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Encyclopedia > Sudbury model

The Sudbury model of education was pioneered at Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts. That school, founded in 1968, became the inspiration for many other schools and institutions in the time since, and there are currently over 40 Sudbury Schools around the world. The Sudbury Valley School was founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts. ... Framingham is a town located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 66,910, making it the most populous town in Massachusetts, and at present, the largest town in North America. ... 1968 was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... The following schools follow the Sudbury model of non-compulsory, democratic education, pioneered by Sudbury Valley School: Alpine Valley School, Wheat Ridge, Colorado The Beach Sudbury School, Toronto, Ontario Big Rock Sudbury School, San Rafael, California /The Blue Mountain School, Cottage Grove, Oregon The Blue Ridge Discovery School, Lynchburg, Virginia...

Although there are similarities between Sudbury schools and other Democratic schools, there are certain facets of the model that separate them from other democratic schools and free schools. Some important aspects are administrating the school with a democratic process through a School Meeting, a Judicial Committee to handle discipline problems, the non-compulsory nature of the model, and age mixing. A democratic school is a school run after democratic principles with full and equal participation from both students and staff. ... A democratic school is a school run after democratic principles with full and equal participation from both students and staff. ...

Although there is currently no official doctrine or association governing a Sudbury school, many schools have independently and voluntarily adopted the title of Sudbury school. The schools maintain good communication with each other, and recognize a loose comradarie.


School Meeting

Every Sudbury School is run by a weekly School Meeting. These meetings are modeled after the traditional New England Town Meeting. Most of the schools run this meeting using Robert's Rules of Order, with an elected Chairperson presiding over the meeting and a Secretary recording the minutes. Modern New England, the six northeastern-most states of the United States, indicated by red The New England region of the United States is located in the northeastern corner of the country. ... Town meeting is a form of local government commonly practiced in the U.S. region of New England, but uncommon elsewhere in the United States. ... Roberts Rules of Order is a handbook of parliamentary procedure that is often used as the parliamentary authority by deliberative bodies, as part of their overall rules of order. ... A chairman is the presiding officer of a meeting, organization, committee, or other deliberative body. ... A secretary is an office/administrative support position. ...

All aspects of governing a Sudbury School are ultimately determined by the School Meeting. The weekly agenda may range from changes to the school's rules, to spending money within the budget, to hiring and firing staff persons. All present members receive an equal vote (excepting the Chairperson, who only votes to break ties), and most decisions are determined by a majority vote. Students and staff persons receive equal votes.

So that School Meetings do not get bogged down with the minutea of detail, several aspects of running a Sudbury School are often delegated to other parties. These may include elected administrative clerks (who may be chosen from staff or students), committees of volunteers, and corporations formed by School Meeting for a specific purpose.

Judicial Committee

When a school member has infracted against a school rule, such as by harrassing or hitting another member, or by mismanaging a delegated responsibility, most Sudbury Schools have some form of a committee to handle these situations. This is commonly through a Judicial Committee, made up of drafted students and staff, or through a modified Judicial School Meeting of volunteers.

Usually, there is a set procedure to handle complaints, and most of the schools follow guidelines that respect the idea of due process of law. There will usually be rules requiring an investigation, a hearing, a trial, a sentence, and allowing for an appeal. Due process of law is a legal concept that ensures the government will respect all of a persons legal rights instead of just some or most of those legal rights, when the government deprives a person of life, liberty, or property. ... A detective is an officer of the police who performs criminal or administrative investigations, in some police departments, the lowest rank among such investigators (above the lowest rank of officers and below sergeants), a civilian licensed to investigate information not readily available in public records (a private investigator, also called... In law, a hearing is a proceeding before a court or other decisionmaking body or officer. ... A trial is, in the most general sense, a test, usually a test to see whether something does or does not meet a given standard. ... In law, a sentence forms the final act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. ... This article is about the legal term. ...

Most Sudbury Schools have developed a law book that outlines the school's policies that have changed over time. All such laws are subject to School Meeting review, and cover such things as rules regarding safety, personal behavior, and school management.

Age Mixing

Sudbury schools generally accept children and teens, usually between ages 5-19. They do not segregate students by age, so that students of any age are free to interact with students in other age groups. Thus, for instance, School Meetings may be chaired by seven year olds, and classes will be organized by students' interests and abilities, rather than by age.

Individual Freedom

A central tenet of the Sudbury model of education is that each student should be free to develop their own curriculla. The model contradicts the myth that there is one set curriculum that everyone should learn in order to become a successful adult. Believing there are many ways for students to learn, and not judging individual choices of subject matter, students are free to design their course of study from day to day.

Classes are always voluntary and optional, and may be led by staff or students. Many students may choose to never take a class. Often, there are areas of the school designated for a particular use. For instance, there may be an art room, a music room, or a library. Although most areas would normally be free for any students to use, some items or activities may require a student to have completed a certification process to demonstrate their ability to use the item safely. Most of the schools have several certifications, such as to use a sewing machine or wood-working equipment.


Sudbury Valley School has published two studies of their alumni over the past forty years. They have learned, among other things, that about 80% of their students have graduated from college, and that they have gone on to become successful in many areas of life. There have, as yet, been no formal studies of graduates of other Sudbury schools, but anecdotally, they seem to have similar results.

External Links

  • Sudbury Valley School

  Results from FactBites:
Sudbury Valley School - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (389 words)
The Sudbury Valley School was founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts, United States.
There are now over 40 schools based on the Sudbury Model in the United States, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Germany.
Sudbury Valley School has published two studies of their alumni over the past thirty-five years.
  More results at FactBites »



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