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A week in the life of Meadowbrook Montessori school, Berkshire

Parents and children held a week-long party to celebrate this school's 10th birthday. Jugglers and clowns visited the school, the children had a "make a beach" day when they wore swimming costumes, and the parents held a ceilidh. The school was built on farm land and originally had lots of animals, such as hens, rabbits and guinea pigs, though now it's down to just two goats. The natural world plays a big part in the curriculum and there is a teacher for art and country living, Trisha MacGregor, who teaches such things as jam and rug making. This summer, the children made two large tepees, each able to accommodate 20 people, from living willow. They planted the willow in a circle then wove the branches together as they grew. The tpees will finally be completed with next spring's new shoots. The emphasis in Montessori schools is on letting the child lead, developing a positive self-image and fulfilling his or her potential. The 100 three to 11-year-olds are taught in small classes of eight to 14; they follow the national curriculum as well as a Montessori one.

Snaps by Trisha MacGregor

Children working on a picture project with a local artist

Entering into the party spirit for the 10th birthday

Donning home-made masks for 'African Day'

Grow your own: a tepee under construction

Making hay with one of the school goats

Pretend you're at the seaside: the 'beach party'

Top form: learning to be a circus performer

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