Monday 16 September 2019

Numbers double at school where kids take charge


(stock pic)
(stock pic)

Louise Walsh

It is the school where students have complete independence to decide their own education - and it has more than doubled its numbers after the first year.

The Sudbury School in Calry, Co Sligo, is preparing to open for its second year with a rise from 15 students to 32, some of whom have relocated from all over the world.

At least seven other democratic education schools are in the start-up phase around the country and the first Democratic Education Ireland Conference is planned for November.

The ethos that students decide themselves what to do with their time means that they can spend the day climbing trees, reading, researching for a project or surfing their tablets - it's purely their own choice.

The students, who range from five to 18 years old, can start any time between 8.30am and 10.30am and leave at any stage between 2.30pm and 4.30pm at the school which places students and staff on equal footing in a direct democracy.

Last year, families relocated to Sligo from Dublin and Meath as well as moving home from Portugal and Malta to enlist their children in the school.

This year, families have moved into the area from England, Scotland and Germany for the start of the school year.

"It's been an amazing year for us. It's a school where the children have their own voice, their own choice and their own opportunities to follow their own interests and learning pursuits," says co-founder Gayle Nagle.

"There has been a lot of playing outside and baking and woodwork as well as independent study. Students have also set up their own clubs for particular interests such as philosophy or English. They learn themselves about their own strengths and weaknesses and about making their own decisions. They all learn at their own pace."

Ms Gayle added that the concept is growing across the country. "There is already a school up and running in Wicklow and there are start-up planning groups in north Dublin, three in Cork, Galway, Leitrim and East Clare."

Irish Independent

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