The Acorn School was founded on 16th September 1991, in the conservatory of Graeme and Sarah Whiting. The ‘little glass box’ measured eight feet by six and a half feet and was the classroom of the first students for the first week of the school. It was a very hard period in my educational life; no salary, little equipment and no school fees forthcoming. I had recently left a Steiner school, and felt very privileged to be able to realise my ambition in education, in my own school. The early years were hard; no building that could be called a school, no playground, except the local countryside, and little school equipment. To earn enough to feed my family, I travelled every weekend to London to teach swimming in a prestigious swim school, while Sarah took to ironing other men’s shirts and various other jobs, whilst looking after our own children. After only a few weeks word spread, the numbers increased, and in the first two years the nascent school moved to bigger premises, four times. There were really tough times for Sarah and I, but we had one goal, and that was to create The Acorn School. We never thought we were anything but lucky, and felt supported by the wonderful first children of The Acorn School. As Piaget would write ‘only the process is important’. Inspired by the verse of Goethe (Begin It Now!), given to me by a great lady called Frances Greatorex, who had inspired me to start the school, Sarah and I strived for what we believed would be an excellent education for our children, as well as other people’s.
In 1993, I heard about a purpose-built Victorian Church school building in Nailsworth, which had become vacant. Shortly afterwards, The Acorn School moved in as tenant, and a year later we bought the school. By now the school had 30 students. Today, 20 years on, and we still occupy the same beautiful school building.
The school was first assessed by OFSTED in 2005. Whilst we do not necessarily measure our success with exactly the same criteria expected by OFSTED, it was nevertheless gratifying to receive a rating of ‘Outstanding’. The school was inspected again in February 2009 and in February 2012, and received a further two ‘Outstanding’ ratings.
Since the school began there has been a regular influx of students coming from abroad bringing further valuable contributions to the cultural life of the school. The school has attracted students from as far afield as Korea and Japan, Malaysia, America, Germany, France and Israel. Almost all students have entered the school as a result of word of mouth.
The school currently numbers around 65 students from age six to nineteen years of age.