Sociocracy in Entire Schools – FOR ADMINISTRATORS

Photo by Mary Taylor from Pexels

Sociocracy (also known as dynamic governance) can be implemented at the school-wide level to create a more efficient and inclusive administration, and to empower students, staff, and teachers to participate in governance. School leaders find that using sociocracy creates:

  • More efficient meetings
  • Greater investment in outcomes
  • Novel solutions to problems

Why sociocracy in schools?

Building a successful school

Unprecedented growth

“Rainbow Community School underwent a dramatic transformation after adopting sociocracy. The school changed its mission and vision, almost doubled enrollment, and more than doubled the size of its campus within two years. “

Best performing school on reflective judgment test

 “Rainbow students demonstrated reflective capacities. Rainbow’s students as a cohort, scored higher than the 25,000 students Dr. Dawson’s team had previously tested.”

– Renee Owen, former Head of School of Rainbow Community School (article link)

 A system that builds trust

“Before using sociocracy, I saw people who were stressed and angry and hurt and dissatisfied. After a short time using sociocracy I saw these same people relax. They trusted the system, they saw it work, and they felt heard. Everyone belonged to a circle and could experience the circle process of making decisions. This positive energy and experience of feeling heard, and seeing the results of their own input in policies that were changed and developed had a huge positive impact.”

– Rea Gill, former Head of School of High Mowing School

“The problem sociocracy solves is to move conversations away from the water cooler and into group spaces… The most positive outcomes are staff trusting students more, thus exercising the gifts from everyone in the school.”

-Brad Sitzer, head of Grace2Learn

Eliminating bottlenecks

“Before we adopted sociocracy, I as Head of School, led every faculty meeting. My staff sat through many meetings where I made announcement after announcement, asking or feedback but received little more than de facto agreement. When we began using sociocracy at Rainbow, the faculty circle elected its facilitator. I became an equal member of the circle…not only did this completely change the nature of how openly people expressed their various perspectives, but it was also surprisingly liberating for me!”

– Renee Owen, former Head of School of Rainbow Community School (article link)

Staff satisfaction

From staff survey at High Mowing school after a full sociocracy implementation:

  • There is a huge change in morale for the better
  • More is being accomplished
  • There is less complaining and fewer personality conflicts
  • There is a much greater sense of safety in faculty
  • Improved effectiveness, more being accomplished
  • Voices are being heard, collaboration is evident
  • Meeting structure highly effective and productive
  • Decisions seem to make more sense
  • Faculty meeting has more time to focus on students
  • There is better communication

What does sociocracy in schools look like?

Case Studies

Enkindle1 - school governance - Sociocracy For All

Enkindle Village School Case Study

Enkindle Village School is the first independent democratic school in North Queensland, Australia. Egalitarian in nature, the school is founded on democratic principles, with the belief that everyone affected by a decision should have a voice in that decision. 

La croisee des chemins logo sociocracy in schools

La Croisee des Chemins

La Croisée des Chemins, or Crossroads, is a cultural center located in Dijon as well as the first democratic free school in France. It was founded in May 2014 and is a school that used sociocracy for the 6 years of its existence.

LOS students netherlands

LOS Sociocratische Leeromgeving

LOS is a sociocratic school located in the small village of Duerne in the south of the Netherlands. LOS stands for “Leren, Ontdekken, Spelen” – “Learn, Discover, Play”. Instead of classrooms and a curriculum, LOS Deurne has functional spaces in which students and supervisors develop activities. 

holma highschool farming edit - school governance - Sociocracy For All

Holma Folk High School

Established in 2015  the Holma Folkhögskola in Sweden focuses on sustainability, ecological cultivation, permaculture and the transition to a post-oil society. Its aim is to get people into Transition thinking, and the school is unique in how it embodies their green ideology. Since the start the school has been using sociocracy, and it is unique in that all teachers are trained in both permaculture and sociocracy principles

Sociocracy in Schools Video Presentations

Holma Highschool (presentation)

Integrale Tagesschule Winterthur (presentation)

Morey Flextech High School, MI (presentation)

Pathfinder Community School, NC (no longer in operation, presentation)

Rainbow Community School, NC (study)

Cooperativa El Roser (presentation)

What does a school need to implement sociocracy?

people circle - school governance - Sociocracy For All

An initial circle using sociocracy

Schools new to implementation usually start using sociocracy in a single circle, then spread out from there. This guidebook will help you get started.

De vraie ruimte Netherlands school circle structure sociocracy

A school-wide circle structure

An initial circle structure can help expand sociocracy to the whole school once the initial top circle is up and running.

pexels pixabay 261719 - school governance - Sociocracy For All

Governing documents

An initial governing document is essential to spell out who may decide what. This document is typically consented to by an initial top circle such as a board of directors.

Blank template for governing document

Example governing document- Pathfinder

Example governing document- High Mowing School

Example bylaws

elc logo2 350x234 5 - school governance - Sociocracy For All

Ongoing training

Training is essential to ensure there are skilled facilitators at all levels. This 8-hour self-paced training is effective in getting a group started using sociocracy.

“Lectica has tested many other private schools – very good ones – and also public schools of high socio-economic level, but we have never seen scores like Rainbow. […] Rainbow students have remarkable ‘perspectival’ abilities to take the perspective of others, a core aspect of transformative learning.” Source article

Dr. Theo Dawson

How do school circle structures work?

Click through the images to see how others do it.
unico schule circle structureenglish - school governance - Sociocracy For All

De vraie ruimte Netherlands school circle structure sociocracy

Organizational chart - Pathfinders

Morey flextech school circles

The New School Circle Structure March 2021

Integrale Tagesschule Winterthur Circle Structure - Sociocracy For All

School circle structure in sociocracy - Sociocracy For All

Where to go from here?

Facilitacion - school governance - Sociocracy For All

Join SoFA members in a Community of Practice to speak with practitioners from schools all over the world for mutual support. Contact Hope Wilder at [email protected] to join as a visitor. You can also use our online forums to post questions and find answers.