The most interesting education systems across the globe

COVID-19 and the endless ways it has altered our everyday lives has had many of us, across various sectors, challenging the status quo and that all too common ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ attitude. This is especially so in the education sector.

Early learning and day care facilities, schools, colleges, universities and other education providers have had to think outside the box to ensure our children and students are getting the education they deserve and/or have paid for. We thought it would be interesting to look at some of the more out-there schooling models adopted around the world. Could some of these unconventional methods be adopted on a more widespread basis? Only time will tell.

Outdoor learning

In addition to being great for the mental health and wellbeing of our young students, outdoor spaces are more COVID-safe than those indoors. It certainly could be worth exploring more outdoor activities for pupils going forward. These schools do just that, to the extreme. 

1. Green School

This very unconventional school of 300 students ranging from pre- kindergarten to grade 12 in Bali, and now a range of other locations including Mexico and New Zealand, is all about hands-on learning in a natural environment. The school is wall-less and offers subjects that teach respect for the natural world and environment. The curriculum emphasises entrepreneurial learning and the entire campus, amazingly, is made entirely from sustainably harvested bamboo. 


2. Forest School

Born in Scandinavia, forest school is an outdoor education delivery model in which students visit natural spaces to learn personal, social and technical skills. It focuses on the child’s wellbeing and holistic development. Nowadays, there are forest schools across the globe including here in the UK. In the UK, generally, the model involves a once or more weekly outing to the forest where students’ personal development is followed by a Forest School Leader/Practitioner.

3. Nature-Friendly Schools

In 2019, The Wildlife Trusts announced the beginning of a new and ground-breaking programme, ‘Nature-Friendly Schools’, to bring thousands of children closer to nature. Teachers receive training to link outdoor learning to the national curriculum, with students visiting local nature reserves or parks. They have the opportunity to experience wildlife on their doorstep through new nature areas in school grounds. The programme is working in partnership with over 300 schools in England which have the highest proportions of disadvantaged pupils (primary, secondary, special schools and alternative provision).

Alternate ‘school’ models

Just as we as adults are exploring new ways of working and organisations are placing greater emphasis on work-life balance and the mental wellbeing of employees, we need to be considering the same for our kids. Newer models of education embracing a more holistic approach could be the answer. 

Located in San Francisco, California, Brightworks’ motto is ‘everything is interesting’. The educational centre aims to bring together the learning that happens at school, work and in the world to teach in a more holistic and exciting way. Mixed-age groups are guided by a ‘collaborator’ and education focuses on exploration, expression and exposition. As such, the model is diverse and creative, focusing on depth of knowledge, not breadth. Brightworks is based in a 9,000 square foot warehouse, which includes an art studio and a fabrication lab, where students are encouraged to self-direct their education.


This school literally lets kids do what they want. As the pupils grow and develop, the school helps them figure out what professional they may like to pursue and each students’ curriculum is developed around that. There are 55 branches of the school across the US.

In this tech-focused facility, students don’t have books, simply computers. Note-taking app OneNote is used and each class has computerised smart boards. The school also use digital lockers and ID cards.

Unusual designs

Design and architectural solutions don’t just make for stimulating learning environments but can create safer, more hygienic spaces too.

1. The Cubical School (Ørestad Gymnasium), Denmark

This visually spectacular school is designed to encourage creative thinking. Sections called ‘drums’ (circular areas) allow students to ‘think’ and work independently. There are also futurist ‘classrooms’ and plenty of open spaces. The idea is ‘student activated teaching’ and incredibly, this is a state-funded public project.

2. School designed by kids, Germany

Erika Mann Elementary School in Berlin, Germany was designed for children by children along with the help of Baupiloten, a group of architecture students. Only photographs can do this truly creative space justice!

3. Hellerup Skole, Denmark

This comprehensive (k-9) school is also an architectural feat. Students romp and play around the school in their ‘inside shoes’ among the many visually enticing staircases, plateaux, balconies and bridges. Children are encouraged to sit, jump around, stand and move around. Again, the idea is that innovative architecture will result in more creative learning outcomes.

4. The Carpe Diem School, Ohio

Instead of classrooms, this school has 300 cubicles – one for each student from ages 3-12 – who are encouraged to learn on their own. In case of any doubts, there are instructors to help them out. This definitely could work in the new COVID-era.

While the COVID-19 pandemic no doubt poses challenges for parents, students, teachers and the education system as a whole, it also offers an opportunity for us to reimagine education and develop ways to educate current and future generations in a way that is much more flexible and personalised than ever before. It’s also a promising time for both the private and public sectors who will need to closely work together to develop the digital and more traditional solutions required to make learning, in the new climate, work.


Lee Tobin, Marketing Expert

Lee is a professional storyteller. She uses a storybook approach to emotively communicate your organisation’s core messages to your target audience. She especially loves social media and believes that comms should always be bold.