Testimonials

Sam Burns (16)
Sands School is one of a kind as schools go. I believe it’s a place where teachers and students alike can share their ideas and beliefs equally about the running of the school. I have enjoyed my time here immensely, Sands has been a great improvement over my last school because I have been able to sort out any issues I had with small groups of students and teachers. Because of Sands’ size the relationship between students and teachers is more like friends than anything else. The freedom at Sands is only comparable to the stories of college I’ve heard.

Michael Hirsch (15)
I came to Sands because I hate the state school system. I was always bored in class and in lessons, and in some lessons I felt held back. I woke up every morning feeling tired and frustrated. In school I wanted to be like everyone else. In Sands I feel a lot more relaxed and a lot less held back. I could work and be myself freely.
Sands School is democratic so everyone gets a say in what they think of the school. The teachers are the same as the pupils and all have equal votes. There is a meeting every Wednesday where the whole school discuss problems and things to do in the school. Every day the kids come to school and are free to do what they want to do. I have enjoyed Sands so far and I’m sure I will continue to enjoy it.

Paul Webber (16)
I was at a state school for a couple of years until joining Sands in the 03 group about three and half years ago. Since then I’ve had to get up twice as early but it’s worth it. Sands is a lot different from other schools, everybody gets their say at the weekly meetings to discuss issues on the agenda.
Sands is an easy place to make friends. I’ve made a lot more friends in and out of the school since I’ve been here. Coming to Sands has been a good experience for me.

Natalia Kneen (16)
Sands school. It’s brilliant. I first discovered the school when I was in year 8, I was at a state school in Ivybridge at the time. I went to my head of year and asked him if I could take a week off to go on trial at this democratic school, he told me that if I was to go I would lose my place at the comp. I didn’t care. I went on trial and settled in straight away. Thankfully I got voted in! The thing that attracted me to Sands was the fact that every one is an equal and that every one has the right to speak their mind. Every week we have a meeting to discuss points on the agenda. These points vary. I feel that these meetings are very tedious yet they are what Sands is all about. In these meetings we vote on issues concerning the school and the students in it. We decide the result by each person going through the chair, (usually a student) making proposal and then we have a show of raised hands on all the proposals that were seconded, a majority count wins. This democracy strategy really works.
I feel that Sands School has completely changed my life, definitely for the better. I was really unhappy at my old school, probably because it’s a horrible school and they really didn’t care. I get on really well with the students. I completely love all the teachers here, they’re really sound. They have supported my decisions and helped me to make them. One of the best things about it is that they accept you for you. I feel completely at home here, they’re my second family.
THANK YOU!

Laura Cole (17)
Did you value your time at Sands, was it a positive experience? How did it affect your choices and opportunities? What are you doing now?
I was home educated before I came to Sands School. In fact, I hadn’t tried out any primary or secondary schools at all. I was thirteen when I started at Sands, in January 2000.
It was a bit daunting at first but it soon became just an extension of my family. I think it’s the best thing I could have done with that three and a half years of my life. I wouldn’t have handled going to a state school.
I left Sands in July, and it is now September. Sands has only been back a couple of days and it already feels weird, not being there. I have decided to take a year out this year, because even though Sands is relaxed, I need some spare time just to do what I want for a while.
I am starting a massage course in late September and also a photography course. I’m thinking of getting some paid work to pay for my horses, which I am aiming to spend more time with this year, and also I am going to begin driving lessons, at the end of November, when I’ll be seventeen. If I feel at the end of this year I have not achieved enough, I will do one year of college then.
Would you consider sending your own children to Sands or have you already, and why?
I would love my children to go to Sands, if I ever have children. But it depends on whether they would prefer to go to a state school or not. I would like them to choose as far as possible, like I did.
What would be the most important aspect of the “Sands experience” in your experience?
I think the best thing about Sands is that it teaches everyone that adults and children all have the same rights. Sands helped me meet more people, as being home educated there are less people around, even though we had an Education Otherwise group. So it helped me venture into the big wide world.
What are your thoughts on mainstream education; do you have strong opinions about alternatives as a result of being a Sands student?
I strongly agree with alternative education. I think people get badly treated in mainstream, and it’s not at all fair.

Laurel Jo Stills (18)
Did you value your time at Sands, was it a positive experience? How did it affect your choices and opportunities? What are you doing now?
I am very glad that I went to Sands. It helped me to be me. Although a lot of the time seemed to be used up discussing things I did manage to get my GCSEs, which qualified me to go to Exeter. It gave me the same academic options as a state school. I went on to get a BTEC, an A level and an AS level at sixth form, and I am now completing a Music Foundation in London. In October I am going to start my Degree. Sands taught me how to relate to people and how to be responsible for myself.
Would you consider sending your own children to Sands or have you already, and why?
I think I would. I do think it’s important to start young. So that you can get over the fact that you can do what you want. Getting to grips with not having to rebel is something that every child has to deal with at Sands. At first a lot of people go a bit wild before they settle down. I think that it’s best if you get it over with young so that when it comes to doing your GCSEs you are settled and ready. At my time at Sands I noticed that people that came at 14 and over tended to be more unsettled and less understanding of the school. (This of course is a generalisation). And often they seem to have more trouble with their GCSEs.
What would be the most important aspect of the “Sands experience” in your experience?
In my experience, relationship is an important aspect for me. Seeing teachers as not only real people, but also friends. Learning that different people can be friends. Summer days playing in the sun not trapped inside. Reading ‘Cider With Rosie’ in a field with Sybilla instead of in the classroom, the class lying in the grass and sat in a tree. Awful student cooked school lunches and finally being saved by delicious Joanna in the last few years. Finding out for myself how much I want to learn. Science with Gabriel, the best science teacher ever! Painting the art room floor, Art generally, Steve’s lectures. Sybilla’s moral high ground! Climbing with Nathan. Boys falling out of the tops of trees, grabbing at branches on the way down and miraculously landing without a scratch. Being mistaken for a boy in the school pantomime, the conference, Israeli boys! School camps. Protesting about fishing trips. Christmas feasts. JUST FUN.
What are your thoughts on mainstream education; do you have strong opinions about alternatives as a result of being a Sands student?
I think that mainstream ed. does work. It’s just not always a happy experience. I started off at Sands at 11, after spending three weeks at South Dartmoor. I hated it! They got confused about the difference between discipline and control. It felt that I was always guilty of something or doing something wrong, because the teachers always seemed so suspicious.
The only thing I’d like to change (or add) to Sands is a Music department. Ever since Meryl got the Drama department going it’s been great! Such a rich resource. It would make the school almost perfect with music.

Latifa (12)
Did you value your time at Sands, was it a positive experience? How did it affect your choices and opportunities? What are you doing now?
My time at Sands worked well with my otherwise liberal upbringing. During my time there the school and home environments were harmonious and this helped me to settle into a new country. I was able to progress at my own pace, focussing only on the most important things for me personally, i.e. improving my English. Having been to Sands I preceded through conventional secondary education with a greater sense of perspective and autonomy. I am in my last year of FE, ready to take my gap year during which I intent to read and pursue my wide range of interests.
Would you consider sending your own children to Sands or have you already, and why?
I believe that children respond differently to the freedom that Sands offers. Perhaps the key lies in a child receiving similarly forward-looking stimulation at home.
I would certainly consider sending my child to Sands because it would be given the space to develop into a well-rounded individual. However, I would want my child to experience the difference between Sands and ordinary schools to better understand people and the functioning of the world as a whole.
What would be the most important aspect of the “Sands experience” in your experience?
Going on the Scilly Isles camp was an important experience to have had. It helped me to get to know other people at school. This was followed by the International Conference, which was being held at Sands. The best thing about this week-long event was the ease of communication we all seemed to enjoy.
What are your thoughts on mainstream education; do you have strong opinions about alternatives as a result of being a Sands student?
My feelings about mainstream education are very strong. When I went to a mainstream school, I experienced a feeling of alienation, and helplessness. However, having already had the chance to express my individuality I was able to overcome this feeling, and learn how to be successful in a very different system. I would like to one day have some influence in this matter. I believe that education should be free and accessible to all. I feel that society would benefit from a change in the education system to incorporate the ideas of Sands and “alternative education” on a much larger scale. Particularly the sense of community that is present at Sands helps to nurture the good qualities of every individual.
Iva Cameron (15)
I’ve been going to sands school for 3 weeks it’s not very long but so far I think it’s a really good school and I like the way all the classes are more laid back and everybody’s a lot more friendly.
I went to state school for 2 years the teachers just treated you like the rest of the class, like you weren’t a different person, or they picked on you. For instance say something went wrong in the class, they would automatically blame you even if it wasn’t you, but at Sands its not like that. They talk to you about things instead of shouting. They get you to sort things out with people instead of just punishing you.
The other thing I like about Sands school is that the school decides what the rules are not just the teachers. So in my opinion Sands School is a happier place for teacher and student alike.

Holly Levy-So (17)
Did you value your time at Sands, was it a positive experience? How did it affect your choices and opportunities? What are you doing now?
Yes a lot, it didn’t feel like it, but now I have realised how effective and brilliant it is. Right now I’m in college, and already I miss it a lot, thinking back over the years I have been there, although there have been bad times, there are really good times that have stuck in my head and changed the way I choose to enjoy and live a sorted life, just by the opportunities I have been given in my time at Sands.
Would you consider sending your own children to Sands or have you already, and why?
Definitely when I have kids I will send all my kids to Sands or at least advise them to go, if the school is still running and hasn’t changed by that time of course.
What would be the most important aspect of the “Sands experience” in your experience?
Learning to be independent, and socially interactive. Learning to be able to make choices in your life and understanding that actions have consequences, and by having luxuries you also have to take responsibility.
What are your thoughts on mainstream education; do you have strong opinions about alternatives as a result of being a Sands student?
I think the state schools come across to me as just a place where you work and learn, but are not able to be free to choose what and when you learn. I think it is a less successful method.
Ella Bell (15)
Before I came to Sands I went to a huge comprehensive state school. I enjoyed most of the lessons there, but I hated most of the people there and I got badly bullied. I had loads of time off, until I felt sick at the thought of going to school. Eventually I left KEVICS, and came to Sands.
I really like Sands, because it is a lot smaller and you get more help in the lessons. The people here are nicer too! I like it that you don’t have to wear a uniform and the fact that the students get a big say in what happens in the school.

Claudia Freeman (14)
I have been going to the school for 4 years and I love it to bits I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I went to a state school for a year before Sands, it was hell. Some of the students in Y group I have known since primary school and we are really close.
I have made lots of friends at Sands in all of the groups and the teachers are really cool. Sands is a great school and I will be sad to leave at the end of the year.
Sands has given me so much and more people should come and enjoy it as much as I have.

Caroline Ommaney (15)
I’ve been coming to Sands school for ten months. I went to another private school for seven years which was getting too strict for my liking. I found out about this school from my mum who found about it from a friend. I came on a trial week quite soon after finding out about this school. A trial week is a week which at the end everyone will vote on you coming to the school or not coming. The school is democratic so everyone has a say on what happens within the school. It is more laid back then a normal school and the teachers have conversations to the students about anything. Unlike a normal school the teachers don’t boss you around. There is less pressure on you finishing work because the teachers let you work at your own pace and they don’t expect you to finish the work in the lessons because everyone has their different speeds and ways of doing work. Everyone gets on with each one. The rules are common sense rules.
There is a school camp and the end of every summer term, we vote on the place we want to go to in the school meeting a month before we go. My first school camp was to France, it was great despite the weather. The weather was despicable as it was gale force winds and rain. We got evacuated from the campsite because everything was getting drenched from the rain.

Amy Behrens (14)
I really love Sands School because everyone has their say, and even if you are a small newcomer you still can have just as equal say as the teachers.
I love nearly all the teachers and if I am ever feeling down then I can just go and cuddle up with a blanket, and talk to your tutor about your troubles.
The school can be scary and loud at first sight but when you actually come then it is an excellent place that feels like home.

Alice Ash (17)
Did you value your time at Sands, was it a positive experience? How did it affect your choices and opportunities? What are you doing now?
Sands was the best thing that ever happened to me. I loved every day.
Thanks to you all especially Sybilla, Sean and Steve. I wouldn’t have made it and chosen my path without help and friendship.
Would you consider sending your own children to Sands or have you already, and why?
Of course, I wouldn’t send them anywhere else.
What would be the most important aspect of the “Sands experience” in your experience?
The friendship with the staff that you could not find anywhere else in any other school.
What are your thoughts on mainstream education; do you have strong opinions about alternatives as a result of being a Sands student?
I didn’t like it at all. That’s why I came to Sands.