlon to a cappella, beekeeping, bushcraft, chess, debating, dance, drama, lacrosse, rugby and more. There is an emphasis on participation as well as excellence – pupils are encouraged to pursue their passions and try out new activities, too.”

Beyond the medieval walls of St Leonards

students in a classroom

It’s not just physically that the pupils of St Leonards are encouraged to go “beyond the school’s medieval walls” as they are motivated to adopt a global perspective, and to make a meaningful difference to the lives of others.

This type of educational experience of learning outside the classroom plus a global mindset, coupled with the school’s strong foundation in numeracy, literacy and soft skills, has opened many doors for pupils, many of whom have gained places at the UK’s top universities.

Simon Brian explained: “This ensures that year-upon-year the oldest pupils secure excellent public examination results which open doors to leading UK and international universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and St Andrews.”

The school’s location in the heart of St Andrews allows pupils to be immersed in the vibrant social, cultural, academic and sporting life of the town – which supports their extra-curricular learning, outside the classroom.

Expert coaching at the home of golf

students and teacher at St Leonards school

According to Dawn Pemberton-Hislop, learning even extends to the world’s most famous golf course, thanks to a partnership with St Andrews Links Trust.

She added: “Pupils enjoy access to the university’s exceptional facilities and minds, be that strength and conditioning sessions at the gym, study spaces in the library, or the programme of lectures and workshops enjoyed by undergraduates and residents alike. The school also partners with the St Andrews Links Trust to deliver a leading five-tier golf programme: pupils enrolled on the programme have access to state-of-the-art practice facilities, expert coaching, and world-famous courses in the ‘home of golf’.”

Reflecting upon what makes St Leonards such a unique place to live and learn, Simon Brian said: “It is the warmth of community and strength of relationships that make St Leonards unique. Every pupil is encouraged and supported to succeed, wherever their interest may lie. We ensure each individual student is valued, and their voice heard. Our commitment to academic excellence, the very best pastoral care, and co-curricular enrichment foster a nurturing, vibrant and stimulating learning environment which prepares pupil Ad Vitam, for life.”

Early application is encouraged, for entry into Years 1-6 and Years 7-13 for August 2022, and especially at key entry points. Find out more information about admissions to St Leonards or make an enquiry, or contact the Admissions Team at: