Despite the difficulties of the past year our project has survived and is growing from strength to strength thanks to the generosity of donors like you, the dedication of our staff, and the commitment of our parents and students. Enrolments are growing and will reach over 60 students in September 2021. We never could have imagined this when we opened our doors with 15 students just under 3 years ago. We are more determined than ever to provide an educational environment that is rooted in empathy, where students are empowered to direct their education and experiences in ways that are directly relevant to their lives. The events of the past year have revealed the inflexibility and dependency cultivated by the mainstream educational model, and have made ever clearer the need for a system overhaul.
One of the challenges during this time was to find a way to let prospective students visit our school virtually. Staff and student film makers put together a short video to give a glimpse of life inside Sligo Sudbury School. We hope you enjoy! https://youtu.be/FuVVPHyf1KQ
Our students are thriving, finding ways to adapt and keep growing. We are grateful for the space and freedom we have to support them.
In the words of one of our parents:
"... (our son) really loves his new surroundings and has never looked back; the single biggest change we see in him is his confidence to speak to adults, to voice his opinion, to rationalise his decision making, to question the world around him and to be innovative. We have struggled ourselves with the idea of leaving the curriculum behind, but we can honestly say our children are learning fast and are inquisitive. Most importantly for us, in the midst of a world turned upside down in this pandemic, Sudbury offers a sanctuary of child centred normality and our children are happy."
January and February saw a return to lockdown as the pandemic restrictions were reimposed due to rising infection rates. Staff and students adapted well, collaborating to ensure stimulating and supportive opportunities online to remain connected and continue learning together. Our connection to each other and to our community is at the heart of everything we do at Sligo Sudbury School, so we focused our attention on maintaining these connections with each other during this time. Ironically, we made new friends from all over the world during this time, thanks to International Democratic School meetups on zoom and a shared global experience.
We were able to return to in-person school at the beginning of March 2021. All of our students were thrilled to be back and we also welcomed 4 new students into our communty. We are more motivated than ever to promote self-directed education as a valuable and viable option for all young people. Autonomy and responsiblity play a key role in developing resilience, wellbeing, and agency. Children who are accustomed to self-direction find it easier to adapt to changing circumstances as they look within themselves for direction rather than depending solely on an external source.
Our students continue to thrive with the support of their peers and the democratic ethos of our school.
Thank you for your help in making all of this possible.
14 new students joined our school in September 2020 in the midst of the uncertainty caused by the global pandemic. Protecting our children's health and well being without limiting their freedom, self expression and personal develoment has been our priority this term. It is a joy and a privilege to watch the children grow in confidence and competence each day. One of our parents has this to share:
"Thank you for a fantastic first term. It means so much to us that in a world turned upside down, our boys get to experience so much fun and "normal" school experiences. They are very happy!"
Since our last report we have begun a year long series of workshops on Empathy and Listening based on the Narrative 4 Story Exchange (www.narrative4.ie) across all age ranges in our community. This very valuable programme helps us to develop greater capacity for empathy and for understanding of different perspectives. Learning to deeply consider another's experience develops greater self awareness, helping us to make better choices.
Students have been active in many interests this term including STEM, Coding, Creative Writing, Chess, Reading, Foreign Language Studies, Nature Study, Arts and Crafts, Geology, Music, Gaming, Outdoor Play, Sports such as biking, rock climbing, football, dodgeball, and much more. Work on the planned Multi Use Games Area will continue in January 2021 which will further improve our facilities.
With 5 additional students joining us in January 2021 our community will reach 43 students who have made the move to self-directed education. On their behalf we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support.
Since launching our first campaign with GlobalGiving in the summer of 2020 we have been working hard to improve our school facilities in preparation for reopening in September. This was of course all the more challenging due to covid-19. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and the commitment of our staff and parents here at Sligo Sudbury School we have been able to build a beautiful new art room, and create new spaces for music as well as a larger library. This helps to ensure safe distancing of staff and students without compromising our activities. We have implemented all necessary additional health and safety measures relating to covid-19, to ensure the safety of our community while preserving children's freedom and wellbeing.
It is great to be back together at school, providing young people with a safe, stimulating, autonomous educational environment. We welcomed 14 new students in September 2020, bringing our current enrolment to 38 students. After this settling in period, getting used to the new rules and regulations, the students are thriving, picking up their old passions, and developing new skills.
We are grateful for your support and looking forward to the school year ahead.
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