frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions we are frequently asked. If you have a question that is not answered below and would like to get in touch, you are very welcome to do so.

Where does this fit with the Department of Education?

Under Section 14 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, Tusla is responsible for maintaining a register of all children who are home-educated/schooled or who attend a non-recognised school. This is a straightforward process and our team can assist you with getting started.

Read about it here: Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service 

What is the age range of the school?

Our school will accept students from ages 5-18 years old. Age-mixing is encouraged as research shows how it propels self-directed learning. Younger ones look up to older children with more advanced skills and push themselves to reach new goals. Older students can pass on skills from activities or subjects they have mastered and can easily engage at a level suitable for younger students. This also allows teenagers to take on a role of modelling behaviour and their responsibility within the community. Children can swap between mature conversation, play and imagination, inspired by all ages. 

What are the opening times and attendance requirements?

The school will open from 8.30am – 3.30pm; and follow mainstream timetable of holidays. Students are required to be in school for the core hours of 10am – 2pm, five days a week. We have an understanding that some students may need extra days at home to maintain good mental health or need days off to maintain good energy levels.

Is there a curriculum?

No, we do not follow the Department of Education curriculum nor do we require that anyone takes exams. Every term students and staff will come together to discuss what subjects and activities are to be offered. Individual timetables and structures will be created, that allows for attendance of classes and plenty of free time for self-directed activities. Rooms will deliberately be left free for common use, to allow for spontaneous play and games.

What if my child just sits around all day and attends no classes? 

Yes, some children need to do this. To us it may appear as nothing, but they may be processing a lot and we give them the time to do this. There’s nothing wrong with being bored for a while either; it allows the child time to think about themselves for a change. If they have come from a schooling background, they may need lots of time to figure out how to be responsible for their own time. 

Are there any rules and who enforces them? 

There are rules. A small set of rules that maintain safety and well being of students will be created by staff in the beginning. These rules will be the starting point for the book of school rules. The rules will then be ammended or changed by the students and staff together in a consensus agreement where possible. As to what the outcomes will be when a rule is broken, this will also be agreed between students and staff. 

How is conflict handled in the school?

A core ethos of the school is the purposeful shift towards the use of Non-Violent Communication. This communication lets us reframe how we express ourselves and how we hear others. 

               We do not work on a punative system so when rules are broken and conflicts arise we will use Restorative Practice (RP) tools to resolve the issue and everyone who was involved can be heard in the process. Trying to seek out the root of the behaviour or issue and see how the person can be supported to prevent it happening again, rather than assigning a victim or perpetrator. 

How does my child learn ‘the basics’ if they are not in classes? 

We consider the skills of reading, writing and mathematics to be basic life skills. We have seen first hand and research proves, that children in a self-directed, stimulating environment, pick up these skills as a by-product of engaging with their peers. For instance, writing a comic strip or reading cards for a boardgame, to adding up scores to see if they have won. They learn from other students and then as the need arises they begin to ask for help and resources can be provided for when they wish to achieve higher levels.

Are there organised classes?

Through regular school meetings, decisions are made on group classes which may require a staff member with some specialized skill. Or it may be that resources have to be sourced for a particular discipline, like materials or an online course which can be provided through the school budget.

How does the school maintain safety?  

Staff do not undertake to directly coordinate or manage students. There will be a high ratio of student to staff members. Staff and students collaborate on projects and activities throughout the day, students have access to staff members at all times for support when undertaking a challenging task or if support is required from a safety perspective. While the school environment is strongly focused on collaboration and democratic decision making, student safety is of paramount importance and is the one area a staff member can intervene if a students safety is at risk.

To allow self-directed learning and to ensure students are equipped with the skills needed for various activities such as wood work, baking, science, sport. There is a certification process required to use spaces with tools and equipment. Only students that have completed the training for that space can use the space and associated tools. The training will cover safety protocol and highlight when a more experienced person should be there to assist in an activity.

Can a child with additional needs or neurodiversity enter the school?

Every student will go through the same enrolment process and be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We highly value diversity and inclusion. However, due to the nature of the autonomous and child-led learning environment, we may not be able to adequately support students who might require one-to-one support. We recommend that if you are interested in your child joining the school, please get in touch and we can see if it is the right fit for them.

Who are the staff?

Staff are hired for who they are, how we feel they will fit into our community and for the specific skills they bring. For our school to operate on an inclusive basis we welcome staff from diverse backgrounds. We feel that we have much to learn from a person that has different experiences to our own. 

Adults may or may not have specific educational qualifications but rather demonstrate a desire to work with young people, be passionate about self-directed learning and be committed to the democratic system. This is not a school of hierarchy and all staff must be comfortable with equability amongst all members.  

What are the roles of the staff?

All staff have a responsibility to all students to ensure their emotional and mental well-being within the community. Staff will be selected because they show skills in empathy and respect towards others. They will be paired up with students under a mentoring system and meet on a regular basis to develop a relationship of trust. 

Staff members may be called upon to offer a learning space in a skill or subject area they are proficient in. They are responsible for sourcing the resources students require for any class and subjects the students wish to pursue. They are always available to help students if and when they are asked.  Staff members are ultimately responsible for the administration of the school and the day-to-day smooth functioning; keeping its boundaries of safety and respect. 

How is the school run?

Our school is closely based on a Sudbury model of organisation. All students and staff may participate within a democracy, with each member having an equal vote, and where possible reach a consensus. 

The school is run through a system of committees, students and staff can be part of these committees contributing as much or as little as they wish. The more they contribute the more say they have in shaping their school now and into the future.

Regular whole school meetings are held to pass new laws (rules), actions agreed by committees and to seek approval from the school community for large projects or plans.

Adult staff members are on site at all times and are there to ensure the students well being, safety and the smooth running of the school.

How does the enrolment process work?  

What is the fee structure?

As an independent school we will not receive any funding from the Department of Education or the state. Therefore each member will have to pay fees. Those fees will begin at €4000 per year. We can offer limited subsidised places for siblings, and we would hope that this number grows as the number of full fee paying of students increases. We are registering as a charity and all monies from donations and fundraising will be used to fund the school.