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Wicklow Democratic School


Ballybeg, Rathnew, Wicklow - A67PW18

Wicklow Democratic School

Wicklow Democratic School is Ireland's first democratic school for self-directed learning. In our school, there is no set curriculum or classes and no mandatory tests. Students decide what and how they want to learn and staff members act as facilitator, supporting students to achieve their goals. All decisions are made through school meetings, which are open to the whole school community, and every member of the school has an equal vote.

For more information about our school, visit our website atwicklowsudburyschool.comand follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram



We are at a crucial juncture in Ireland that could decide the future of the Irish education system. Wicklow Democratic School is part of a larger movement to create an education system that listens to students and supports their mental and emotional health instead of damaging it. As the first democratic school in Ireland, our organisation is a vital resource for understanding democratic education in Ireland and helping other democratic schools establish themselves. 

Irish students are calling for changes to the education system. At the 2017 Dail na nOg, the youth parliament of Ireland highlighted not being listened to in school as a major problem. And a related study of Irish young people, 'So How Was School Today? ', demonstrated that student want more active learning and more control over their education. It showed that exams are a massive source of stress, and students become more dissatisfied the longer they are in school. Learning to the test is not only damaging for students' mental health, but it also means they aren't learning the critical thinking skills and intrinsic motivation that are so highly valued in today's work force.

It is clear that change is needed, and Wicklow Democratic School offers young people the option to explore their interests and spend their time immersed in their passions. We're not expecting all schools in Ireland to become democratic, but just the existence of democratic schools shows people that the traditional education system is not the only way.


There's a large demand for spaces in our school, but we're reaching capacity in our current location. Since we are not eligible to receive money from the state, expanding our student body will be the primary way that we can be financially sustainable.

It's in our long-term plans to change the policies that exclude democratic schools from state funding, but, in the meantime, we want to be able to pay our staff living wage (they are all currently working half paid and half unpaid) and offer free spaces in our school to low-income families.

Please donate to Wicklow Democratic School and be a part of Ireland's Learning Revolution!

where your money goes

  • Sponsoring students – we aim to provide a limited number of free and subsidized places in our school. Donations enable us to provide scholarships and make our school more accessible.
  • Equipment and supplies, such as computers, recording tools, science materials, textbooks and resources, art supplies, toys and games, and more.


It started with a group of parents and educators who were looking for an educational environment to fit the needs of their children. Many of the founders had seen their own children’s wellbeing suffer in traditional education. All of them longed to give their own children, and all young people, a safe community where they could flourish.

Emboldened by schools like Summerhill in the UK and Sudbury Valley in the US, as well as extensive research showing the limitations of traditional education methods and outlining better possibilities, they set out to create a different kind of school.