The institution of Gandhigram started with a Basic School, based on the Nai Talim Principles. Started in 1947, it was then known as the Basic School. This school was for children up to the age of 10, i.e., till about present 5th standard. The basic Principles were that the child will learn from his natural environment, social environment and craft. Accordingly, the school primarily pursues craft, agriculture, weaving and spinning.
In 1952, the senior basic school, i.e., 6-8th Standards were started, and subsequently 9th, to 11th (Post Basic School) were also included. The original Basic School was situated in the Gandhigram campus itself. When the Senior Basic School was started, the TVS family donated 15 acres of land to the school. The entire school was then shifted to its present campus about 1k.m. from the Gandhigram main campus. These grounds / gardens were called Thambithottam (Thambi Gardens) in honour of one of the grandsons of Dr. T.V. Sundaram Iyengar. Hence the school also acquired the name.
The examinations in the Basic school were set by a committee which comprised of the Director of the Education Department, some senior staff members of the Post Basic School and other educationists. The students were then given a post basic school leaving Certificate. The problem was that this certificate was not recognized by any colleges and universities anywhere. Hence the Gandhigram Rural Institute was started in 1956, to take the students from the Post Basic School.
This still could not work to everyone’s satisfaction. In 70s students appeared for the SSLC Examination of the State Board so that they can be integrated into the mainstream. With this difficult situations arose since working completely according to the Nai Talim proved to be difficult. Teaching started to be geared towards the SSLC exam. Even so, the basic methods, activities etc. continued.
In 1978, it became a full-fledged Higher Secondary School. Today, there is one section in all classes which is English Medium. The rest follows the Tamil Medium. There are about 1203 students enrolled during 2010-11. The teaching staff strength is 35 and 4 non-teaching staff. Three management staff are also helping in teaching. Most of the students are from the surrounding villages. The schools tries to inculcate Gandhian thought and ideas like dignity of labour, simple living and high thinking in the students through all their activities and programmes. They are encouraged to do community work and be as self-reliant as possible.
Under the Village self sufficiency scheme, school buildings and other facilities like separate toilets for staff have been constructed. The school is in need of support for the construction of an auditorium and for computer equipment.