Being and Becoming Screening and Q&A

We’re thrilled to announce we will be screening Being and Becoming by Clara Bellar as the first in our series of film and discussion events.  In the film we are taken on a beautiful journey of discovery as one parent travels to meet others across Europe and the US that have chosen to allow their children to grow and learn without schooling.  Whilst specifically a film about Unschooling, it is much more than that, it is a film about how we can trust children to learn by following their interests and it challenges our ingrained ideas about education.

We’ll be following up the screening with a discussion of the key themes raised in the film with a fantastic panel comprised of Kezia Cantwell-Wright, EKSS founder and Unschooling parent, James Friis-Lawrence, ex-student from Summerhill School and Marc Denervaux, Maths Teacher and future EKSS Staff Member.

There will also of course be time to take any questions you may have about our proposal for East Kent Sudbury School.

Sunday 18th February, 2-5pm
The Falstaff, 16-18 Addington Street, Ramsgate, CT11 9JJ
Suggested donation of £8 per person.
Book tickets with Eventbrite.

Watch the trailer for Being and Becoming below.  We look forward to seeing you all there.

Freedom to Learn Forum

Organised by The Phoenix Education Trust, The Freedom to Learn Forum is an annual festival, celebrating humanity in education, bringing together progressive educators, families and other pioneers to showcase and inspire unique learning communities governed by equality, freedom, and collaboration. This is a child-friendly event; we welcome participation from children and young people, and there will be activities and plenty of space for play.

Unlikely to resemble any other conferences you’ve been to before, the Freedom to Learn Forum is an open-space arena in which adults and children co-create the schedule. Anyone can host a talk or workshop on any topic they are passionate about, allowing us to share our knowledge, experience, and ideas.

This Spring, the Freedom to Learn Forum will be set in the stunning surroundings of the historic Summerhill school, founded in 1921 and still ahead of its time. Delicious food will be provided by their on-site catering team, and students will be adding a ‘Summerhill Sprinkle’ to the affair, hosting mock-meetings and a famous ‘gram’ (disco). There are a limited number of beds for those who wish to have the authentic Summerhill residential experience.

The East Kent Sudbury School founding group will be at the event and hope to run a workshop as part of the open spaces programme, we’d love to see some of our followers and families there too.

More information and tickets available here from EventBrite.


Christmas wishes

Wishing everyone who has supported and followed us in our journey this year a very Happy Christmas. It’s been an incredible year, we can’t believe how much interest our project gathered so quickly, it just proves how much need there is in the UK for more educational choices. It’s been a steep learning curve for the founders too, from working our way through the Sudbury Valley School planning kit box of resources to visiting EUDEC and Gent, running a camp and discovering just how many hurdles there are to founding an alternative school. But we’re in a stronger position than ever, fully armed with information we need and a clear vision for the school we want to create. Keep following us in 2018, we’re busy planning lots more interesting events to help you learn more about our school and will be announcing more details about our plans as we make them including the all important questions of fees and location. Here’s to hoping we won’t be saying ‘what if’ in Kent for much longer and our children will have a school right here where they are truly free to learn.

Canterbury Public Meeting

Do you want more educational choices in your area? Are you looking for a school that embraces your child’s curiosity and imagination, freeing them to grow into the person they want to be?

Democratic education turns traditional ideas about schooling on its head.

We believe in giving children:

  • Freedom to direct their own learning
  • Responsibility for their decisions
  • Trust – we trust them and they trust themselves
  • Equality – equal rights and an equal say
  • Democracy – a school governed for and by itself

Come along to our public meeting to find out more about our vision for East Kent Sudbury School.

Wednesday 15th of November
From 7pm
Friends Meeting House, 6 The Friars, Canterbury, CT1 2AS

Please note that while children are welcome the session will be aimed more at parents, there will be other events in the future for the whole family to enjoy.


Visiting Sudbury School Gent

Sudbury School Gent

As part of the process of preparing ourselves to open our school we are visiting as many other schools based on the Sudbury model and other democratically run schools as possible.  Last week my daughter and I made a visit to Sudbury School Gent.  Despite being short the visit was really interesting and we both enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere.

Despite the language barrier and both the site and people being completely new to her my daughter felt comfortable and at home really quickly.  I think it helped that it felt very much like our house, lots of relaxed spaces with different things to do and a wonderful atmosphere of peace, happiness, mutual respect and personal responsibility filled every room.  The first question she asked was what are the rules, knowing how a Sudbury school works she was keen to make sure she didn’t break any rules out of ignorance.  It was also interesting to see she picked up on the idea of responsibility really quickly and tidied things away after herself, not something she is usually in the habit of doing at home.  She also got her first certification for using the trampoline which required her to understand and agree to the trampoline rules.

We sat in on a couple of Judicial Committee (JC) cases. One of the concerns parents and children raise most often with me when thinking about our proposed school is that the JC seems very punitive and that it might be scary for children to have complaints raised against them.  If you have been used to parenting in a gentle way without the use of punishments I can see why this would at first feel very alien to you.  What we both witnessed however had no sense of ill feeling and blaming.  Everyone was very civil and respectful, listening to each others points of view and explaining their side.  Those charged with breaking a rule were very accepting and agreed that it was fair and justified.  Most importantly everyone walked away friends, one of the most important aspects of the JC is that it clears the air.  Everyone is heard and everyone is treated fairly so there is no need to harbour a grudge, it restores peace to the community.

Find out more about Sudbury School Gent here:

Learning languages

One of the questions asked at camp was if children aren’t introduced to things like a foreign language as a subject how will they spontaneously discover it as something that can be learnt about? The subject of course could be anything and the answer is in a myriad of ways because we are surrounded by so much information and others carrying out their activities all the time that we cannot escape becoming aware of other things.
One of the most common ways you become exposed to a language of course is by travelling and we’ve just come back from a family holiday in Belgium. We could have prepared for the trip by rote learning a few ‘key phrases’ that might have been useful or not and might have been retained after the holiday or not. On the ferry over my kids did ask me what a few of these phrases are in case they wanted to play with other kids they met, so that idea was already on their minds.
But what impressed me the most was not what words of Dutch they learnt but how being surrounded by others speaking different languages made them think about what a language is. My 6 year old daughter asked how does everyone know what words mean in a particular language and where did the words come from originally? Why don’t we all speak the same language? And why does any particular word mean what it does and not something else? After a pondering discussion about these fascinating questions inspiration struck and she decided to make up her own language and proceeded to write up a dictionary of words with little drawings to indicate their meaning.
Learning language, play dictionaryIt doesn’t matter that these are not real words and that she didn’t learn a real foreign language in Belgium her game was in trying to understand the very nature of language and by creating a play model of her own language she was getting to the heart of what is a word, what is its meaning, how do you convey it to someone else and isn’t writing wonderfully useful for these purposes. The game might end there now we’re back home or she might show a friend one day and continue it in another game and the idea might spread through her friendship group, it doesn’t matter because it’s not the only time she will come across and be intrigued by the idea of language.

Photos from camp

We all had a wonderful time at our summer camp.  We thought it would be nice to share some of the best photos from the week.  If you have any stories or other photos you’d like to share please add them in the comments or forward them to us at  We’d also love to make next years camp even better, complete our survey to let us know what you thought.

Summer Camp 2017

Join us for 4 days and 3 nights in August to get a taste of what life at our new school might be like.  It will be a great opportunity for parents and children to learn more about our vision for the school, we’ll have videos and books available as well as the founders to answer questions.  Most of all it will be a wonderful opportunity for us all to put some of these ideas into practice.  The camp will be run by the camp meeting, with members setting the rules for behaviour and dealing with any issues that arise.  Children and parents are encouraged to learn and play following your own interests.  Anyone can make suggestions for activities and games or make a request for materials or a workshop and we’ll do our best to facilitate.  Comment here or answer our poll on Facebook to let us know what you’d like to do at camp.


8th – 11th August 2017

The Field, Singledge Lane, Coldred, Dover, Kent, CT15 5AF

Adults camp only: £25.00
Children FREE!

Bookings are now closed.

Suggested donation towards group costs per family: £20.00


If camping you’ll need your own tent, caravans and campers are welcome but hook up facilities are limited.

If you would like to come in the day only and not camp just pay the group contribution.

As we are not yet set up as a school this is a family event for those interested in being part of East Kent Sudbury School once opened, parents are responsible for their children at all times during the camp.

Answer our survey

We’re working hard to develop a strategy that will make our new school available to the widest possible audience in East Kent and to fund it in the fairest possible way whilst ensuring the viability of our school with a secure financial future.  We’d be very grateful if you could answer this anonymous survey to help us better understand our interest group.  The answers given here do not represent a commitment from you just an indication of the level and type of interest in the school at the present time.

Market research survey >>