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Place School Carlisle


The key to a thriving Garden Village

ST CUTHBERT'S GARDEN VILLAGE is the the largest development in the Governments Garden Village programme, bringing over 10,000 new homes to Carlisle, Cumbria.  You can find out more at  We have designed our first school as a direct response to the need for new school places that this development will create.  Our school will be an essential place-making component of the new community providing part of the infrastructure needed for the development to thrive.  Guiding principles of garden village design are closely aligned with the values and purpose of Place Schools Trust, and it is this synergy that makes St Cuthbert's Garden Village such an exciting prospect.  


OUR FOCUS is currently on finalising the Department for Education Free School bid, and making sure our school design meets the needs of the local community.  We would like to hear from potential partner organisations, businesses, professionals, parents, and community members who share our vision and want to join us on the journey.  While government timelines are subject to change due to the current pandemic, we anticipate having approval for Place School Carlisle towards the end of 2021, with the school fully open by 2025.


Place Schools Trust teamed up with the Innovation Unit to develop and evaluate a radically different school design process.  Our Carlisle specific Blue Print and Typical Day infographics are one of the outputs from this collaboration.  You can read more about our work together here.

Frequently asked questions

When and where will the first school open?

We are planning for our first school to be part of St Cuthbert’s Garden Village in Carlisle, Cumbria working towards full opening in 2025. You can read more here. We are passionate about the approach and purpose of Place Schools Trust and excited to scale our work in multiple areas. We are actively seeking new locations to begin our second school design and welcome contact from partners and stakeholders across the UK who are interested in working with us.

What ages do Place Schools cater for?

Our first school has been designed to grow into an all-through school for ages 5 to 16 years old, although it will open as a primary school for ages 5-11 in the first instance. A nursery will be included from the outset. We will respond to local need in deciding what ages future schools cater for.

Will you be Ofsted inspected?

Yes. Free Schools are subject to an Ofsted inspection within the first three years of opening.

Why are there no breaktimes shown on the schedule?

Our schools are built on teacher trust and autonomy so we have decided not to schedule breaktimes at a specific time. There may be times when children are deeply engrossed in a particular project and it's appropriate to take a break 10 minutes later one day and 20 minutes earlier the next. That said lunchtime will be a sociable experience and will fall between 12pm and 1pm for everyone who is on the school premises that day. We will be a Play Friendly School, with a clear play policy, and our staff will be supported with the appropriate professional development opportunities to support children to understand the importance of play and to enjoy and benefit from it.

Is Outdoor Learning part of the curriculum?

Yes. We are huge advocates of the value and benefits of outdoor learning, and our Trust members bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in this regard. In our schools, outdoor learning will be a normal and routine part of the curriculum and will be intrinsic to teaching and learning.

Will children learn about climate change and the environment?

Yes. This is a crucial part of the purpose of our schools, specified in the outcome’s framework. We know that drastic action is needed to change human behaviour so that the natural environment can begin to heal and recover from the damage already done. We are committed to being an enabling force for that change.

What is your approach to wellbeing?

We believe that wellbeing, resilience and the ability to think with clarity in any circumstance are vital to creating successful learning environments, and essential for happy, caring and fulfilling lives for our students, staff, and communities. Through dedicated and ongoing whole staff development, and daily time set aside for children to explore and understand how our minds affect everything we do and everything we experience in life, we are putting wellbeing at the very forefront of school life. Our approach is rooted in a strength based philosophy and we start with the premise that everyone has good wellbeing and resillience within them. This premise feeds our culture, guides a whole-school language, and, as an important part of our innovation as a school it will be a major focus of practice based research. In addition to the above, we have designed teaching, learning and infrastructure to embrace other factors that we know are good for health and wellbeing such as being physical activity, relationships, nature connectedness, adventure, community, family and challenge.

How do you provide for children that have special educational needs?

We are designing schools to provide inclusive and equitable environments to meet the needs of all children. Our schools will have dedicated Special Educational Needs professionals to develop and coordinate teaching and learning. We are particularly excited to include Project Based Learning and Outdoor Learning in our school design as there is increasing evidence that the flexiblity and practicality of these two pedagogies is often better suited to some children with special educational needs. At all times we will adhere to the UK Government SEND Code of Practice 0-25. As we work to understand the needs of the children in our schools we will seek specific advice, guidance and partnerships to ensure we are designing to meet that need.

Will you teach the National Curriculum?

Yes. All our discrete and project based teaching will be carefully mapped to the National Curriculum as well as to the skills and competencies that will support children to achieve in the Place Schools Outcome's framework.

What is project based learning?

Cross Curricular Project Based Learning (PBL) focuses on teaching a range of subjects through a particular topic or project. This is as opposed to 'discrete teaching' where students are taught, for example, Maths in a single focused Maths lesson. The definition we use, comes from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation: Work That Matters publication:- ‘Project-based learning’ refers to students designing, planning, and carrying out an extended project that produces a publicly-exhibited output such as a product, publication, or presentation. Projects can be short or long, complex or simple, and in our school will be based on a skills map linked to the National Curriculum. PBL is an exciting way to connect our children with real and purposeful learning, often taking place within their local and wider community. No matter what the age, PBL always finishes in some kind of exhibition or presentation and children have to get there work to an extremely high standard to share with peers, family, community and businesses. The cross-curricular nature of PBL allows learners to recognise natural connections between separate subjects and brings together concepts and skills under one theme or topic. With a growing body of supporting evidence, PBL is becoming an increasingly popular way to teach in the UK, and is already well established in other parts of the world.

What do you mean by discrete teaching?

This refers to the separate teaching of specific subjects, as opposed to the cross curriculular approach used in Project Based Learning. We recognise that each approach has a value in different circumstances and we will retain the freedom to adopt a subject specific approach to teaching in response to need.

Are there any other schools like Place Schools?

Our schools are designed from the substantial experiences of our team, research and best practice, and a comprehensive review of the the national and international landscape for innovation in schools. We worked closely with the Innovation Unit during our design process and benefited greatly from their expertise in this area.

In the UK, you may wish to look at XP Trust, and Schools 21 as two examples of schools that are successfully using Project Based Learning. And the UK based Relational Schools Foundation are another inspiration, among so many others.

Regarding our approach to wellbeing, resillience and clarity of mind, we believe we are the first brand new school putting this approach at the heart of our design. There are other organisations who are successfully working with established schools as part of intervention work for mental health and wellbeing challenges with two of the most established in the UK being iHeart Principles and Anderson Wellbeing.

How can I contact you?

We would love to hear from you. Please use the Contact Us form on this website.

What sport and P.E will you do?

As well as meeting the physical education criteria of the National Curriculum our school will be interconnected with other schools and community groups for sport and physical activity participation. One of the outcomes we seek for our children is that they know how to look after their own physical and mental wellbeing, and understanding how to keep fit and healthy. Our end-of-day ‘electives’ programme will be carefully designed to build on activities that students have experienced during the day, and to connect them with opportunities within their community. Through this approach we hope to create pathways for children to pursue things they enjoy and that interest them.