About Me



My passion and energy for wanting to transform the education system emanates from personal and professional experience. The more that I listen to the stories of children and young people, and the more that I dive into research, the more determined I am to try and make a difference.

I spent the first fifteen years of my professional life working in the community and voluntary sector, specifically in HIV organisations, women’s centres and youth projects. But it was my decade at a drop-in centre for socially excluded and disadvantaged young people that gave me a deep personal connection with the young people who continue, to this day, to inspire me. They showed me that despite being labelled as ‘failures’ by the school system, they could actually be creative, intelligent and highly motivated. They had simply been failed by a system that was not set up to meet their needs.

I worked as a university academic from 2007-2020, where my hunger for changing the system led me to specialise in teaching and research about inclusive education, equalities, freedom, democracy and social justice. I have had the privilege of visiting many schools in the UK and around the world and I have been invited to speak to several international conferences. I am continually inspired by the young people, teachers, school leaders and academics who challenge the status quo and offer a different – and better – type of learning. I remain deeply convinced that we need to radically change the education system and that we need to do this as a matter of urgency.

I have seen schools without classrooms or walls, without head teachers and without a curriculum. I have been to universities where students design their own degrees. I’ve seen lessons which take place in sign language and community meetings where children make the rules. And more recently, I have heard about young people learning in wild places, through deep immersive wilderness experiences. This research – about wild education – has lit a fire within me. It helps me make sense of my own adventures in the wild, my thirst to connect with wolves and birds and rivers and trees, my uncomfortable realisation about how disconnected I felt from the wilder world. I have become passionate about a new form of educating which locates us, as human beings, as a part of an interconnected natural world, rather than as separate from it. I founded Rewilding Education, a social enterprise that strives to create healthier, fairer and wilder ways of educating children, young people and adults and I co-lead The Lodge, a radical consent-based and self-directed learning community for home educated children in Hertfordshire and Essex.

I work as a facilitator, an educator, a researcher, an activist, and a writer. All my work is built on my belief that the most important thing we can do for our young people, and for ourselves, is to revolutionise the current education system. I am confident that the best way to do that is to offer greater freedom within education, to advance social justice and to deepen our connections with the wild world.



We need to be student-led, which means they need to be seen, heard, understood, respected, and valued. Children and young people have important stories and they will tell us what we need to know about how to transform the educational experience. Teachers do not always know best. The curriculum should not always come first. This applies whether our students are aged 3 or 13 or 47 or 60.


Our role as teachers, as lecturers, as facilitators, should be to devise imaginative learning opportunities, to hold people safely and within boundaries, to challenge them, and to let go of our own anxiety. Play should be an integral part of learning, and we need to trust that students are curious, capable, and keen to learn. We do not need to tell them what to do. We do not need to be in total control of everything. Given a safe, supportive and stimulating environment, students will push themselves harder than we would ever be able to.


Education, like all other elements of life, is inherently political, meaning that it is tied up with power. Education systems can reproduce and replicate power imbalances and can favour some students and disadvantage others. We need to be switched on to these issues and work to equalise power within our own spaces. This applies to all educators, whether they are in school classrooms, in universities, in community settings, in forests, on beaches, or in online arenas.


Learning should be relevant and useful in the wider world. Given that the planet is in crisis, and that human beings are almost totally disconnected from the natural environment, education has a vital role to play in helping people to reconnect with the wild world, and in turn, to their own wild selves. This means reimagining education so that human beings are part of, and not separate from, the natural world.


The teaching profession has been devalued and mistrusted and teachers feel unable to make decisions about how and what to teach. Students need to have power to make their own decisions, but teachers need freedom too. We need to support teachers so that they can challenge the systems from the inside.



Here is a list of many of my personal and co-authored publications and presentations. If you have trouble accessing any of them, please contact me and I’ll try and find a way of sending you a copy.

Journal Articles

Jones, L., Dean, C., Dunhill, A., Hope, M.A., Shaw, P. A. (2020) We are the same as everyone else just with a different and unique backstory’: Identity, belonging and ‘othering’ within education for young people who are ‘looked after. Children and Society. DOI: 10.1111/chso.12382

Hope, M.A. and Hall, J.J. (2018) ‘This feels like a whole new thing’: A case study of a new LGBTQ-affirming school and its role in developing ‘inclusions’. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 22:12, 1320-1332, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2018.1427152

Hope, M.A. and Hall, J.J. (2018) ‘Other spaces’ for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) students: positioning LGBTQ-affirming schools as sites of resistance within inclusive education. British Journal of Sociology of Education. DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2018.1500273

Hope, M.A. (2018) Democratic Education in Universities: Pushing at the Boundaries. Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives. 7 (1) pp. 42-45. Available at: http://www.othereducation.org/index.php/OE

Hope, M.A. (2017) Re-framing ‘Attainment’: creating and developing spaces for learning within schools. FORUM: for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, 59 (3), pp413-422

Montgomery, C. & Hope, M., A. (2016). Thinking the Yet to be Thought: envisioning autonomous and alternative pedagogies for socially just education. FORUM: for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, 58 (3), 307-314.

Messiou, K. and Hope, M. (2015) The danger of subverting students’ views in schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education (doi:10.1080/13603116.2015.1024763). 

Messiou, K. Ainscow, M., Echeita, G., Goldrick, S., Hope, M., Paes, I., Sandoval, M., Simon, C. and Vitorino, T. (2015) Learning from differences: a strategy for teacher development in respect to student diversity. School Effectiveness and School Improvement 27:1, 45-61 (doi:10.1080/09243453.2014.966726).

Hope, M.A. & Stevens, R. (2014) State schools in England, 1944-2014: Why social segregation and inequality still thrives in a ‘comprehensive’ system. Scuola Democratica. Online. DOI: 10.12828/77687. Available at: http://www.rivisteweb.it/issn/1129-731X

Adderley, R.J., Hope, M.A., Hughes, G.C., Jones, L., Messiou, K., and Shaw, P.A. (2014) Exploring inclusive practices in primary schools: focusing on children’s voices. European Journal of Special Needs Education. DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2014.964580

Hope, Max (2013) Conceptions of Person-Centered Education in the 21st Century: developing a position statement for ways of being in educational organizations. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies.

Hope, Max. (2012) The Importance of Belonging: Learning from the Student Experience of Democratic Education. Journal of School Leadership. Volume 22, Issue 4. Pages 733-750.

Hope, Max. (2012) Localism, Decentralisation and Free Schools – is there a green light for a radical alternative within England’s state education system? International Studies in Educational Administration. Volume 40, Issue 1. Pages 89-102.

Hope, Max (2012) Small and perfectly formed? Is democracy an alternative approach to school leadership?  School Leadership and Management. Volume 32. Issue 3. Pages 291-305.

Hope, Max (2012) Becoming citizens through school experience: a case study of democracy in practice. International Journal of Progressive Education. Volume 8. Issue 3. Pages 94-109.

Hope, Max (2012) Youth Work and State Education. Should Youth Workers apply to set up a Free School? Youth and Policy. Number 109. Pages 60-70.


Hope, Max A. (2010) Trust me, I’m a student: An exploration through Grounded Theory of the student experience in two small schools. PhD: University of Hull.


Hope, Max (2006) Learning the Lessons: how young people taught us everything we needed to know. Hull: University of Hull and The Warren. Download Here


Hope, M.A. (2019) Reclaiming freedom in education: Theories and practices of radical free school education. Abingdon, Routledge. Available Here

Fitzsimons, A., Hope, M., Cooper, C. & Russell, K. (2011) Empowerment and Participation in Youth Work. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Available Here
Book Chapters


Hall, J.J. and Hope, M.A. (2018) Lost in Translation: Naming Practices and Public Feelings towards “Gay Schools” in Talburt, S. (Ed), Youth Sexualities: Public Feelings and Contemporary Cultural Politics. Publisher: Praeger

Hope, M.A. and Montgomery, C. (2016) Creating spaces for autonomy: the architecture of learning and thinking in Danish schools and universities. In Lees, H. and Noddings, N. (eds) The Palgrave International Handbook of Alternative Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Hope, M.A.  Alternative Provision Free Schools: educational fireworks or sparks of optimism for disengaged and excluded young people? in Cooper, C., Gormally, S. And Hughes, G. (eds) (2015) Socially Justice and Radical Alternatives for Education and Youth Work Practice: Re-imagining Ways of Working with Young People. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Hope, M.A. (2015) Developing active citizenship in schools: a case study of democracy in practice. In Eryaman, M.Y. and Bertram B. (eds.) (2015) International Handbook of Progressive Education. Peter Lang Publishing, New York.

Talks and Presentations

International Presentations

Hope, M (2017) Enabling ‘freedom to learn’ for all students: international innovations which create new spaces for learning and thinking within education. Education Transforms Symposium 2017. Hobart: University of Tasmania [invited keynote].

Hope, M.A. and Hall, J.J. (2016) Radical Inclusivity / Exclusivity: Reconsidering ‘exclusive’ schools and their role within ‘inclusive’ education. Gender Studies MA Class. Atlanta: University of Georgia [invited session].

Hope, M. (2016) Freedom: how is ‘freedom’ defined and experienced by staff and students within democratic schools, colleges and universities? International Democratic Education Conference. Finland: Mikkeli.

Hope. M., & Quintas, H. (September 2012) Strategies for responding to student diversity: quality and relevance. European Conference on Educational Research. Cadiz: EERA.

Hope, M. (April 2012) The Importance of Belonging: Learning from the Student Experience of Democratic Education. American Educational Research Association Conference. Vancouver: AERA.


Hope, M. (2019) Advancing freedom and social justice: new insights from radical and alternative models of schooling. Institute of Applied Ethics Public Lecture. Hull: University of Hull. [invited speaker] The whole session is available, with slides here 

Hope, M. (2019) Advancing freedom and social justice: new insights from radical and alternative models of schooling. Plymouth: Plymouth University. [invited speaker]

Hope, M. (2018) Host of International Panel Discussion:  Freedom, autonomy, and social justice in alternative educational environments in the UK and Australia. British Educational Research Association Conference. Newcastle: University of Northumbria.

Hope, M. (2017) Host of Panel Discussion: What is ‘alternative’ about ‘alternative education’? British Educational Research Association Conference. Brighton: University of Sussex.

Hope, M. (2016) Keynote: Enabling ‘freedom to learn’ for all: research collaborations to create spaces for learning and thinking. Northumbria Research Festival. Newcastle: University of Northumbria [invited keynote].

Hope, M. (2016) Freedom for students, liberation for teachers: how using democratic and student-led learning improves schooling for all. Northern Rocks: Reclaiming Pedagogy. Leeds.

Hope, M. & Messiou, K. (2015) Inclusive practices and students’ voices: the danger of subverting voice initiatives in schools. British Educational Research Association Conference. Belfast: Queens University.

Hope, M. And Montgomery, C. (2014) Exploring student and staff perspectives on freedom and autonomy: a cross-sectoral case study from Denmark. British Educational Research Association Conference. London: Institute of Education.

Hope, M., Goldrick, S. & Simon, C. (2013) Engaging with students’ voices as a strategy for teachers’ professional development. British Educational Research Association Conference. Brighton: University of Sussex.

Adderley, R., Garbutt, C., Hope, M., Hughes, G., Jones, L., McDonald, K, Shaw, P. & Walker, E. (2013) Inside/out: researching inclusion through engaging with students’ voices. British Educational Research Association Conference. Brighton: University of Sussex.

Hope, M. (2013) Free Schools: are they blurring the distinction between schools and youth work? Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference. London: RGS-IBG.

Hope, M. & Hughes, G. (2013) (Dis)connectedness: How interpersonal relationships are pivotal in inclusion and exclusion discourses. Discourse Power Resistance 13. London: University of Greenwich.

Adderley, R., Hope, M., Hughes, G., Jones, L., Messiou, K. & Shaw, P. (2012) Exploring inclusive practices in primary schools: Focusing on students’ views. Children, Young People and Adults: Extending the Conversation, Preston: University of Central Lancashire.


I have had many influences in my life and wanted to share some here. These are liable to change as I am continually reading, watching and learning new stuff …

My Top 20 Books

Baker, N. (2017). ReWild: the art of returning to nature. London, Quarto.

Burke, C. and I. Grosvenor (2003). The School I’d Like: Children and Young People’s Reflections on an Education for the 21st Century. Oxon, Routledge.

Elton, B. (2012). Two Brothers. London, Transworld Publishers.               

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London, Penguin Books.

Golding, W. (1954). Lord of the Flies. London, Faber and Faber.               

Gribble, D., J (1998). Worlds Apart. London, Libertarian Education.               

Haan, L. D. and S. Nijland (2002). King and King. California, Tricycle Press.               

Holt, J. (1972). Freedom and Beyond. New York, E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.               

hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to Trangress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Oxon, Routledge.               

Hosseini, K. (2003). The Kite Runner. London, Bloomsbury.               

Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott & Co.               

Macy, J. and C. Johnstone (2012). Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy. California, New World Library.               

Miller, M. (2012). The Song of Achilles. London, Bloomsbury.               

Monbiot, G. (2013). Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life. London, Penguin Books.               

Orwell, G. (1949). 1984. London, Penguin Books.               

Palmer, P. J. (2007). The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.               

Plotkin, B. (2013). Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche. California, New World Library.               

Rogers, C. (1969). Freedom to Learn. Ohio, Charles E. Merrill Publishing Co.               

Sendak, M. (1963). Where The Wild Things Are. New York, Harper & Row.               

Torday, P. (2013). The Last Wild. London, Quercus Children’s Books.

My Top 12 Quotes

“i am 15 years old, somebody is trying to make me add up, when all that i want to do is multiply” – anon student

“True education does not quiet things down, it stirs them up. It awakens consciousness. It destroys myth. It empowers people.” John Holt.

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” Gloria Steinem.

“Inclusive education is first and foremost a political position; it offers an audacious challenge to the attachment of ascending and descending values to different people.” Roger Slee.

“Never underestimate the power of being seen.” Brene Brown.

“If the underlying concept of what is often referred to as ecological rewilding is about creating fully functional eco-systems, then self-rewilding is about creating fully functional humans, free from ignorance and ecological prejudice, able to engage with the wild world and each other in a better, more compassionate way.” Nick Baker.

“Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.” Oprah Winfrey.

“Children do not need teaching as much as they need love and understanding.” A.S. Neill.

“Tinkering with an unjust educational system is not going to transform it into a just system. What we need are totally different ways of envisioning education.” Diane Reay.

 “Some people see rewilding as a human retreat from nature; I see it as a re-involvement. I would like to see the reintroduction into the wild not only of wolves, lynx, wolverines, beavers, boar, moose, bison … but also of human beings.” George Monbiot.

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen.” – J.K Rowling

“As long as I fight, I am moved by hope; and if I fight with hope, then I can wait.” Paolo Freire.

My Top 5 Films

Freedom Writers [2007] – Watch the Trailer

Kes [1969] – Watch the Trailer

Into the Wild [2007] – Watch the Trailer

Pride [2014] – Watch the Trailer

Captain Fantastic [2016] – Watch the Trailer