22nd November 2019

In June 2019 I started my MA with Falmouth university as part of an accredited education programme.


CONTEXTUAL RESEARCH WEEK 10 : Researching education & Childhood –


I have just been researching the Awen project that is being set up in Wales . I looked at their site a couple of months back when the idea was more in it’s infancy (at least online ) and have popped back today and there has been huge strides in what they are doing. This video explaining what their autonomous school will look like has been uploaded and it looks amazing – to the point of my daughter just asked if she could go 🙂

The video is from the awe project home page . (First accessed 22.11.2019)

The Awen project is being set up in Wales as an autonomous, free to attend, democratic school. Wikipedia definies a democratic education as –

” Democratic education is an educational ideal in which democracy is both a goal and a method of instruction. It brings democratic values to education and can include self-determination within a community of equals, as well as such values as justice, respect and trust. The history of democratic education spans from at least the 1600s. While it is associated with a number of individuals, there has been no central figure, establishment, or nation that advocated democratic education.[1] Democratic education is often specifically emancipatory, with the students’ voices being equal to the teacher’s.[2] “

Definition democratic education – – (First Accessed 22.11.19)

The main thing to take away, is that the children who attend the school have an equal voice in the running of the school, the rules, what they choose to learn, everything and anything about the school they share in the decision making of.

The Awen project is being set up by Charlotte church , who has been a long standing advocate of home education, having been home educating her own children. The video is really inspiring in it’s easy to understand explanation of why a Childs voice should be heard in the decisions about their own education , and is backed up and given scientific and social weight by including educationalist Guy Claxton, Sean Bellemy the co-founder of sands school, Sophie Howe, future generations commissioner for Wales , Mark McKenna founding director of the down to earth project, and Gaynor Coley, former MD of the eden project.

I love in the shot that follows children giving their ideas as to how the project can run, and what their school would look like, where Charlotte says, “LITTLE HUMANS ARE REALLY AMAZING” , it’s exactly how I feel, they really REALLY are !  This culture we have of moaning about our children, it’s like telling horror stories of birth, people like to tell the dramatic , hard, stories, having children can be hard, but when we stop and listen and forget everything else for a while, and pay attention, we realise they are totally totally amazing , and we need to give them much more credit than we currently do!

I have contacted Awen school to see if they would consider being part of my project over one of the next modules where I am aiming to photograph alternative schools, cooperative home education groups, forest & beach schools, and home education groups. I’m not overly optimistic that they will be able to as I am anticipating they will probably have quite a lot of media interest already, but you never know ! Fingers crossed.


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This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.