Hello everyone!

It is great to see the days getting longer and the first glimpses of spring renewal after the long and very cold winter.

During these quiet months we have been waiting patiently for the outcome of our planning permission and charity status applications, preparing policies and procedures, doing plenty of research and reading, planning a series of films to engage with others interested in educational alternatives, and getting ready to take enrollments.

Our big news is that the application for planning permission has been granted and we will be able to go ahead with the purchase and renovation of the school building. We can also share the location which we jealously guarded for so long. Sligo Sudbury School will have its home at Faught’s Lane, Calry, Co. Sligo. It is a beautiful rural spot, just minutes from Sligo town and easily accessible from the N15 Donegal, and the N16 Manorhamilton roads as well as from Dromahair via Calry. The building itself is an old schoolhouse and schoolmaster’s house which was closed in the 1980s. It was bought by the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland and served as their Day Care Centre for a number of years before they moved to new premises last year. We are proud to restore this lovely old building and reinstate it as a centre for education once again. Outside of the schoolhouse building, there are ample gardens, a wooded area, and a large field for outdoor play, sports, games and gardening. We will keep you up to date on the works as they happen. Our plan is to be ready to open in September 2018.

In the meantime we are trying to get the word out to as many people as possible interested in and looking for a self-directed learning environment. With this in mind we have organised a series of documentary films on the subject of education showing monthly at The Model in Sligo. Each film is completely different and looks at a different way of approaching learning and education, from homeschooling and unschooling to free schools and democratic schools around the world. The films cross cultural and socio-economic boundaries and address many of the questions that people have such as how children learn, what motivates them to learn, how they fare in adult life, and how they are affected emotionally and mentally as well as intellectually by different learning environments. In these films you will hear the opinions of many different people; you will hear from teachers, the staff of the democratic schools, the parents of the homeschoolers and unschoolers; from professionals in education and in psychology; from retired school inspectors; and most crucially from the children themselves, of varying ages and varying cultures, from 5yr olds to 20 yr olds. We think there is something for everyone in these films and hope that they start a process of reflection and conversation about children and their educational experience. April’s film, “Doing nothing all day”, is showing on Sat 28th April at 11am. Please spread the word and come along.

Also happening this month are the enrollment meetings for interested families. These are to enable us to meet each child and family individually and to go through the Tusla enrollment procedures. If you still haven’t got your pre-enrollment form to us there is still time to do so. Once we have firmly established student numbers we hope to recruit additional staff members.

That’s our update for the moment….or at least the highlights. We’ll get some photos of the works as they develop over the coming months. And lastly, if any of you are handy with a paintbrush or tools and interested in volunteering to get the place shipshape for September we would love to hear from you. Volunteers are a large part of making our school possible. If you have time or skills that you would like to donate, please contact us.

All best wishes,
The Sligo Sudbury team