Democratic Education is often classified as the most radical of all innovative educational concepts. Democratic schools are radical in the sense that their pupils are allowed to have complete control over their own learning process. In the Netherlands, the first democratic school opened its doors 12 years ago. Nowadays, there are around 15 democratic schools spread across the country. Among these are publicly funded and privately financed schools. The latter mentioned schools, don’t receive public funding, as they do not meet the state educational requirements (for example, privately financed schools do not use standardized tests, such as the CITO-tests to assess and monitor the results of their pupils).

This group of privately financed democratic schools can be divided into two groups: sociocratic schools and Sudbury schools. Sociocratic schools use a sociocratic model, that ensures that pupils, teachers and parents have an equal say in organizing education and/or the design of the curriculum (according to a consensus-based model) for their school. Sudbury schools are another type of privately financed democratic schools, where pupils have full responsibility for their own learning processes. These schools are governed by a school board (consisting of school staff and pupils), and operate based on a democratic model.

Are you curious how this educational concept is applied in daily practice in Dutch primary schools and whether it would be suited to your own child? What are the differences between democratic schools and Dutch traditional primary schools? You can read more about this in de Keuzegids Basisonderwijs, which you can download for free on this website.