Principles & Practices
Humans have a fundamental need for and right to freedom. With freedom comes responsibility.
Create a school based on real freedom and real responsibility: Freedom from arbitrary control, forced learning and judgement. Freedom to be, freedom to choose, freedom to move, and freedom to learn. Responsibility for ourselves, our influence on others, and our contribution to our world.
All humans are equal in worth and deserving of equal rights and equal opportunity to flourish. Realising this ideal means accepting and working with difference, not treating everyone as if they are the same.
Pursue genuine equity between all active members of our school, staying mindful of structural and interpersonal inequalities which can undermine the realisation of this ideal.
A sense of belonging in a healthy caring community meets critical human needs, expands opportunity and possibility, and helps create the conditions for learning, growth and human flourishing.
Provide the conditions for a co-created community of equals to develop and thrive; space, time, commitment, consistency, care and a conceptual shift away from individualism and towards collectivity.
A community truly based on freedom and equality is a community which is both culturally and structurally democratic. Democratic education is essential for democratic societies.
Run our school as a consent-based democratic community where all members, big and small, have an equal say in deciding how our community functions.
Trusting, empathic and authentic relationships are a fundamental basis of a liberating education. Being fully accepted for who they are creates the space for young people to become who they truly want to be.
Embody compassion, care, authenticity and unconditional positive regard in our relationships with children, supporting and encouraging them to relate to themselves and others in the same ways.
Being taught can be wonderful and inspiring but it is only one of many ways that people learn. The most important mechanism for young peoples learning is play. Whatever the method, the impetus for real learning always comes from within the learner.
Support self-directed learning, enabling children to pursue their interests, ambitions and dreams, and achieve success as defined by the children themselves
Children are born curious, intrinsically motivated to learn, and phenomenally good at it. The work of a school is not to persuade children to learn, it is to maximise their opportunities to do so. Opportunity comes in many forms.
Offer a rich and diverse range of opportunities, enabling children to develop a growing freedom to choose between the many ways of knowing, thinking and doing that exist in the world.
Learning environments transmit powerful messages about the world. The implicit messages an environment transmits should be consistent with the explicit values and aims of that environment.
Build our school in collaboration with the children, developing spaces based on their real needs and transmitting powerful messages about ownership, agency and their right and capacity to participate in the co-creation of the world.
The separation of nature (non-human) and culture (human) is false and destructive. We are a part of nature and nature is part of us. Our school is not located in a valley, it is the valley.
Offer unlimited opportunity to interact with the rich, diverse landscape of our valley, enabling the emergence of a unique nature/culture that embodies respectful integration between human and non-human.
In the world as it is, schools are essential, but the degree of separation between the lives of children and the real world of adults serves neither children nor adults well.
Organise an ongoing residency program which supports collaboration and dialogue between creative practitioners and our community. Employ adults from our local community who do not necessarily identify as teachers to share their skills and passions with our group.
Research is a powerful way of developing understanding of a situation in order to improve it. The things we want to improve are our own practice and the education and treatment of children.
Integrate research into the fabric of our school, creating space and time for facilitators to engage in practitioner research and seeking and supporting collaboration with researchers from outside our community.
We are committed to social and ecological justice.
Work as a community to ensure that our school is sustainable, fair, and open and available to all children.
Attempts to control the outcomes of complex systems consistently fail and produce negative unintended consequences. A school is a complex system. Our role as adults is not to try to control outcomes, it is to take full responsibility for our influence on the process of learning.
Conceptualise education as an emergent property of a complex system. Take responsibility for our role in the system and our part in the process of emergence through pedagogical documentation and reflection.
You can’t empower others. You can create conditions which enable others to empower themselves. Our core aim is to create these conditions for our community.
Evaluate our school in terms of the degree to which it enables individuals to build caring, empowered relationships; with themselves, others and the world.
It is essential that we trust children. It is equally essential that children and our wider community trust us. Developing and maintaining trust requires harmony between values, principles and practices.
Maintain congruence between our values, principles and practices in all our activities with young people and our interactions with the world.