The school, when you fi rst walk up to it with your child at your side, looks both familiar to and different from the schools of your own childhood. There are small groups of children playing around outside, clusters of adults talking, and staff welcoming visitors. You note, however, that there is a real mix of ages here, from some very young primary-age children like your own still holding their parents’ hands, to teenagers intently playing some sort of game in a corner, to what look like a couple of centenarians sitting and talking purposefully together at a table outside a coffee bar. Indeed, when you look round, you realize the courtyard you are standing in feels more like a public square or a city market than a school. It has this feel not only because all human life seems to be there, but because around the edges of the courtyard are workshops and businesses, and a cafe spilling out onto groups of chairs and tables where people are talking, working and playing.