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Freedom to Learn Forum 2023

At the tail end of the summer 150 people gathered together for the Freedom to Learn Forum 2023 at Sands School, in Ashburton, Devon. The Freedom to Learn Forum is an annual unconference for anyone interested in young people’s rights in education. The Open Space Technology means that anyone can propose or host an event, which fits with our anti-hierarchical values.

Final gathering photo

The Forum was planned by a team of volunteers, including a significant number of young people. This was really important because here at Phoenix we very much wanted to centre young people at this year’s event and we did, with bells on! Many of the events were by and for young people, including: a co-created play; Pokemon meet up; tie-dyeing; anime/manga; Horrible Histories and many more.

Tie dyeing workshop offered by 9 year old Robin

We created a timetable board, which was displayed in the reception area, so participants could add their events to the schedule. The programme was full of fascinating events on a massive range of topics including: youth revolution; accessibility; working in the games industry; is democracy enough?

Workshop by Roma from youth led activist group The RYSE

It was really important to Phoenix that we made this year’s Forum the most accessible ever. We offered a sliding scale for tickets from completely free. We also offered extra support for travel and accommodation on request. This is a win-win for us because we know that financial accessibility only creates richer and more diverse events, as well as being the right thing to do.

It was an incredible weekend of co-created magic that truly centred young people and I left feeling so inspired and motivated to continue with the work of building this movement for freedom, autonomy and social justice. Time to start planning for the Freedom to Learn Forum 2024!

If you’d like to join us for next year’s forum, or get involved with the steering team, please sign up to our mailing list. You can also stay in touch by following us on Facebook and Instagram.


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