Oude Abdij, Abdijdreef 22, 3070 Kortenberg, Belgium
Name of contact person: Sandra Roobaert
Year founded: 2007
Number of students: varies, mostly around 10
Age range of student: 4-19
Number of staff: 3
Type of funding: private
Het Leerhuis is a democratic school where all learning is self-initiated. Its concept is inspired by Sudbury Valley School, a democratic school founded in 1968 in Framingham, MA in the US.
Students aged between 4 and 19 years are free to choose their activities all day long. They decide what they will learn, when, where and with whom.
Classes are organised on students’ request or on the initiative of staff members. There are no compulsory classes.
Age mixing is totally free.
The adults who work in the school are called staff members. Their main task is not to teach but to help and participate in the students’ activities when the need arises and to be responsible for safeguarding the school's concept.
All decisions about the school and all school rules are made in the weekly School Meeting in which every member of the school community has one vote, regardless of age.
Conflicts and violations of school rules that cannot be solved in an informal way are treated by a Judicial Committee that operates several times a week and is composed of students and a staff member.
Het Leerhuis'fundamental premises are:
That people are curious by nature and will learn spontaneously if allowed to do so at their own pace and following their own interests.
That the most profound and lasting learning will take place if it is initiated and pursued by the learner.
That age-mixing among students and staff enhances growth and development in all members of the school community.
That freedom is essential to develop personal responsibility in life.
That students have a right to participate in deciding how their school will be run and which rules there are.
Het Leerhuis today
Het Leerhuis is a small school : it started in February 2007 and generally has around 10 students aged between 4 and 19 years and 3 staff members. We are not recognised nor funded by any authority. This means that Het Leerhuis is a private school and that parents pay school fees.
The school cannot grant an official degree nor certificate. If students want to obtain the certificate of secondary education, they have to pass examinations before the ‘Centrale Examencommissie’ (Central Examination Board). The school provides all help they may need to succeed in this process.
Open to cultural diversity
Het Leerhuis wishes to be a reflection of society's cultural diversity. The school welcomes students speaking languages other than Dutch, which is considered the basic language of the school. The weekly School Meeting and the Judicial Committee operate in Dutch. Apart from that, all students are free to interact with eachother and with staff members in the language they choose.
A school for the 21st century
We live in a society of rapid change, unbridled technological development and immense challenges for the future of our planet. At het Leerhuis, we think that a Sudbury-style education helps young people to develop the skills that are needed to lead a life of fulfillment in the 21st century, no matter which path they will choose to follow: problem-solving, creativity, communicative skills and the ability to make deliberate choices.