Saint Andrew's Orthodox Church School


Introduction to our curriculum and methodology

‘Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.’

– James 3:1

The responsibility for the proper upbringing and education of children (as St John Chrysostom reminds us in no uncertain terms1) lies with their parents. As a school we see our role as a supportive one. We collaborate with families and assist them to provide their children with a proper Christian education that will give them the skills they need to prosper. Because of this, we make a point of being transparent. At Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School we want our parents to be able to scrutinize what their children are learning. We want our families to develop the confidence that their children are receiving an excellent education, all with an Orthodox Christian ethos.

In this document you will find information about the pedagogies and other educational views that work together to shape our classrooms. The purpose of this text is to give readers a thorough sense of what St. Andrew’s Church School will teach, how it is to be taught, and why we have made these choices. You will learn about our approach to learning so that you can make sense of our curriculum. At the bottom of this document you can find links to a detailed breakdown of what children learn in each subject, but first it is useful to get an overview of the pedagogical philosophies that inform the content.

Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School wants to give its students the highest quality learning programme possible. To this purpose we have created a unique curriculum that brings together the best elements from what we consider to be the most successful educational models. We are proud of what our school has to offer and we want to share this with you.

By way of introduction let us say that: the curriculum is much more than just the curriculum content. Children learn the content of what you teach them, and this is important of course; but it is only a small part of their learning at a school. They also learn through interaction with their peers. Children share their knowledge with one another by speaking together or playing; but also, they learn about society by observing one another. As you will see in more detail below: as a school we use this reality to our advantage, doing our best to support positive relationships that bring out the best in everyone.

Children also learn independently, by personally exploring the school environment in which they find themselves. We take great care therefore to create beautiful inspiring spaces where children will find numerous opportunities to engage with profitable images and materials.

Importantly, children also learn through imitation: by modelling themselves on their role models. Their parents are often their primary role models, but others also play a significant role. This is the reason why we see children of primary-school age fascinated with heroes (fictional and real). As you learn more about our curriculum content you will see that we strive to introduce children to the lives of saints as well as other admirable historical and cultural personalities. We also consider that all teachers and school staff have a responsibility to strive to live authentically according to the faith, so that they themselves model the behaviour that we want from our students. This also applies to teachers modelling an approach to study that makes us good learners. As St Porphyrios underlined: adults should worry about becoming saints themselves and then the children will follow them naturally.

Keep these things in mind as you read the following description of our school’s pedagogical philosophy. It will help you to better understand our approach. Finally, you will notice that throughout this document we direct the reader to read the breakdown of our maths curriculum. The description of our maths programme has been written in more detail for the purpose of acting as an example of the approach that we take to teaching the school subjects. We recommend that it is read in conjunction with this introduction to get a full understanding of our approach.

We will now say something about the educational philosophies we draw from to shape our school’s curriculum. These are:

  1. Classical Education

  2. Socratic Education

  3. International Baccalaureate

  4. Montessori

  5. Gamification

  6. Charlotte Mason’s Living Schools Approach

Classical Education

Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School is a Classical School. This means that we follow (for the most part) a Classical Curriculum. This is a rather rigorous system of education that is content-heavy while at the same time being a very joyful programme.

It gets its name from the fact that it aims to correct some of the shortcomings of modern schooling (meaning ’progressive education as it has been evolving since the 20th century) by looking back at the best elements of schooling throughout history. The Classical Education movement has identified an approach to education that ran from the days of Classical Greece, through Roman and Medieval times, and up until the major modernisations that took place in the 1900’s. In other words, it is held that someone like CS Lewis received an education that was similar in a significant sense to that of all the educated people of the past, but which ended with the progressive movement of the 20th century2.

One of the changes that classical educators have taken issue with is the shift away from learning knowledge. It is considered that a person needs to know enough facts about their world – so as to form a correct view of the world – so that they can then think reasonably about subjects. Modern school systems have generally made a shift, away from learning facts, towards issues of well-being, life skills, and higher order skills3. As a parent you may have noticed that children enjoy going to school but ‘they don’t learn very much about anything’.

Higher order skills are things like: critical thinking, evaluation of ideas, comprehension (understanding things deeply), analysing information, synthesising information, and applying knowledge. Classical education agrees that these are good skills to have. You cannot however perform these skills properly without first having a foundation of true knowledge and lower order skills4. You have to know things (have a correct view of the facts about your subject matter), you need to be able to recall them, and then you can apply this ‘worldview’ that you have in your mind and engage in higher order skills.

A person cannot (for example) think critically about how to solve the environmental problem, if they have not got significant knowledge and understanding of the relevant facts. If a child tries to have an opinion without having proper knowledge, then they are not actually thinking critically. They are only imitating the opinions of others.

Classical education trains children in the lower order skills so that, as they grow, they can truly realise their capacity for higher order skills. It is a system of education that is content-heavy. In effect what this means is: that it is a system of education that is designed, using various methods, to teach children a decent amount of serious content.

The classical system considers that there are three stages to learning:

Each stage corresponds to a stage in child development. The idea is that young children are interested primarily in learning what is true about the world they find themselves in. They are good at soaking up facts, they are great at memorising information, and they want to know how everything works5. This is the Grammar Stage and it last up to roughly the age of nine or ten. At this early-stage children form much of their ‘worldview’: that is, their impression of what is. Education in the Grammar Stage makes the most of the skills and interests that children naturally exhibit, to equip them with the ‘grammar’ of thought. It gives them a foundation of knowledge in each subject studied.

As children grow they start asking why and how. They enter the Logic Stage (otherwise known as the Dialectic Stage). Their education evolves into identifying connections and distinctions between ideas. It is a time when children grow in understanding. They focus on thinking, reasoning and analysing. By the time they reach this point they have ‘grammar’ well fixed in their minds that they can draw on with ease.

The Logic Stage occurs roughly between the ages of ten and fourteen. This is followed by the Rhetoric Stage which brings children to the end of their schooling at age eighteen.

As a primary school we are concerned primarily with the Grammar Stage and the beginnings of the Logic Stage. Primary school is a time when children learn, observe, and remember, always growing in knowledge. We give our children an overview of the world, teaching about the natural world (nature studies, maths and science) and the human (history, geography, art, language and so on).

In the history class, for example, the Classical system teaches the past in chronological order and gives children a timeline to learn by heart. This gives learners the context for placing every instance of history that they learn about. It helps them to see the greater narrative of history. Details (particular moments of history) are studied within the context of it all: the details work together to make an overview, and the overview gives context to each detail. This approach ensures that children are not just learning random floating (effectively thus useless) fact-bits. Instead they are learning the parts of the whole. Knowledge of facts is properly ordered to support understanding. See more about our History programme.

Classical schools often use curriculum cycles. This means that students study a programme of content that runs over two or three years, and then they repeat that same content again after they complete the cycle6. So, in history for example, Saint Andrew’s Church School uses a three-year cycle. Cycle one teaches ancient history, cycle 2 teaches medieval to modern world history, and cycle three teaches local Scottish and British history. Children study these in Primary 1-3. They memorise the songs and become familiar with the stories. They study the same periods again in Primary 4-6, this time going into greater depth and understanding. They also have the opportunity to revise their history memory-work. In Primary 7 they study one of the cycle years yet again, this time employing a new set of skills7.

The cyclical approach develops depth of understanding and ensures that children will remember what they have learnt. There is no point is making the effort to study something once and then letting it slip into the rubbish bin of forgotten things.

Another characteristic of Classical Education at the primary school level (the Grammar Stage) is that it uses a lot of memorising and recalling. Important facts are committed to memory. Students memorise a large number of key facts by learning little rhymes or songs. Music makes it enjoyable and easy to learn the facts by heart. It also helps students to retain the memory and recall it later. This lower-order skill is practiced in the early years and bears fruit in a child’s further learning.

Classical Education is not merely concerned with creating a knowledgeable human being. It strives to support the growth of the whole person towards being a fulfilled, wise, happy person, and an able virtuous member of society8. Education has an important role to play in bringing forth a person’s full potential. Classical Education takes this responsibility very seriously. It is the aim at the heart of the classical system of learning.

A Classical school is designed to bring out the best in students. The method used to achieve this is to ‘give the best to the child’. You bring out the best in a person by bringing the best to them. The curriculum brings the learner face to face with what is good, honourable and inspiring.

Concerning nature, children study the awesomeness of creation, whilst of course pointing to what is most magnificent – the Creator. Regarding humanity too, children immerse themselves in the study of the best art, the best music, the most excellent literature. Children study ‘the great works’ of humanity, seeing the best of what people before them have made. High quality work and excellence become an educational method to inspire excellence in learners. They study the great heroes of history, and of course, in an Orthodox Christian school like our own, they come to know the lives of the saints very well.

That is not to say that the study of history is sugar-coated to make it nice: truth is a foundational value of a proper education. Students also learn about the tragedies and mistakes that humans have made, such as wars and the oppressive use of their fellow humans. Like an apprenticeship, Classical Education places the learner where they can observe the great events and people of the past, so that they can be inspired by their good deeds and learn from their mistakes.

Having established this we can now understand the motto that the Classical Education movement holds so dear: the true, the good and the beautiful. The Classical School introduces the child to what humans have been, and to what we have come to know, and apprentices them in what is best therein. It wants to create a person who understands the world, who aims upwards, who can be inspired by the people of the past and learn from their mistakes.

By this point you may be wondering if the Classical Curriculum will be too hard (or even if all this memorising is boring). It is a rigorous programme of study. It gives a lot to the learner and it expects a lot from them. It respects the student as a creation of God. The school does not teach students to waste their time. The person is capable of wonderful achievements, but these are not reached without sustained effort.

All this however is done in an age-appropriate way. The study is interesting, serious and joyful. Music and stories are used to teach the content. Children love to hear stories. They love to know about events that happened in the lives of their parents and grandparents. The Classical school, in a sense, tells the narrative of our ancestors, of their actions, their thoughts and their discoveries. Happy games are used to revise the content.

At Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School we have chosen to follow a Classical curriculum because, as you can see, it is perfectly compatible with Christianity. Indeed we are following the trend of several Christian schools that are adopting the Classical model to give their students an excellent education.

We have now given something of an overview of the Classical Education model that we use. In our school we have created a unique learning programme by mixing this with elements from other complementary philosophies. Our teaching methodologies draw from Socratic Education. This means that in our classrooms children engage in dialogue with their fellow learners as well as with their teacher – using questions to unpack the content they are learning and understand it better. Questions are also used to direct student’s attention so that they can discover new knowledge themselves, to help them express clearly latent knowledge that they already have, and to motivate them to want to know more. You can find an example of how this is done in our maths curriculum.

International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is another (widely acknowledged) excellent system of learning that we have been inspired by. The valuable element we take from it is how it treats learners with respect, as able scholars in training, capable of understanding, thinking, finding and creating knowledge. Further down in this document you will see how children have the opportunity to carry out their own research, gather data and formulate knowledge. You will see that by Primary 7 students are expected to write (an age-appropriate) dissertation on a topic of their choice. In line with the classical model, the Socratic method and the IB approach, we trust that our learners are capable of engaging with knowledge about their world, understand it and think deeply and seriously about it.


Our school furthermore takes elements from the Montessori system, that is, we take the idea that children benefit from having visual aids and educational manipulatives provided to them by the school environment. This just means that we provide maps (on the wall, or map puzzles), timelines and ‘mathematical toys’ that children can play with/examine at their own pace.

Children like to touch things to see how they work. They like to take things apart and put them back together to learn how the parts relate to one another. Children study facts about the world by touching things. Maria Montessori did a good job of bringing ‘educational toys’ into the classroom and depicting information in permanent features in the school (again, this just means having a large map on the wall or a long historical timeline painted on the floor) that children can study over time in self-directed learning.

Simply put, the Montessori idea is to fill the learning environment with thought-provoking images and conceptual toys and to allow children opportunities to study these. You provide content but you allow the students to engage with it in a self-directed way. An important reason why this method is effective is because knowledge and understanding is developed over time. Ideas need time to settle. By being able to come back to a concept again and again, children, motivated by their curiosity, are able to deepen their understanding.


Gamification is a teaching methodology that does exactly as the name suggests. It turns parts of the learning experience into a game and uses the motivation that this brings to achieve the learning. Again, you can see our maths curriculum for examples of how this is used. Children cannot always appreciate the inherent value of what they are learning. Becoming educated is a laborious difficult task requiring repetitive dedicated effort. Excellence requires us to apply ourselves, and it is not readily obvious to children that hard work will bear practical benefit and joy in the long run. Gamifying lessons offers children the immediate reward and motivation they want in order to stay engaged with their lessons.

Inspired by Charlotte Mason

Finally, our curriculum is inspired by Charlotte Mason’s Living Schools approach. This comes from her famous phrase living books used to refer to books that do not teach facts in dry abstract ways but place facts in lively stories that give the learning a context. An excellent example of this is using Thornton W. Burgess’ children’s books to teach children facts about nature. These wonderful storybooks are full of facts about the lives of animals in the wild but these are narrated in engaging fictional stories about loveable animal characters.

The idea is that children (like all of us) like narrative and story. They like to know how facts fit into the ‘bigger picture’ (our world). At Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School we provide many living books in our library and our students have ample opportunity to use these in their studies.

Scottish Curriculum for Excellence

We will now go on to say a little about how our curriculum relates to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). This is the educational framework used by all state schools in Scotland as well as many of the private schools. Those readers that are familiar with the CfE will see that our school does not follow the ethos of the Scottish state curriculum. Being a Christian school we aim always at revealing to students the beauty and grandeur of creation (in their study of the natural sciences); and the importance of truth and virtue in human actions and relationships (in the study of humanities); always pointing towards the Creator and Lover of mankind. We give students a picture where God is loving, and our ultimate purpose is to turn towards Him and imitate Him.

Nevertheless, we have aligned our learning outcomes in each subject with the outcomes defined in the Scottish CfE9. We have done this carefully because we want our students to have the option of attending any secondary school in Scotland after completing their studies with us. Parents can be confident that their children are achieving the learning objectives of their peers in other local schools.

We have now looked briefly at all the pedagogical philosophies that inform our school curriculum. Now we will look at various further features that work together to make our school a unique and wonderful place.

1. Accommodating for boys

1. An unfortunate phenomenon in education (widely observed since 1988) is that boys are significantly underperforming in our primary and secondary schools. Not enough study of the problem has been carried out to identify its causes, but a good ‘educated guess’ concludes something along the lines of: ‘the school environment and its teaching styles are not well adapted to the ways that boys behave and learn.’10

At Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School we have designed our teaching practices to address this problem as best we can. Our daily schedule is designed to allow more physical activity than is common in schools. We have worked small breaks into the day between classes. Informally we call these the boisterous moments, since they are intended to give children regular relief from the demands of the classroom. Children can take breaks, be loud and move about, which in turn enables them to show the more attentive behaviour expected of them during lessons.

You will notice also that we offer a physical education class each day (whereas it is common practice for schools to have one physical education lesson per week). These classes have been designed to promote fun, physical social interaction through games, physical exertion, and again, the much-needed break from sitting, being calm, quiet and concentrating in class.

We have also introduced gamification and kinaesthetic learning into much of the classroom learning, in this way making the lessons appropriate for all the main learning styles. Finally, as you can see in the example of our mathematics classes, we acknowledge that children are highly social beings. Our classrooms are interactive and we support group learning (using peer work where appropriate). Teachers and staff are aware that it is important to maintain a positive social environment where children are bringing out the best in themselves and in their peers. We pay attention to showing children how to interact with others as Christians should – with love. Children practice both how to cooperate and how to compete in a good-spirited manner.

Our school is a lively place. Children are part of a team. Everyone there, along with their teacher, is working together to achieve a high standard of learning. Children work together, aim high and excel together. We expect a lot from our students and we use a variety of activities to motivate them to stay focused.

Having said that, let us also say that scholarly study cannot always be lively. It is not appropriate, we believe, to expect children to sit and concentrate on their ‘book learning’ for long hours every day. Many children, and particularly boys are not able to engage with school learning sufficiently if it is overly restrictive. Nevertheless, any good scholar must sit down quietly at his book and apply himself to his work quietly – even forcing himself to concentrate and develop his skills. This is something that children need to learn.

We do expect our students to focus quietly, practice repetitive skills (like handwriting) and sit still with their book work for about an hour and a half each day. This method of study is used during the English Language Arts classes each morning.

2. Regarding Homework

Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School does not give out homework. There are three reasons for this. The first is that we believe strongly in the importance of family life. Children need to spend time with the members of their family and take part in life at home. Children are already away for long hours each day (too long perhaps!). We do not want to take up the few precious hours that families have together in the evenings with homework tasks that tire children and stress their parents. We want to do our part to secure time when family life can occur.

Secondly, there is no need to give out homework. Children cover sufficient material during the school day. Indeed, the school day could have been shorter if schools did not have to play the dual role – alongside providing learning – of childminding during adult working hours. We expect our students to participate fully during their time at school: and we believe that they deserve their break after the long day.

Finally, our students work hard for the six hours they spend in school every day. We expect them to be almost constantly engaged during that time. We offer a demanding knowledge-heavy curriculum. Resting your brain in the hours after school, or doing something very different, is known to actually boost performance, and increase ability to concentrate.

For those children who wish to continue their studies after school we have put together an excellent lending library. Children can find here both great works of literature and information books relevant to their studies. Families are encouraged to use use our library regularly.

Additionally, we provide a CD with the ‘information songs’ that children are memorising. We suggest that families listen to these songs as often as possible. Repetition will help children to commit the lyrics to memory. Enjoying these together with their family member also heartens children. It gives children the chance to demonstrate (show off) what they have learnt. It also lets them know that their parents approve of what they learn at school. This is a very critical point in the psychology of child learning! Children learn far more successfully when their parents show that they value what is being learnt. The importance of this cannot be overstated, and it is perhaps the most real function that ‘homework’ performs: showing up the link between what the school expects of the children and what their parents want them to aim at.

3. A happy Environmental Education

Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School is characterised by a deep commitment to Environmental Education. We take a special approach to this that we call the ‘positive approach’. Our programme is designed to teach students the value inherent in creation so that they can best appreciate it and benefit from it, as well as feel the importance of caring for and preserving nature.

4. Applied learning

Many of the school subjects use an applied method of teaching and learning. An example is the Music class: it is effectively a children’s choir. Children learn about harmony and various music styles by singing songs from a variety of traditions. Additional piano lessons give the students instruction in playing an instrument and reading music. They learn music theory, music history, and ethnomusicology, primarily by participating in music-making. The Practical Problem-Solving class is entirely an applied subject. If you look at our Nature Studies programme furthermore, you will see that direct experience of outdoor spaces is a fundamental part of the pupil’s study of nature.

Notably, our lessons on Christian Theology and Church History are studied in an applied way. Students primarily learn about the faith by learning about the lives of saints. The words and actions of our Church saints are applied theology. In this more direct way children learn the details of our faith and how this has been applied in countless instances, in differing circumstances, across time and in every part of the world, by immeasurable numbers of unique persons, each with their own interests and personalities. The children also pray together regularly at designated moments throughout the day – and in this way they practice (and learn about) forgiveness and love. They also develop their understanding of theology through the hymns that they learn as a choir.

We put emphasis on such practical ways of experiencing and learning, mixing these with our scholarly studies, because the applied complements the more abstract intellectual learning. For children in particular, the applied approach is the main natural way of learning. It provides a solid and rich foundation for developing their understanding throughout their life. Applied studies give children ample opportunity to derive concepts and create their own learning through doing. Applied work always contains infinitely more ‘information’ than abstracted theoretical study and thus it acts to ground the theoretical knowledge that children also learn.

5. Emphasis on the expressive arts

Related to the above point, our school also gives much emphasis to the expressive arts. The school choir develops children’s love for music and singing. The choir visits homes for the elderly to sing carols and also performs on occasion to the Church parish. This gives children occasion to use their talents and their learning to enrich the life of their community.

Our art classes, together with the project work sessions, give children the opportunity to practice and exhibit their art and design skills. Theology workshops on Fridays include a weekly opportunity to plan, design and act in mini theatres. Children also practice speaking and presenting information to their classmates during their participation in class. Our physical education classes include traditional (Scottish and other) dancing; and our weekly piano lessons provide instruction in making music with instruments. The result is a joyful environment where children can express themselves in a variety of positive ways.

6. Low-tech classroom and a ‘return to teaching’

St. Andrew’s Orthodox Church school is a low-tech environment. We take what we call a ‘return to teaching approach’. Research has shown two relevant points: (a) that screens produce lower-quality learning than books do. Children learn better with book, pencil and paper than they do with apps. (b) That screen time makes children more distracted, and less able to concentrate and absorb information. It also has a negative impact on their relationships with others around them leaving them more isolated, and invariably deteriorates their emotional and mental wellbeing. For these reasons we do not use digital technology in our classrooms. Additionally we do not allow children to bring smartphones to school.

It is our opinion that schools are relying more and more on apps to motivate the children to learn and thus to ‘do their teaching for them’. We consider that this ‘easier way’ comes at a high cost. We call our approach a ‘return to teaching’ because we expect our teachers to include activities, present learning in interesting ways, and employ the group dynamic to make the learning interesting and to motivate learners.

Having tech-free classrooms creates a more peaceful and a more eventful environment. It gives more opportunity for friendships to flourish, it makes for higher-quality teaching, and creates for us the space where we can inspire children to desire excellence11.

Children in Primary 6 and 7 study computer science. In these classes they learn to use computers as tools. They acquire the skills that will be required of them in a Scottish secondary school. Outside of these classes however, we do not use computers in the classroom.

7. A School filled with Books

We are a book-based school (as you can understand from the preceding point). To begin with we provide an excellent library with good-quality fiction as well as many interesting factual books. It also includes books of important works of art. Children have ample opportunity to make use of the library in school, as well as borrowing books to take home. We also have a physical encyclopaedia that children learn to use regularly. Lessons give children numerous opportunities to carry out their own research using the available books. An example of a common class activity is to give a child (or group) book (on say birds) and to ask them to find out some particular fact, or to extract a summary of a topic they can then present to their classmates.

Additionally each child has quick access to a dictionary and they are taught how to look up unknown words. Teachers are always encouraging children to turn towards books, and our students learn to see the many values of books. Wherever possible we provide children with primary sources, and we allow them time to wrestle with real documents.

7b. Teaching and Learning in Primary Seven

This brings us to Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School’s distinctive approach to teaching Primary Seven pupils. By the age of 11 children are maturing into more independent scholars. They are entering the Logic Stage. At this point the way we approach the student changes. In the classroom they are given many opportunities to do their own research (in groups or on their own). The teacher offers them the support and direction they need to carry out research to deepen their knowledge of the subject studied. They are expected to write up their findings and make regular presentations to younger students, thus practicing their presentation skills and bringing their own study to benefit others12.

The school’s cyclical approach to teaching subject matter supports the transition that Primary Sevens make. By the time children are in their seventh year with us, they have studied the content of the curriculum twice before. This gives them the foundation they need (the introductory understanding) so that they can reach deeper into the subject and develop their knowledge according to what interests them the most. They practice real study skills to complete their learning. They practice both oral and written presentation of their ideas and of the learning they have uncovered. This culminates at the end of the year when the students spend their last couple of months writing an ‘extended essay’ about an element of their school learning that interests them particularly13.

Primary Sevens also benefit from sharing their learning space with younger students (see more about this at point 9). They find themselves in an environment where they can use the knowledge they themselves generate to teach their younger fellow learners. Since it is natural for younger pupils to respect older pupils, this creates a positive encouraging environment where our P7’s can learn by teaching.

8. Building community and supporting friendships

As a Christian school, Saint Andrew’s OCS14 Primary naturally acts as a meeting point for families who value our Christian faith. It is a place where families meet other families who have chosen to bring up their children in a faith-based way; and it is a place where children can meet and befriend other children who are raised in a similar spirit. The school is also a place blessed with a selection of rich Christian traditions. Our students often have behind them a wonderful culture, full of blessed practices that we can all learn from.

As a school we feel greatly enriched by this and we see the importance of supporting the building of a positive school culture, where friendships can flourish, and our students can share and rejoice in (the best of) each other’s cultures. In our studies we look at how our different cultures celebrate Christian feasts, we learn traditional dances from various countries, we learn carols and hymns from our various cultures. Guest speakers bring us a flavour of Christian’s living their life in various situations. As a school we host events (like the school Christmas celebration or the end of year Graduation award ceremony) where our families are invited to bring traditional foods and the children perform something of what they have learnt.

Additionally: we pay close attention to how the children interact amongst themselves, aiming always to inspire them to treat one another with kindness and charity, thus making it likely that friendships will flourish. Our classes, as you have seen, are interactive and we use a lot of group work. Working together, struggling with difficult tasks and having the opportunity to help one another achieve aims is a great foundation for the pupils to develop respect and appreciation for their classmates. Our use of games in Physical Education and our strict policy on technological gadgets is also intended to ensure the sort of playful interactions with which children form bonds15.

Play is a very important activity for children. It is necessary for their healthy development: physically, mentally, and socially. We have brought elements of play-based learning into the way we organise the day and the way we teach our curriculum. Additionally, however, it is important for children to have plenty of free play with other children16.

For this reason we have done more to make our school a place where children come together to play and build relationships. Our playground opens each day 30 minutes before classes start. Parents are welcome to drop off their children early. A staff member is there to ensure that the children are safe. We provide some equipment for den building and creative outdoor play, but children are left much to themselves. It is a space for them to play freely. We also run a play club after school on certain days. Children who are signed up to the club can stay after school for an extra hour and play with their fellows.

9. A mix of ages

Saint Andrew’s OCS considers that children benefit more by spending their days in groups with persons of mixed ages as opposed to being all day in a class with their peers. We have composite classes where children in primary 1-3 share a classroom, as do children in primary 4-5, 6-7. Children are often separated into groups according to ability where the task requires, but where possible the children study together. Our weekly schedule of classes has been designed also to enable further interaction across the entire school. All our years study the same subjects at the same time. This makes it possible, where it is deemed beneficial, that children across the school can come together to share a learning experience. Additionally, we regularly invite guest speakers to converse with the children, often from the older generation. Highschool children from our parish also visit the school as volunteers to teach a sport or lead some activity. All of this acts to create a more natural environment in which our students practice a greater range of social skills.

10. A visual School:

From the Montessori philosophy we have learnt the significance of data visualisation in the school space. The visuals that decorate our school are carefully selected to communicate complex data relationships and data-driven insights in a way that is easy to understand. Examples of these are large geographical maps and our history timeline. The artwork and books that we provide in our library also contribute to creating an educative environment.

Children learn the content that you teach them; but they also learn independently through casual observation and self-initiated exploration. Educators provide the content for this by providing appropriate environments. Data visualisations allow children to ponder complex subjects over time, deepening their understanding gradually by referring to the available information whenever they wish to.

From the Classical Model of Education, we have learnt the educative importance of beauty. Beautiful artwork and a library of high-quality books immerse children in a profitable environment. We create a space where children can learn for themselves, and we harness children’s natural tendency towards discovery.

Walking into our school you will notice the ‘monthly virtue board’. This is a large pin board with a Christian virtue written in large letter in its middle. Each month we focus on a different virtue. Paper and pins are provided, and children are encouraged to put up their thought about the particular virtue. They may write an example they experienced where this virtue was manifested, or they may write their definition about it, or even a question regarding it. Parents and teachers can also contribute. This interactive board invites the entire school into a conversation about the Christian virtues. It encourages our students, our parents, and our staff to think about the virtues.

Near this board you will also find the ‘saint of the day board’. This is a display that shows the date and tells everyone which saints are celebrated on that day. An icon of (some of) the daily saints is there together with their name and era. Students and teachers can refer to this board during daily prayers. You will also notice that pictures of the saints of the week are blu-tacked to our geographical map, showing where the saint lived. In our Lives of Saints workshops children keep a long cloth timeline onto which each week they plot (in their appropriate place) the saint they are studying. This gives children a visual overview of time and place. These are examples of practical ways of developing an understanding of history and geography.

11. A School rooted in Scotland

It has been said already that our school brings together families from an array of cultures. We celebrate this rich resource, but at the same time it is important that our children are growing up in Scotland. Scotland is our home and it thus the main country that we draw our school content from.

In Geography one of the two-year cycles is dedicated to Scottish and British geography; in History one of three-year cycles is dedicated to local history. The same emphasis is found in our Nature Studies where much focus is placed on British natural habitats and native species. Local saints are prioritised in our Lives of Saints workshops, Scottish dances and music have a primary place in our physical education and music classes and generally our study of culture begins here. Children learn to love where they are first. As CS Lewis has said: it is the person who loves their own shire who is able to appreciate the greatness of the rest of the world.

12. A Christian School

Overarching it all, Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School is a Christian school (obviously). We mention this point last, not because it is the least important. It is the most important point: in light of which everything else makes sense. We have left this point until the end of the outline because we want to express that everything we have said thus far constitutes a Christian education.

To the extent that we succeed in igniting wonder and gratitude in our students, our programme is a Christian one. Christian education is not just about explicit biblical content. It is about rejoicing in God’s creation and seeing the beauty of it all. It is learning what it means to be a person: about understanding our exulted place within God’s creation. A good education shows its students so much beauty that they desire more. Let us end the presentation of our school by quoting CS Lewis: ’If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world”.

Below you will find the schools weekly schedule. You will notice a structure: the first half of the day teaches children linguistic and numeracy skills. The second half of the day applies these skills to understanding the created world.


Click on any of the subject to find more details about how we teach it.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:45 – 9:00 Prayer and saint of the day Prayer and saint of the day Prayer and saint of the day Prayer and saint of the day Prayer and saint of the day
9:00 – 10:10 Maths
Textbook progression/maths games
Textbook progression/memory work
Textbook progression/maths history/philosophy of concepts
Textbook progression/memory work
Life of Saint workshop
10:10 – 10:25 Snack Snack Snack Snack Snack
10:25-11:00 English English English English Life of Saint workshop
11:00 –11:15 Handwriting/Writing Handwriting/Writing Handwriting/Writing Handwriting/Writing
11:15-11:25 Break Break Break Break Break
11:25 – 11:40 Story time Story time Story time Story time Art class (until 12:05)
11:40 – 11:55 Reading Reading Reading/Research clubs Reading/Book presentations
11:55 – 12:25 Physical Education Physical Education Physical Education Physical Education/ Juniors and seniors PC class
Physical Education/group games. (12:05 – 12:25)
12:25 – 12:45 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:45 – 13:05 Free play Free play Free play Free play Free play
13:05 – 13:25 Revision Revision Revision Revision
13:25 – 14:10 Geography/Nature Studies Music Foundations in Science Practical Problem Solving
14:10 – 14:15 Break Break Break Break
14:15 – 15:00 History Languages - Greek/Romanian/Russian as required Project work Languages - Greek/Romanian/Russian as required
15:00 – 15:10 Bible passage and closing prayer/prayer for others Bible passage and closing prayer/prayer for others Bible passage and closing prayer/prayer for others Bible passage and closing prayer/prayer for others

  1. For more on St. John Chrysostomos’ admonitions to parents see:,-1.&text=2.,speaks%20of%20it%20quite%20loudly., accessed December 2023↩︎

  2. If you want to know more about the important shifts that changed the purposes and practices of education an excellent critical essay was written by CS Lewis (forever seeing and predicting the true form of things before his time!). It is entitled The Abolition of Man. You can get this as a book or as a free pdf online. This is an excellent work (the best!) and we recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the importance of a good education. It is a very difficult text to read and it requires a lot of concentration to get through it. It is thoroughly worth it though, and you will find your efforts will bear much fruit.↩︎

  3. If you are interested to know more about how this shift has affected Scottish schools see: PISA 2022 in Scotland: declining attainment and growing social inequality. It is an article by Dr. Lindsay Paterson: a leading scholar in education and Professor Emeritus of Education Policy at the University of Edinburgh. Find his article here:↩︎

  4. Such as memorising and recalling knowledge.↩︎

  5. Asking how things work is a way of getting more detail about what. If a child asks how a lamp works for example, she wants to know what electricity is. This interest carries over into the Logic Stage.↩︎

  6. See our Foundations in Science plan for an example of this.↩︎

  7. Further down in this document you will find a description of how 7th year pupils study.↩︎

  8. It is interesting to note that the English word holy derives from ‘healthy and whole’. A holy person is one who realises the potential God has seeded in them, who is not broken and fragmented by sin.↩︎

  9. For a more details of the curriculum alignment look here.↩︎

  10. Unfortunately this is a widespread problem. If you want to know more details about the issue you can find countless articles about it by searching ‘boys underperform in schools’.↩︎

  11. If you are interested to know more about the problematic relationship between technology and the developing child, look at the research of Dr. Jonathan Haidt. You can watch a good introduction to his findings here: (a very interesting and worthwhile video to see!)↩︎

  12. At this point student are already reaping the benefits of the hard work they put in at the grammar stage. They are only able to use this more ‘mature’ method of study because they drilled their basic skills in reading and writing in the preceding years.↩︎

  13. This approach is inspired by the International Baccalaureate.↩︎

  14. Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church School Primary↩︎

  15. Parker, R., Thomsen B.S., and Berry, A. say this: “Our understanding that children learn through the natural inquiry process of play has a strong basis in research. Anthropologists, developmental psychologists and neuroscientists have studied and documented this phenomenon extensively (Whitebread et al., 2012). More than a century ago, Dewey (1910) made the connection between children’s natural experimentation in play and the scientific inquiry process. Vygotsky (1978) noted that play is hugely influential on child development in fostering speech development, cognitive processing, self-awareness and self-regulation. Neuroscientists have discovered that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is refined by play, and play stimulates the production of a protein responsible for the differentiation and growth of new neurons and synapses (Gordon et al., 2003). Conversely, play deprivation negatively affects brain development and problem-solving skills (Pellis et al., 2014). Play interventions are widely used as a treatment for children who struggle to develop socio-emotional skills including establishing positive peer relationships (Fantuzzo and Hampton, 2000).”

    The article that we quote from is entitled: Learning Through Play at School – A Framework for Policy and Practice. You can find it here:↩︎

  16. See the work of Dr. Jonathan Haidt mentioned in footnote no. 11.↩︎