The Learning Atmosphere
The students decide on and evaluate their own path of learning and define their own goals.
The school is a place for self-initiated and self-directed learning at all age levels. We want to create a safe and enjoyable environment where learning can happen in an inspiring surrounding which fosters the children’s natural curiosity. In order for the students to be able to be totally responsible for their education, they must have, or at least share, the responsibility for creating their learning environment. Students at our school are free to determine how the spend their time each day, they are not limited to a classroom where an adult tells them what they have to learn. They might work on an art project, play sports, cook, dance, read, talk to other students or staff, build a fort, go to the local library, watch birds, do a science experiment, climb a tree, write a story, visit a museum, play a computer game, or work with a facilitator. When students decide they want to learn something new, whether it is an academic subject or not, they either ask a staff member for help, ask another student, or simply learn it on their own with the help of books, material and online resources
School Meeting and democratic structure
This is the heart of the school. We have chosen to use the Sudbury School model as the starting point for the schools democratic structure.
- The School Meeting is made up of all the students and staff members.
- The School Meeting decides on all matters concerning the school and meets twice weekly.
- Every School Meeting member has one equal vote.
- Any member can add a proposal, an announcement or a topic for discussion to the agenda which will be posted on the notice board.
- The meeting is led by an elected chair (student or staff) and an elected secretary keeps records.
- A simple majority is required for a proposal to pass.
- A Law Book contains the school’s rules.
Clerks, Committees and Clubs
These are set up to address specific issues to do with the running of the school, be they of administrative, procedural nature or for organising activities and special interest groups within the community. They are answerable to the School Meeting but work independently.
- Termly elected Clerks look after Attendance, Admissions, Cleaning, School Kitty, Law Book etc.
- Committees are set up by the School Meeting to deal with ongoing issues such as Finance, Welfare, Building Maintenance, Staffing, Library etc.
- Clubs may be set up if students are interested in a topic to study, i.e. Music, Art, Sports, Gardening etc. The School Meeting can divert funding to a club to spend on facilities, equipment, teachers etc.
Mediation and Judicial Committee
When problems and conflicts arise, we use mediation and The Justice Committee (JC) to find solutions. Mediation sessions are held daily as needed and are facilitated by a team of School Meeting members who have received relevant training. Any student or staff member can request mediation with any other student or staff member. The mediation process is inspired by Restorative Practise and Nonviolent Communication (NVC). When mediation doesn’t solve the problem, the issue may be referred to JC. JC meetings are held daily or as needed and are comprised of 2 elected JC Clerks, 1 staff member and two peers (peer duty taken in turns). Every student contributes to the process of the JC throughout the year. The JC helps facilitate conversation and find solutions. As Sudbury Valley School founder, Daniel Greenberg, says: “Peer justice is amazingly effective.”
Wicklow Sudbury School is a registered Irish charity (no. 20151263) and governed as a Company Limited by Guarantee.
The school receives no state funding at this time. Wicklow Sudbury School is self-funded (school fees), and all other income is created through fundraising activities and by donations. Please check our page ‘Admissions’ for details on the fees.
Age of students
We will accept children aged 6 to 18.
Mixed-age learning is something that came naturally to our ancestors but must be rediscovered in modern education. Communication, play and sharing experiences in an age-mixed setting is an essential part of the culture at our school. There are consistent social and intellectual benefits for the community if students can learn from interacting with others who are older and younger than themselves.
For the children to explore self-directed development it is important that parents trust in their children’s ability to follow their natural urge to figure out, explore and create.
Communication and co-operation between school and parents is important. At least twice a year, parents, students and teachers meet to discuss and review the process. On request, a meeting can be held at any time during the year.
The school staff are there to look after the physical environment, take care of administration and support the learning of the children. Depending on the wishes and needs of the students and the knowledge and skills in the staff we may look for facilitators from various fields to come in and share their skills and knowledge.
We may bring in skilled people, with or without educational background, to run classes, workshops and seminars if so requested by the children. When asked, staff members will help children in their explorations in a non-judgemental, supportive capacity. They bring to the community their experiences, wisdom and commitment to the school’s ethos and students.
All staff and facilitators are Garda vetted, fully dedicated to and comply with the school’s ethos.
The school was founded by a group of parents who began meeting in early 2015 with the intention to open a democratic school in September 2016. We were joined in early 2016 by Aaron Keohane, a former staff at Summerhill and founder of the English language Paris Sudbury School.
The founder members were Ciara Brehony, Jackie Spillane, Carol Kim (retired from committee in spring 2016), Sonja Lüscher Keogh, Mark Keogh, Rick Mettler and Aaron Keohane (joined in early 2016).
Ciara, Sonja, Rick and Aaron along with Kevin McLoughlin and Bernard Moran became the first staff members in September 2016.