Many schools have been established throughout the world that call themselves "Sudbury schools," or state that they are similar to, or inspired by, Sudbury Valley School. Sudbury Valley has never sought to control the use of the word “Sudbury” in the names of such schools, a description which has often been used by other schools like a brand name to indicate that the school in question sees itself as operating much like Sudbury Valley.

Sudbury Valley School does not franchise, sponsor, guide, mentor, or in any way control the operation of any other school. We do offer help to schools and startup groups that seek to form an institution with a similar philosophy of education. We offer a large number of publications on our website and through our bookstore, including a School Planning Kit. We also offer general support through correspondence, conversation, and visits back and forth.

When encountering a school that calls itself a "Sudbury school" one should be aware that Sudbury Valley School has never defined what that term means, nor defined what the criteria are for a claim that a school is like Sudbury Valley. In fact, Sudbury Valley has strenuously opposed the creation of any such definition by others; it is a key element of Sudbury Valley’s philosophy that every group or school should be free to define itself as it wishes, without submitting to an assessment of its definition.

One should be aware when finding lists that purport to enumerate "Sudbury schools" or schools that operate in a manner similar to Sudbury Valley, that any such definition reflects the individual judgment of the persons maintaining such a directory about the nature of the schools on their list. There is no list in existence that can claim to be authoritative, and no authority that can bestow on any list, or any school, a certification that the school in question is in fact similar to Sudbury Valley.