5 Schools that provide holistic student environments

Our knowledge regarding childhood development is now constantly expanding, and with it goes our teaching methodologies. Today, children and teachers are looking to experience more from their years in education, seeking the skills that not only prepare them for exam week but for life after graduation.

Students want the freedom to excel in the areas for which they have passion and interest, while parents and children alike are seeking an education that’s more in tune with each child’s unique needs and skill.

The holistic approach is built on this idea that children can be taught in a more natural and engaging way, inspiring a love of learning that lasts their whole life long.

Image courtesy of the International School of Indiana

While maintaining a solid base in core subjects – such as mathematics, literature, and science – holistic education should motivate students to learn naturally through curiosity and creativity. It is also adapted to fit each child’s unique abilities and interests, a far cry from the standardised tests that ran through yesteryear.

As a result of this approach, children often develop greater confidence in their abilities while gaining crucial communication and social skills needed for a successful career in almost any field.

In the best examples of this method, children are no longer confined to the classroom, but out in the community, working in business, travelling the world, and learning the far-reaching value of creative expression. This way, students are exposed to a world of opportunity and knowledge that once would have been closed off.

This valuable approach is starting to catch on in schools around the world as educators and parents witness tangible student developments.

Here are 5 Schools that embrace the holistic education…


A global approach and cultural immersion is central to the ethos of ISI, setting it apart from other intuitions, and making it an ideal international student destination. Over 50 nationalities make up the faculty and student body, and this rich ‘mosaic’ of cultures ensures that graduates are capable in applying their knowledge, not only across disciplines, but over cultural and linguistic barriers.

Named one of the top high schools in America by the Washington Post, ISI’s combination of hands-on learning and a tight-knit community undoubtedly speaks for itself. Small class sizes of only nine students to each teacher guarantees pupils get the attentive focus needed to ensure success.

An equal amount of emphasis is placed on out-of-the-classroom learning via the School’s Creativity, Activity, Service initiative, which sees students tackle each element through experiential learning. Whether it’s volunteering in the community, attending an art show or running a marathon, ISI challenges students to define their personal journey of self-discovery while combining classroom learning with action.

Nowhere is this better showcased than through ISI’s exchange trips, where students can immerse themselves in the culture of their chosen foreign language. These trips not only give them the chance to immerse themselves in the language and test their expertise, but expands their impression of the world and moulds them into confident world citizens.


Encouraging the individual aspirations of each student is central to the curriculum at this first-rate all-girls school. Emma Willard rewards intellectual risk-taking and puts girls in the driving seat when it comes to developing their minds, guiding them to find the best academic path for their learning needs.

This approach to personal study allows students to pursue their passions and not be held back by traditional classroom learning. Whether it’s volunteering with charities, gaining hands-on experience working in research labs, spending a semester learning abroad or otherwise serving as a government apprentice, Emma Willard encourages students to hit it full throttle, recognising the intrinsic value that comes with learning-by-doing.

Girls are supported in their academic and career exploration by dedicated and passionate faculty who are committed to helping students find their path in life. This, teamed with the school’s world-class facilities, means students here are sure to reach their goals.


Invested, motivated and engaged young leaders are what Winchendon strives to nurture, encouraged by interactive learning that extends well beyond the conventional classroom and into the real-world environment.

Winchendon is a School that appreciates how problems are rarely solved within a single discipline, developing a more integrated approach to education through its Global Dynamics curriculum. By pulling together subjects like history, economics and political science, students are tasked with looking at solutions for some of the world’s big issues, including conflict in the Middle East.

A student-driven teaching and learning strategy is also implemented in the Service Learning initiative in which students engage with local community groups to understand, research and implement solutions to real-world issues facing society. The programme fosters students’ sense of resilience, empathy, courage and responsibility, while also teaching them important lessons about conducting business is the modern world.

This ethos of professional work is extended in Winchendon’s Collaborative Learning programme, encouraging students to actively pursue areas of personal relevance or interest, while developing professional networks, and connecting with mentors in their preferred field.


Uppingham embraces the holistic approach to education and believes each student should be given the opportunity to find activities in which they excel.As an elite boarding school, Uppingham ensures students are engaged in the classroom and during their free time with a wealth of activities designed to develop a wide range of skills and abilities. On top of a thriving dramatic community, sporting tours, and charity work, students can also contribute to the School and the wider community through Armed Service activities by participating in the Combined Cadet Force. This develops the students’ powers of leadership, initiative and independence through a range of challenging activities.

As well as fantastic academics, Uppingham teaches students to give back to those less fortunate by engaging in Community Service. Activities such as visiting elderly people, working in local schools and helping with Riding for the Disabled, teach students the value of compassion.

In addition to the more traditional trips, students also have the opportunity to go on one of Uppingham’s famous overseas expeditions, the most recent being to Jordan – cycling from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.


Ellesmere is a school that inspires students to show commitment and enthusiasm in an area where they can nurture their skills and thrive. The spiritual and creative health of their community, alongside academic achievement, is of the utmost importance, evident in the broad range of pursuits aimed at broadening students’ life experience.

The School’s busy artistic calendar allows every student to integrate with a broad range of ages and social groups to create plays, concerts and exhibitions across a range of disciplines. This passion for performance and student integration is driven by the School’s Artsmark programme that also takes the Arts to the community by touring and hosting events organised and choreographed by students.

Here, pupils also work with global communities during trips to Tanzania, working to improve the environment and the facilities for young children as part of the Monduli Green Project.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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