Sudbury Schools

Sudbury schools are very different from traditional schools. In Sudbury schools, everyone is allowed to do whatever they want – limited only by a strong school democracy, which maintains limits that protect the individual and the community.

Sudbury schooling is based on the twin concepts of trust and responsibility. The students, members of the school community, are trusted to manage their time and make their own decisions. At the same time, all members of the community are given full responsibility over their own lives, and an equal share in responsibility for the school as a whole, by means of the school’s democratic framework.

It can be difficult to understand Sudbury schools before you have spent some time in one. These schools have a lot of structure, but not of an obvious kind –  especially if you are used to the academic achievement-oriented structures of traditional schooling. People visiting a Sudbury school for the first time often get the impression that it is “recess”. But Sudbury schools don’t have recess – students are always free to move around and engage in whatever activity they are interested in pursuing. Conversation, sports, free play, art, reading and academic studies are all examples of what these activities may be – in most schools, academic studies are not the most common. Sudbury schools allow free and unstructured activity due to the observation that given responsibility for their own time, people will seek out the activities they need most for their personal learning and development. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in such a school sees this in action, time and time again.

The structure of Sudbury schools is not specifically about academic learning, or even about learning as a whole. Instead, the school’s institutions concern themselves with administration, fair rule of law, and maintaining the personal liberties of the individual within the school. Most important of these institutions is the democratic School Meeting, where each member of the community (students and staff) has one vote and the right to participate. Sudbury schools’ School Meetings hire and fire staff, manage the school budget, and make School Law, which forms the basis for fair and equal resolution of day-to-day problems, as well as management of the school’s institutions. School Law may include a seemingly petty rule of thumb saying that if someone left their seat for less than ten minutes the seat is still “theirs”. But it may also include attendance requirements, basic rights of each individual (such as personal safety and the freedom of speech) and complex administrative regulations concerning the different institutions School Meeting has given authority. Most schools also have a Judicial Committee that deals with infractions in a structured way, providing due process and fair treatment to all without discrimination (which also means staff can be brought up before the committee just like students; in fact, staff is often treated more strictly in Judicial Committee, due to their duty as elected and paid employees of the school.)

These institutions, along with the Sudbury name, and the philosophy and literature behind these schools, all come from Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts, which has served as an inspiration and model for all schools that call themselves Sudbury schools. There is, however, no central authority on these schools, and all schools that use the Sudbury name do so voluntarily and without consulting Sudbury Valley or any other school or institution.

Currently, most Sudbury schools are located in the United States, with several schools spread out across the rest of the developed world. Most of them are in the United States, but there are a few in Europe, and two in Israel.

Further reading

discuss-sudbury-model, a public mailing list for discussions about the Sudbury model, is one of the best places to get answers to questions about this type of school and the philosophy behind it.

For literature on Sudbury schooling, visit Sudbury Valley School Press’s online bookstore. For literature in German, visit Tologo Verlag.

Finally, the Sudbury Valley School website also has a selection of articles and book excerpts, videos, and discussions from the discuss-sudbury-model list.

72 thoughts on “Sudbury Schools”

  1. “This free and unstructured activity is a result of the belief that given responsibility for their own time, people will seek out the activities they need most for their personal learning and development.”
    You forgot only one problem that remains and increases in Sudbury schools. Peer pressure. In Sudbury schools, because “everyone” isn’t studying most of the time, those who “anyway” want to study earn an new level of disrespect. Oh, yay.
    In “regular” schools people still have this problem but on a lower level. For they are all “forced” to learn, with no exceptions. This simple fact makes it easier for those who own the desire to study to be accepted in the community AND to act as their metaphysical heart begs them to.

    1. Hello David,
      That’s an interesting point, but I have a few comments.
      First of all, what makes you say that this problem “remains and increases”? In my four years at Sudbury Jerusalem it was more of a phases thing, and correlated very closely with the influx of older new students; in other words, those who had already been there for a while were less prejudiced against academic pursuits. I wonder how it is in older schools, if they see more or less of this.

      Second, I have to strongly disagree about traditional schools. In my experience in those schools (eight years) and in my contact with people who go/went to such, they are far more prejudiced against academic pursuits than what I experienced at SJ. Students who are good at academics, or even who simply show some intelligence and intellectualism, are routinely made into pariahs in traditional schools, called names and generally considered uncool. This is not despite the fact the students are forced to study, but because of it – the demand to study is seen as an imposed external force to be resisted; students who like studying are treated badly, just like those who cooperate with the authorities under an occupying totalitarian regime.

      Finally, the huge advantage of a truly democratic school is that this kind of trend can be fought against, and that you still have the right to do whatever you want. In a traditional school, the “uncool” intellectual kids are basically doomed to either conform to peer pressure or to remain victims and social pariahs. Beside the fact that in a Sudbury school, bullies quickly get expelled, you also have a School Meeting where you can make rules that help you – or at least try.

      Anyway, I remember the frustration of wanting to study and not being able to find quiet places at school to do so… So I see where you are coming from. But I don’t see that as a problem in the Sudbury model… If you look closely you’ll see that most of that peer pressure comes from people who spent a significant time at a regular school… Pay close attention to the preteens who have never been to a regular school, see if SJ made them more prejudiced than the people who went to other schools.

      Another though occurs to me: sometimes people who are not prejudiced against academic pursuits will more or less teasingly try to dissuade newer students from getting so worked up about studying… I can see how that might be annoying, but there are some people who come in with the attitude that the only worthy activity is studying, and that’s not exactly healthy or reasonable in itself… And some people try to remind those people that there are other interesting things you can do… I don’t see that so much as a problem, but I can imagine it would be a bit annoying when you’re the target of that kind of thing.

    2. actually from what I have seen that really doesnt happen… and in the true light of what a sudbury school is, disrespect is not permitted.

  2. Hello David and Michael,

    When you live in a society, and almost all of us live in a society, besides misanthropes and/or people that seclude themselves, peers and people around us in general, are always putting pressure on us for many and varied reasons. What is important is how able you are to resist this pressure, and how effective are societies’ (in our case schools) institutions to protect individuals. I think Sudbury model schools, even though they cannot change human nature, still they are excellent models of human organization being structured, as they are, in such a way as to protect individuals, if individuals wish so, and individual rights from group and/or individual pressure.

  3. An amusing and colorful example of this is given by Daniel Greenberg in, “WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG…” – A true Story, included in chapter 35, “With Liberty and Justice for All,” in his instructive book, Free at Last – Sudbury Valley School.

    “Will you help us to write a complaint?………….”

  4. I was hoping to find more schools like this. I will be living in Missouri next year and would like my children to go to a Sudbury school. How do you start one? Who can help with this process?

    1. Hi Carmen,
      Terribly sorry you’ve had to wait so long for a reply, I’ve been up to my neck with degree thesis work.
      The first thing you’ll need to start a Sudbury school is a small and dedicated start-up group. It’s extremely important that the group discuss, early on, how the school will work and what your vision is (and what exactly each of you means when they say they want the school to follow the Sudbury model – you’d be surprised how different people’s understanding can be.)

      I’d suggest checking out the discuss-sudbury-model mailing list, linked at the bottom of the page above, if you haven’t yet – there are a lot of people there starting schools, interested in starting schools, or experienced in starting schools.
      It would probably also be a good idea to get the Sudbury Valley School Press “start-up kit”, which includes most if not all of their books. There’s at least one book in there that’s focussed on how to start a school, and the rest are a vital resource for the start-up phase and the early life of the school.

      I hope I helped. Good luck!

        1. I’m in Columbia MO getting a startup group going. On Facebook search for the group “Let’s talk sudbury schooling COMO” and in a few days I will have up and running! I’d be delighted to connect with you.

      1. Hi Lisa, I’m in the -very early- stages of starting one in KC. I’ve been researching it extensively and I’m just now starting to meet with friends to talk about it. Would you like to get together?

        1. Julie and Lisa, I’m in Columbia! See above. I’d love to just connect and chat with you KC people just for the fun and Missourian support! Very happy to see this.

    2. No idea if anyone will see this, but as of 2019 there is a Sudbury school in St Louis, MO. Currently in the Dutchtown area, close to Cherokee street.

  5. I’m excited about what I read on the Sudbury Model, but somewhat afraid of what the college process is for those attending. I understand kids rock the interview, and some schools don’t require transcripts, etc, but still, I worry it could limit their choices. Has anyone found that? It’s hard to find criticism of Sudbury from a reputable source (i.e., a source other than a blogger that I never met and know nothing about)- is it really that bullet proof? I’d just like to see the arguments on both sides before making a final decision.

    1. It really is hard to find impartial sources on Sudbury, that’s true.

      If I recall correctly, Sudbury Valley School’s own studies/surveys of their alumni indicated that most of them got into the college of their first choice, and the rest got into their second choice.
      (“Legacy of Trust” and “Pursuit of Happiness”, available here: )

      Ultimately, Sudbury Schools give young people the space to pursue their own goals, ambitions, and interests, and to learn to do so independently. If someone knows how to do that, and truly wants to go to a particular school, they can probably get in sooner or later, one way or another. It might not always be as simple and straightforward as it is for someone with perfect grades from a traditional school (the well-trodden path,) but time spent pursuing your dream is rarely time wasted.

    2. Hi, Robin:
      Disclosure: I am a 100% satisfied SVS parent. My son (12) and daughter (9) have never gone anywhere else.

      I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read the Sudbury Valley School Journal. It’s published four times a year and frequently has essays by graduating students. These pieces offer great insight into the college application/acceptance process and might alleviate some of your concerns. (I recommend the Winter, 2013 edition.)

      I don’t think any school is “bullet proof” when it comes to college admissions these days. Kids with impeccable résumés (4.0 GPAs, AP classes, volunteer work both local and global) are routinely rejected by the schools of their dreams. What might make the difference, in my opinion, is that in a school like SVS, kids don’t base their self-concept on what other people think of them or how external parties judge them. And they understand that there are multiple paths leading to their goals and they aren’t afraid to pursue any of them.

      Hope this helps.
      If you’re interested in talking further, you can contact me through my website.

    3. Hi, I’m a recent SVS alum who is reaching the end of my second semester at Hampshire College.
      The college application process was a little miserable for me, I will admit. I taught myself everything I needed for the SATs and subject tests in about a year (that is, All of math starting from arithmetic) and I had very few predecessors I could consult for help with the process. A big hit was in what colleges I even knew about, I only ended up applying to colleges that either staff had attended or SVS alum had gone to, I simply was not aware of many other options.
      The biggest obstacle was not proving my academic achievements but getting the institutions to even accept my transcript as having been received. Every institution but Hampshire had originally insisted they had received no transcript rather than that they weren’t accepting my transcript as real. I had to work with the records clerk to call every Registrar multiple times and convince them that the document reading “Sudbury Valley Official Transcript” was in fact my official transcript. Columbia and NYU gave me the most trouble. The fact that, as there was no curriculum, all of my activities were “extra-curricular” made my application look a little messy. I got into 2/5 of the colleges I applied to, (keep in mind, I only applied to high-prestige institutions, I was planning to go to MassBay as my safety school and then transfer to Umass Amherst, so I didn’t bother applying to “safety schools” my first go around)

      Starting college was where my SVS experiences paid off more positively. While I faced culture shock at first, I did a lot better than my fellow students in most of my classes. My fellow students weren’t used to managing their own time and schedule or dealing with large blocks of free time. Many did not know how to cook, do their own laundry, figure out when to do laundry, or even maintaining prolonged social interaction with strangers. My independent lifestyle from SVS gave me very good work ethic that helped me get ahead on all my deadlines and fearlessly talk to my professors. My first semester I ended up with a 4.0 GPA (though that’s converting my three Hampshire classes Pass/Fail rank to A/F and adding it to the A I got in my class at Mt. Holyoke.)
      What has been very useful was my experiences working in SVS’s government. In my second semester at college I have routinely impressed my fellow students in organizing student groups and taking leadership in reforming Hampshire’s student government to more resemble SVS. I’m on first-name basis with a few of the deans because Im not afraid to talk to them about problems on campus and working with them to fix them.
      So long as your kid isn’t completely isolated in SVS like I was, then they shouldn’t have any problems in college like the ones I had (which I have since overcome)

  6. I can’t help but think of students who are unmotivated or lazy. If they don’t have to learn about anything except the subjects they like – doesn’t that hurt students’ mastery of important academic areas? In other words, if a student is not a proficient reader, and that student is not required to read – it would logically follow that the student’s reading skills would not improve (and would probably even decline).

    1. Hi Zane,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I can’t stress enough that academic achievement is not the goal, explicitly nor implicitly, in Sudbury schools.
      Similarly, it’s inaccurate to say that in Sudbury schools students “don’t have to learn about anything except the subjects they like.” They don’t have to attend classes, or otherwise pursue an area of interest in a structured manner, at all; learning takes place, as with all human beings, all of the time – in play, in conversation, in silent thinking (“daydreaming”,) etc.
      At a Sudbury school, you are constantly exposed to new subjects, fields, areas of knowledge, and skills, because the people around you are all doing different things. Sometimes, you get interested and end up learning more about something someone else is into. It’s certainly helpful that people are often doing things they are keenly interested in, which usually makes them glad to share their passion.

      Reading in particular need not be coerced upon students at a Sudbury school, as written language is a central tool used by Sudbury school communities (and contemporary society as a whole) in order to organize; there are written sign-up sheets for group activities people want to organize, there are written forms for School Meeting motions and Judicial Committee complaints, etc. Students notice early on that reading is important, and they find ways to learn it. I can’t tell you how exactly, but I know that certain kids who came into the school illiterate when we started were reading and writing by the time I graduated (four years later.) If you had asked them how they learned – and we did on occasion – they wouldn’t always be able to tell you themselves. They “just picked it up”, in many cases.

      The same ultimately applies to any skill that is eminently relevant to one’s life – basic arithmetic, computer use, English (here in Israel, that is,) etc. Left to their own devices, in a safe environment full of people and things, children will intuitively identify what they need and seek it out – just like babies everywhere have always done. And if you didn’t happen to pick up some important skill before leaving school, you almost certainly did learn how to pick up new skills in general, allowing you to make up for whatever you missed whenever you really need it.

      I have to go, but here’s a piece I wrote once which you might find relevant to your concerns:

      I’ll try to write more when I have the time, or at least share some more links you might find interesting.


  7. A lot of Sudbury proponents seem to think there is no democratic process or choice in traditional education, but that is incorrect. As a traditional educator, I incorporate self-discovery, choices, autonomy, learning-by-doing, and teaching others as core principles in my classroom. The main difference is that I set world-class education standards, milestones, and goals for my students. After all – how does one know where they are going without some kind of pathway, map, compass, or guide?

    1. maps are relative to where and when they were drawn so. no map unless written for one person with all taken into account will get that person where that person wants. The better solution would be for each individual to learn to create there own map as they go so it will never be outdated and can be changed to get you where you want

    2. If the student doesn’t have the choice to opt out of learning what you or another external party have deemed necessary, then it’s not a truly democratic education. Students at Sudbury schools set their own standards, milestones and goals. That is the difference.

  8. Zane said: ” As a traditional educator, I incorporate self-discovery, choices, autonomy, learning-by-doing, and teaching others as core principles in my classroom.”

    Yes — YOU incorporate those (and impose those), as the teacher. At Sudbury schools, the community incorporates those concepts and they bubble up from the students. It’s not a top-down structure as in a traditional school classroom. And “world class education standards” are meaningless for students who feel trapped and stressed.

    I taught college for 17 years (some of that at a top-20, “world class” institution) and chose SVS for my kids. I haven’t looked back.

  9. How do Sudbury Schools teach kids with learning disabilities in an environment that offers them equal but differentiated educational opportunities?

    What happens when a Sudbury student doesn’t like a particular subject like math or English? Can they simply skip it and focus on things they enjoy like music or social studies? How do Sudbury schools meet state and federal standards, and how do Sudbury students fare on standardized tests? How are teachers and students held accountable for their performance?

    1. I think you’re misunderstanding what a Sudbury school is. Nobody even presents the idea of math to a student, the student is entirely self-directed and upon becoming curious about math, can teach it to themselves or ask someone they know for help. There is no classroom or curriculum in the first place. Nobody is the teacher, everyone is on even ground having an exchange of knowledge. So nobody “skips” math, they start it whenever they realize for themselves that they need or want it. Everyone definitely focuses on what they want to learn. At SVS we don’t believe you can learn against your will.

      Now for your other points:
      On Disabilities:
      A lot of students who come to SVS, my brother was one of them, have been told they have learning disabilities because they can’t work in a traditional school environment. I dont want to erase the experiences of people with learning disabilities but we’ve found that often it is a fault with traditional schools just not being a good fit for that student’s learning style, so the school blames the kid. When that kid comes to SVS, often they find a way to make what they need and the environment of mutual respect really helps too. My brother graduated from SVS with a diploma and now builds sustainable housing projects in Vermont, after taking courses in permaculture and sustainability.

      On meeting government requirements:
      Those requirements are only required to receive funding. Independent schools that are self-sustaining don’t have to meet them.

      On Standardized Tests:
      Most SVS students that apply to college end up taking the SATs. Just within the last few years SVS students have been admitted to Hampshire, Sarah Lawrence, Bryn Mawr, NYU, RIT, the esteemed Canadian Bishop’s University and more. Personally, my SAT scores were >600 in every field (I also took two subject tests except math), except math which was 420. A lot of my friends scored higher than me but I don’t know their scores. SVS students, when they do take the SATs, are actually doing it because they want to so they’re dedicated to doing well. Regularly, we’re in the top 10% of scores.

      On accountability:

      Staff are re-elected each year from a vote by the students. Teachers brought in from outside are brought in by students through a vote. Staff aren’t charged with teaching students, even if they end up doing it upon request, so no outside body sets them on that. Teachers brought in from outside are evaluated by if students think they’re getting what they want out of bringing this teacher in. We don’t believe you can evaluate if a child has learned through testing the child.

  10. Zane:
    I would encourage you to read the Sudbury Valley School blog or check out its Facebook page. I can answer your questions, but I’m not sure my answers will get to the heart of what you seem to be asking.

    The Blog

    Facebook page

    1. Yes, an SVS student can “skip” anything he or she wants to skip — with the exception of required participation in the judicial system of the school and the occasional “trash duty.” Attendance of at least 5 consecutive hours per day is required, but other than that, how you choose to spend your time is up to you. If you want to do math, you’ll do it. If you want to play guitar, you do that.

    2. SVS students are not required to take standardized tests. The school takes no money from the state or federal government and has purposely *not* sought accreditation so that it can be free to pursue its own educational philosophy without interference.

    3. Students are accountable for *every* aspect of their education. Learning is their responsibility. They have to decide what they want to learn and then figure out the best way to go about that and the best people to help them along the way. If they don’t take the initiative, it won’t happen. I suggest you read this blog post on “agency,” written by an SVS staffer:

    4. As far as learning disabilities go, SVS kids don’t get labeled as “learning disabled” because they’re not measured and compared to other kids. Children do come to SVS with labels they’ve received elsewhere, but from what I’ve seen, those kids thrive when they’re allowed to learn at their own pace.

    What I find intriguing is that my kids don’t even think in terms of subjects like “math” or “English.” English is just what you do when you read or write or talk to people. And math is what you use when you’re figuring out how many weeks of allowance you have to save to buy a Barbie dream house. They don’t avoid anything categorically, the way I did as a kid. They don’t think of themselves as “bad” at one thing and “good” at another except in the field that *they* feel competitive about (photography and singing to name two).

    Hope this clarifies some things.

  11. What do staff at a Sudbury school do? Do they pursue their own interests, or do that have specific responsibilities that occupies their time? How is a Sudbury school sustainable, that is how are teachers paid and how are the facilities and utilities paid for? Is a Sudbury school affordable for lower for middle income families? Are teachers compensated fairly, or are they more like volunteers?

    1. Staff (who are not called “teachers” at SVS) and facilities maintenance are funded out of tuition ( And though it’s far lower than at most private schools, tuition isn’t cheap and is not affordable for lower-income families. :(

  12. A fundamental knowledge of history and geography seem to be of particular importance to those who would be self-governed and intellectually, culturally and economically literate. Is introduction to such knowledge something that can be left to college or, for those who don’t pursue such further education, to chance?

      1. The school, which is in most cases funded mainly or solely by tuition fees (an issue I am no longer as comfortable defending as I used to be.)

    1. Hi Terry,
      Sorry this went unanswered for so long.
      The reality is that the traditional approach of forcing student to study these subjects has not proven itself. Many, possibly most, adults lack a real working knowledge of history and geography.
      In a Sudbury school, instead of these becoming despised boring subjects of coerced studies, there will be students who are really into these subjects and aren’t afraid to show it and talk about it, and the odds are not too bad that students will acquire some real knowledge of them – certainly compared to the general population. They will also know how to pursue such knowledge if they become interested in doing so later in life.

      The bottom line is there’s no real way to ensure somebody will learn and internalize history and geography. Neither coercion, nor suggestion or laissez faire can honsetly promise that.

  13. Both of my children graduated from a Sudbury Type school. Plan to send the grandkids there too. I am happy to openly answer any questions about this method of learning.

    1. I have a 5 yr old and a 7 year old and I want to send them to the Sudbury school in Ft.Lauderdale but my husband is not convinced about it. Mainly I think he’s worried that our children won’t actually learn anything. I am %100 convinced they’d love it there and that this is the way of the future. How do I convince my husband? What advice can you give me from your experience? Thank you!!!

      1. There are some videos and books full of stories of Sudbury graduates. They seem to be pretty good for parents with this kind of doubt. I don’t remember specific names (been out of this loop for a while) but maybe other commenters will have some ideas. :)

      2. Hi Charimar,

        I’m also looking to send my children to the Fort Lauderdale school, but next year. My oldest will be kindergarten age next year. I literally just found it this morning, so I have a lot of reading ahead of me.

        What I know right now is that traditional schools give me the heebie jeebies, and I have been horribly let down by my own traditional public education. I’ve learned more as an adult through my kindle and the internet with self directed learning than any other resource, at any time in my life, including college! Isn’t that awful? I want more for my children.

        Anyway, just wanted to say hello

  14. “the student is entirely self-directed and upon becoming curious about math, can teach it to themselves or ask someone they know for help.”

    How does one teach themselves trig, calc or stats? What if no one at the facility knows anything about the subject? Can someone offer an answer besides the usual nebulous “oh, it’s a new form of self directed learning, you wouldn’t understand unless you’ve seen it.”

    1. Well, one can find lots of courses on these things online, for starters. Besides, if nobody at the school is available to teach the subject, and there are no books on hand to help, it’s always possible to find someone outside the school and bring them in to teach just the one subject. At Sudbury Jerusalem there was a whole system set up for funding and organizing this (i.e. for the two or three teachers we brought in at the time.)

    2. I’ve seen kids do a number of things:

      1. Take a community college class or an SAT prep class.
      2. Bring textbooks to school and work through them on their own.
      3. Work with a tutor.

      Being self-directed doesn’t mean “self taught.” It means that if you want to learn something, you come up with your own plan and make it happen. If there’s nobody at SVS that knows what you want to learn, you have to figure out other options.

    3. Graduate here, SVS 98.
      “What if no one at the facility knows anything about the subject?” This is a really interesting question.
      Millions of kids graduate every year without being proficient at calculus, trigonometry, or statistics despite being in an environment where it is spoon fed to them. This reality drives home the overarching philosophy of the school: if you want to learn about a subject, there is nothing on planet Earth that will stop you from learning about it.
      SVS puts students in a position to research their questions. To find their own direction and confidently go where that leads. Sometimes that is a guided experience and sometimes it is lone studying.
      The flip side, and this could not be clearer, is if you don’t want to learn a subject, nothing can make you learn it. In fact, forced ‘education’ can and does turn a student off to particular subjects (often maths) before they are able to guage their own interest.
      People are curious, learning is organic, let it happen.

  15. This kind of schooling intrigues me, I can definitely see how students could learn a lot more by attending a school like this instead of a traditional school. I have a couple of questions though, what do students get when they graduate? I believe colleges usually require some sort of high school degree/gpa items. How Sudbury schools handle these needs/concerns?

    1. Students have to write and defend a thesis to earn a diploma. If they go to a college that requires the SAT, they take it. There are so many homeschooled kids these days that, for many colleges, GPAs aren’t really an issue.

      1. Well, just to be precise, while the diploma system is common in a lot of Sudbury schools, it’s not necessarily part of the model or something every single Sudbury school does. It also depends on the way things work in each country, for example here in Israel anyone can take the official end of highschool exams, so students at the Sudbury schools here just take those if they want them.

        1. I am planning to send my child to the new Houston Sudbury School we have close to our home. She is about to enter 9th grade. My question is do you think a child from a sudbury school can get into Harvard, Princeton, or Rice?

          1. Sudbury Valley School reported that most graduates got into their first choice of college, including the schools you mentioned, and the rest got into their second second choice. So yes. :)

          2. Hi I am a graduate of a Sudbury School myself and A current staff member of Houston Sudbury School. Great question! I just tripped over your post here and would be happy to set up a tour so we can talk in person.

            Here is my email address Looking forward to hearing from you.

  16. Hi, I am currently a 8th grader who stumbled upon Sudbury schools as an essay topic. Any tips for your opinion on the education of Public school vs. Sudbury schools?

    1. Hi Jackie,
      First of all it would be a good idea to specify what you mean by public school – the phrase has very different meanings in the UK vs. the US and I don’t know where you’re from. :)
      Either way, that’s a very general question, but this blog is full of my opinions on education and you’re welcome to look around and see if you find something useful.

      Good luck!

  17. Could someone link me to a website where I can view statistics of the success of Sudbury school students regarding college applications?
    And my most important query is as follows. I don’t know a lot about the education and college application system in the US, but students in my country (and other Asian countries) have to go through a very rigorous class 11-12 curriculum. The SATs require very little skill compared to the amount of knowledge we have to intake. I understand that Sudbury students may aquire other skills more finely, but in this sector they are clearly outpaced by students here – there is no way that a student can willingly study so much without any sort of pressure. So I’m asking – does this create any difference regarding US college applications. Or is that not how things there work? – meaning that they don’t care whether or not you’ve gone through a rigorous high school curriculum.

    1. Hi Subhan,

      Pages 7 and 8 of this PDF will answer your first question.

      As for your second question, I think there may be a cultural difference in the amount of studying in Asian countries vs. in the US. SAT/etc. scores are important for US college applications, but I believe applicants to US colleges are especially valued if they are well rounded, such as having good grades but also lots of volunteer work, or being a self-employed musician, or other things! So, I think the answer is that it doesn’t work the same way — US colleges do not really care whether you’ve gone through a rigorous high school curriculum.

  18. Hi, I’m a 10th grader who is really interested in this type of schooling. I was hoping someone could help me with a few questions…
    1) I know this strays a bit from what the other questions were about, but are there any types of organized athletics at Sudbury schools? I love the sports that I play, and I was wondering if I would be going to one of these schools, but staying on my current public school teams.
    2) Are there any start and end times to the school day? My local school’s website says a full time student does 25+ hrs/week, and I don’t know if that’s within a certain daily time frame. I mean, I understand that what everyone does while they’re there will vary, but are they usually on campus at a certain time, or does it all depend on what they’d like to do that day? (Sorry I don’t know if that made sense)
    3) Is it unheard of for someone who is my age (15) to take online or community college classes to supplement a Sudbury education (so I’m not rushing at the last minute to prepare for SAT, etc).

    I look forward to a reply!

    1. Hi, Rebecca:
      Every school is different, but I’ll answer for Sudbury Valley. My kids (16 and 13) have been going their since they were little.

      1. Kids play a lot of sports at SVS, but I don’t think they’re “organized” in the way that you mean. The kids that are really serious about competing against other teams/schools usually play on AAU teams or on teams at one of the local high schools.

      2. The school is open from 8:30-5:00. You can get there anytime you want, as long as you have 5 hours at school. So, I guess, actually, you’d have to get there by noon. If you come at 8:30, you can leave by 1:30. When my kids were little, they liked to get to school as early as possible, but now they go in around 11.

      3. Lots of kids take online and community college classes as they start to get ready to “move on.” It tends to happen more towards what would be junior and senior year at a traditional school. And, yeah, most of the time it’s to prepare to take the SAT. There are also staff at school that are happy to walk you through math, etc.

      Hope those answers helped.

    2. Hi Rebecca, my 15 year old daughter will be starting Philly Free School next year, and we are exploring your third question as well. My sense is that there is some tension there philosophically, but it is common practice.

      1. I have a student at PFS, and since it was mentioned, I’m replying to Rebekah even though she posted last September.
        1)Organized sports only happen if students organize them.
        2) PFS officially opens at 9 and closes at 4. I believe a student is considered “late” if they arrive past 10:30. The PA requirements, regarding the number of hours that must be attended each day, are different for little kids than big kids and teens, but I think It’s 4 or 5 hours. It’s my understanding that going off-campus doesn’t mean that a student isn’t considered to be “in school,” They’ve left the building, but that doesn’t always mean they’ve left their self-directed education for the day. The students have rules in place regarding the matter. I’m sure they adjust them, if/whenever needed
        Maybe it’d be helpful to think of going off-campus as being somewhat similar to “field trips.”
        3)I’m about to be pushy and give advice. Don’t worry too much about whether or not something you may be interested in is “unheard of.”

  19. I am interested in learning how many schools give School Meeting full and final authority. My child’s school gives School Meeting authority over the day to day things, but it then gives an Assembly, made up of parents/guardians & School Meeting members, authority over changes to the Bylaws, the calendar, staff salaries, the annual budget, and whether or not a student can graduate. Students are outnumbered by the parents in the Assembly. The Assembly also creates committees run by parents.

    1. Hi, Maria:
      Parents used to be part of the “Assembly” at Sudbury Valley School. However, about six years ago the community voted to change that policy. There is an Advisory Board now, but its function is simply to advise, when asked, about any given topic. Advisory Board members have no vote in School Meeting. At SVS School Meeting has full and final authority, in my experience. (My kids, age 16 and 13, have been there since they were 6 and 4, respectively.)

  20. How much is tuition normally for this type of program? I am very interested in sending my son to the one in Austin, Texas. Thoughts?

  21. Hello there,
    I have a question. So are students that go to Sudbury schools graded for courses? If yes, how are they graded? If they are not graded, how can they continue with post-secondary studies and get accepted into colleges and universities?

    1. There are no courses or marks or grades. Students are free to do as they wish. If a student wants to attend a college, they can do whatever they find to be necessary or desirable to 1) prepare themselves for the experience of college 2) be accepted by the colleges if their choice. It’s my limited knowledge that some students decide to take the GED, while others don’t. Some students decide to take college entrance exams, while others don’t. If a student is interested in specific schools, they usually are well informed about those schools. They know if independent evaluations of their skills, knowledge, etc. are required to apply. They are fully aware of how to approach each school’s application process to reflect themselves and their self-directed education. The interviews and essays tend to be where they really shine. They stand out from traditional applicants. They are self-motivated, self-aware, and their decisions and plans have been their own. The fact that they made a free choice to prepare themselves for that college and then accomplished that goal is phenomenal. Admissions personnel see that. Whether or not the student took 6 credits of Geometry during 10th grade doesn’t matter so much. There are others with more knowledge than I. Many have followed Sudbury Valley students’ progress regarding college experiences, jobs, life choices, etc. Hopefully, they’ll chime in or direct you to that information.

      1. Thank you for your response. Many universities/colleges look at specific grades for specific courses when accepting potential students. If students attending Sudbury schools do independent studies, how will they be able to get graded (for each course) so that post-secondary schools can look at these grades?

        1. Short answer: They can’t. (Get graded on independent studies, unless they’re done through an institution that offers grades) Long answer: Yes, Sudbury students lack letter grades for specific courses. If a school won’t admit a student without letter grades for those courses, Sudbury students have to find a way to take those courses and get a grade. (e.g, community college) However, as Maria stated above, grades on single subjects are just one factor in college admissions.

  22. Hi, I’m a 12 year old girl in Kentucky. I am researching Sudbury Schools in an attempt to convince my parents to allow me to go. Any tips on how to approach them or sway them? I attend an expensive private school with 100% of people going on and completing four years of college. There is the fact that these schools are fifteen thousand dollars less, but also only 80% of people going on to college. Help!

  23. Daphne, I admire you for seeking solutions to your problems at just 12 years old. Try searching Sir Ken Robinson and pointing your parents towards his work; he’s written many books and his TED talk is one of the most popular ever given. He doesn’t believe that all children need to aspire to one specific route (i.e. college). Maybe someone with his expertise and credentials will be helpful in persuading your parents. Good luck!

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