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Outdoor adventure at WHIS


Wotton House International School is based in the heart of Gloucester and is part of the International Village Education group. Our mission is to actively help children develop the confidence, skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the modern world.

Our educational ethos is encapsulated in the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” - supporting your children to excel in the context of their local, national and global communities. This ethos incorporates three, related, ideas:


Education is not just the responsibility of the teacher but also of the wider community; children today grow up in an unregulated global village and need guidance more than ever to navigate it safely


Being ‘educated’ has many facets and angles, and that each child has many different gifts, not all of which are catered for by traditional in-a-box classroom learning

To achieve this vision, we integrate three key elements into the school:

  • a robust, inquiry-based, knowledge curriculum - we teach the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate with the option to sit International GCSEs in years 10 and 11

  • integrated technology for learning

  • outdoor education as an integral part of each child’s school experience, through our partner site The Wilderness Centre.


Our school must explicitly provide some networks of support, connections and contacts; it is not enough to send a child into the world with nothing but certificates under their arm

ib Middle Years Programme
Cambridge IGCSE logo

Our aims, therefore, are to create children who have learned:

  • a sense of their place in their community and an understanding of their responsibilities within their world

  • a spirit of infectious enthusiasm for learning, through our in-school and outdoor learning activities

  • qualities including tolerance, resilience, grit, leadership, courage, patience, empathy and emotional intelligence

  • key cognitive skills of critical thinking, argumentation, logic, hypothesis testing, evidence evaluation and problem solving

  Interested? We'd love to hear from you. To find out more just contact us  

Ethos and Aims

Independent schools are required by law to have a Statement of Ethos and Aims (ISS 32(2)(d)). This is nonsense surely, unless by 'ethos' is meant something like  'religious or other belief'? Ethos in a school is not something that can be explicitly 'statemented'; it is the underlying and intangible 'character' or 'habits', the culture and atmosphere of a school.

We hope and believe that all stakeholders in the school recognise and appreciate the atmosphere of mutual respect, kindness and encouragement, laughter and enthusiasm.

We can contribute to and steer the culture of the school by outlining and promoting our Goals and we do this through these three pairs of statements: Mission and Motto; Vision and Values; Aims and Objectives. 


In an age out of harmony we are building a diverse community of enthusiastic, questioning learners who develop Head, Heart and Hands through real-world learning to the betterment of Humanitas, or society as a whole. We value equally the three 'real-worlds': digital, cultural and natural.

Our inspiration is Steve Jobs (1998): “Think different. Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently - they're not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”



Because it takes an international village to raise global and grounded citizens, we want to become the flagship of an international network of progressive, human-scale, change-making schools which contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals by empowering students through multidimensional, strengths-led learning to better themselves in order to better their communities. 

We have no single word for this concept in English but in Ancient Greece it was called “Paidea”; in Enlightenment Germany it was called “Bildung”. The closest modern equivalent is the Danish concept of “Dannelse” which means creating active and aware citizens through educating head, heart and hands



To achieve our vision we have set ourselves these aims for the school:

  • To develop a multidimensional curriculum to prepare and safeguard our students for a radically different future world with unprecedented challenges for both mental and physical wellbeing.

  • To help families build resilient, healthy, altruistic children who will have a strong sense of the meaning and value of their lives.

  • To become part of a network of schools and colleges which values freedom, non-linearity and creativity - everything which distinguishes human from machine - but also respects traditions and the central importance of individual development as contributing to the greater goal of service to the community. 

  • To provide a safe, welcoming and stimulating environment for the non-conformists, the free thinkers, the heretics, the contrarians, those who think differently. They will change the world.



"Better ourselves to better our worlds"


"pro nobis pro bono"


We believe that contemporary education needs to be:

  • Wholistic: rounded and multi-dimensional

  • International: global in outlook, diverse and rich

  • Sustainable: grounded in the earth and rooted in our physical being

  • Creative: able to dream and invent new solutions


  1. To be the first-choice school in the region for international families

  2. To grow to 120 students

  3. To open a sixth-form college

  4. To be rated consistently good or better by the inspectorates

  5. To forge strong international connections with other IB schools

Four Pillars

This section looks at the Four Pillars which represent our deepest values, our non-negotiables, our principles. Many different organisations use a Four Quadrant model; the best known logo which uses four squares is Microsoft but very few people know what each square represents. By comparison the pentacostal FourSquare Church has a much more informational logo.

The word "Foursquare" resonates with positive overtones of firm, sturdy, bold, plainspeaking, forthright. These are all valuable qualities but they definitely lack subtlety. Nevertheless at the stage of outlining fundamental principles the subtleties can wait. Four legs are strong and useful, as Animal Farm famously says: "Four legs good, two legs bad".








This characterisation is not unique to us, of course. For example The Asha Centre, which is an adult education centre in the Forest of Dean, close to The Wilderness, identifies the same 'four pillars':


  1. Learning through Head, Heart and Hands

  2. Fostering a truly human global community.

  3. Harnessing the power of Nature to learn and heal.

  4. Nurturing creativity & innovation through the Arts.


It is an easy step to derive from the four fundamentals an acronym WHISC which echoes very strongly our name: Wotton House International SChool.


We deliberately use the spelling Wholistic rather than Holistic because the two spellings are diverging to become two different words with slightly different meanings. 

  1. Wholistic means taking into account every aspect, or facet, of a person, including body, mind and soul - this is what is meant by an education being 'well-rounded'. The word derives from Old English hal meaning 'uninjured or sound' ie hale and healthy.

  2. This is not quite the same as Holistic which means being more concerned with the wholes than with the constituent parts - this is what is meant by an education being 'child-centred'. 'Holistic' was invented by Jan Smuts in 1926 from the Greek holos meaning whole or entire.




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