In this new school in Sligo children teach themselves (and families are flocking to enroll their kids there) 4 years ago

In this new school in Sligo children teach themselves (and families are flocking to enroll their kids there)

If you are looking for a learning experience and education that offers something a little bit different, then you might want to look into making the move to Co. Sligo.

In September, a brand new school of 'self-directed learning' will open, and more than 20 children have been enrolled already, with families relocating from all over the country, as well as coming home from overseas to have their children experience this type of education.

According to, students from 5-18 years of age will have complete independence in their own education in the newly established Sudbury School, which places students and staff on an equal footing in a direct democracy.

The ethos, that students decide themselves what to do with their time, means that the children can spend the day climbing trees, reading or on their tablets - it is purely their own choice. Under the system, each student develops their own interests at their own ability and pace, with the help of staff, fellow students, and visiting tutors.

The community-based project will have flexible starting hours, where students can arrive anytime between 8.30-10.30am and leave anytime between 2.30-4.30pm.

The women behind the Sudbury School are Maura Duignan and Gayle Nagle, both mothers who have been homeschooling their own children but liked the idea of a more social setting for their kids to meet others while continuing to follow their own pursuits.



"Maura and I met through the home-education network," Nagle explains. "We had both been homeschooling for a number of years but liked the idea of allowing children the freedom to educate in their own way and pace in a setting with other students."


Nagle, who herself has a background in education, explains that while not against the current system at all, herself and Duignan just feel that mainstream education is successful for some children but not for others.

"I think someone once said that in mainstream education, 30% thrive, 30% survive and 30% fail. Sometimes the one size fits all just doesn't work and we felt that there is an alternative out there. The Sudbury School is very much inspired by children and by passionate adults who are there to help on request. It's founded on freedom, trust, respect and responsibility."

According to the founders, there will be no imposed curriculum for the students but they are keen to stress there will be a number of rules to be observed.

"One law is that all members of the community have the right to go about their day in a peaceful way," she says.

Regular school meetings will also take place, and will involve all children who use their vote on various issues they would like to see changed or employed.


The school will start in September and are currently running monthly information mornings on Saturdays. More information can be obtained at