While some may see Sands as a unique place in the world, it is not really. Sands is part of a growing worldwide community of democratic schools. Each year, members of this community meet in a different country to discuss matters relating to democratic education. This meeting is known as IDEC (International Democratic Education Conference). One of the first IDEC meetings was held at Sands, and since then Sands has been represented by students and staff at almost all of them. There is also IDEN (International Democratic Education Network) and AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organisation). Sands is also one of the founding parties of EUDEC (European Democratic Education Community). Sands hosted a combined IDEC and EUDEC conference in 2011 with over 500 people from all over the world attending.
There are two pillars of democratic education:
- self-determined learning
- a learning community based on equality and mutual respect
Within each pillar there is much variation so each democratic school sets its own path and, in this sense, Sands is unique!