Brief history of Phoenix


In the year 2000, the Phoenix Education Trust (PET) was established by Lord Michael Young of Dartington, in collaboration with Park and Sands schools, with the aim to ‘promote and support the development of education in which children and young people are trusted, supported and respected’. Ever since then, we have focussed our activities and resources on furthering this aim, most notably in the form of training services in schools, in which Phoenix introduces some of the mechanisms of democratic education and facilitates collaboration between students and staff to instigate changes to decision-making processes as well as specific aspects of school life. In addition, we have taken proactive steps to foster the network of people involved in democratic education, by attending and hosting events, establishing and coordinating national and international directories, and providing guidance as well as financial support to people wishing to further explore and contribute to the movement. Some of our key achievements include:

  • Co-designing a range of training packages, many of which have been student-led, such as ‘Campaign for Change’ which involved over 6000 young people in making constructive changes in their schools, and ‘Confidence in Communication’, designed by students excluded from school. Currently, we have a diverse assortment of 16 training programmes that can be adapted to the specific needs of any school that wishes to develop its democratic practices
  • Since 2001 PET staff worked hard to establish a representative body of English secondary school students, which recently obtained complete autonomy as a student-led company: StudentVoice
  • PET provided essential financial and strategic support to the European Democratic Education Community (EUDEC), which now represents about 60,000 people and 60 groups from 29 countries who are actively working in the field of democratic education
  • Thanks to the Meadowbrook Trust, PET has administered the provision of almost £50, 000 of travel bursaries enabling teachers and students to visit schools and events to learn about democratic education
  • PET has been involved with a range of campaigns and initiatives to raise awareness of democratic education values. For instance, we organised well-attended State of Education Conference in 2014. The national video competition we instigated with a group of students- ‘Manifesto for Change’- was broadcast on Channel Four, highlighting the changes students wanted to see in education. We have also participated in other networks and think-tank debates, such as the COMPASS Advisory Board for the ‘Inquiry into a New Model of Education’
  • More recently, PET established, and now continues to maintain the UK Democratic Education Directory, which seeks to map and connect the large and growing number of individuals, schools and organisations who practice or support democratic education


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