Education is only a ladder to gather fruit from the tree of knowledge, not the fruit itself.”
~ Albert Einstein

We are passionate about education, democracy and self-directed learning.

We are part of a movement towards a very different model of education, where students have an equal part in the democratic running of the school itself and where they decide what, when and how they learn.

As your tree grows, it will enable WCSS to also to grow to its fullest potential, fulfilling the schools green ethic and supporting the environment.

West Cork Sudbury School (WCSS)

About our democratic school

WCSS is a Democratic School of Self-Directed Learning – part of a movement towards a very different model of education, where students have an equal part in the democratic running of the school itself and where they decide what, when and how they learn.

We hope that this campaign will give you a tangible option to help the Irish environment and support our growing school.

From Our Core Values

We believe that our planet and local environment should be considered and respected in the decisions we make in the school, and therefore we lead as an example by raising awareness of environmentally friendly options; outline and argue choices for conscious decisions in the running of WCSS, considering bio-diversity, climate change, social justice and ecological integrity.”

We Need Your Support

The Educational Provision at WCSS is in line with Section 14 of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, assessed by Tusla’s Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service.

However, as we don’t follow the national curriculum, we don’t receive any government funding. As a result, WCSS is entirely self-funded.

Proceeds from tree-planting will help us grow in a sustainable & predictable way and support us in doing our best for a democratic education.

The Process

How Everyone is involved.

The School Meeting

The Plant a Tree, Grow a School campaign was conceived of and initiated during the weekly school meetings which involve all students and staff – and it will continue to evolve in the same process.

Creating a Forest

Your tree will be planted by students, parents and staff.

Democratic Education

The new forest development will provide educational opportunities for interested students, both onsite and in the school itself.

Frequently asked questions

Or contact us at any time
What is a Sudbury School?

The first Sudbury School, the Sudbury Valley School, was founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts in the Sudbury Valley, by a college professor named Daniel Greenberg; who was troubled by his students lack of self-motivation.

There are two Sudbury Schools already established in Ireland.  Wicklow Democratic School has been running since September 2016 and  Sligo Sudbury School has been open since September 2018. There are many other start-up groups hoping to open across the country which some of our founding members got the chance to meet at the  Democratic Education Ireland Conference.

Sudbury schools are based on (or follow the philosophy of) self-directed learning; freedom; responsibility; democratic principles and are usually for ages 5-18 years old. There is free age-mixing and no government curriculum. The students and staff have an equal say in the rules and regulations of the school and as to what happens in any given day. These rules are made in a weekly meeting. At WCSS we use the word agreement rather than rule to point out that the community came to an agreement rather than a rule was imposed.

Sudbury schools work on trust and believe that each individual has a to learn; each with their own unique capabilities and intelligence. At Sudbury, instead of teachers, there is ‘staff’ which support and enable the student to explore their own learning process and to connect and engage with the community.

Find out more about  self-directed learning here.

Why democratic?

A democratic process of running a school, allows all those involved, to be a part of its success and to experience the empowerment of being heard and taken seriously.

A democratic school environment protects the rights of all individuals in the school, empowers those involved and fosters a sense of purpose, belonging and competence. The Sudbury environment allows students the realisation of their talents and potential, and also cultivates leadership, problem-solving, goal setting, and self-responsibility.

Is there a curriculum?

No. The Sudbury model is completely student-led and based on self-directed learning.

The staff, called facilitators, are there to support the children in their undertakings and learning-processes, respecting their needs for time, structure and involvement.

How do children learn if there is no curriculum, and no one tells them what to do or learn?”

We believe everyone has unique abilities, instincts and self-determination which will be nurtured, supported and respected in our school. We believe students will flourish when given the space, resources and support to follow their passions at their own pace and in their own unique way. We believe children and teenagers should have the freedom to make choices, with an understanding of the responsibilities that this entails. That way they take ownership of their education, enabling them to become engaged, conscious and self-motivated members of their communities.

Our current education system was designed to short-circuit these instincts, which might have made sense at one point in history. However, at present in a world of accelerated change alternative models to traditional schooling are becoming more important and demanded. Our community will provide your child with the time and space to get back in touch with their own desire to learn without being told to do so.

Sudbury schools foster a students’s internal motivation, which is a much more powerful driver to learning than external motivation.

How will children know what they like if they are not exposed to it (with classes, etc.)?

We live in the information age, where knowledge is available at your fingertips. For this reason, when you can follow your interests exposure is not an issue. Furthermore, because students are free to explore and interact with students and adults of all ages all day long, they are exposed to a wide variety of topics, more than they would typically get in an environment where only one person is delivering the curriculum. Students in Sudbury schools don’t look at learning as a set of fixed subjects to be mastered. Instead they follow their curiosities and interests, which are not limited to a curriculum.

Please, also see our  recommended resources for more information on that topic.

What if my child just wants to play all day?

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

We believe in the importance of play, and that through free age mixing students may develop social skills and empathy. Most children show an intense need to play in their earliest years of development, at a time when they are learning the most, and at the fastest rate, than at any other point in their life. Not only do children make meaning and construct models of the world through play, they also practice their physical, intellectual, social, and emotional skills.

Students at Sudbury schools spend a lot of time playing. A common misconception is that play is mindless activity; It is not! Curiosity and play propel each other, they both involve exploration of the unknown. The means by which people advance is through investigation and manipulation of that which is not yet known and as such play is key to a human’s learning and understanding of their world.

Peter Gray (Ph.D.) is an evolutionary psychologist who’s child was a student at the original  Sudbury Valley School, where he became very intersted in the importance of play and has since done extensive research on this topic.

For more info see:  Play is Education &  Blog

Please, also see our  recommended resources for more information on that topic.

Where can I find out more?

Check out  our webpages and visit our comprehensive  FAQs.