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Summerhill School

Coordinates: 52°12′40″N 1°34′22″E / 52.211222°N 1.572639°E / 52.211222; 1.572639
From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Summerhill School
Established 1921
Type Independent Boarding School
Principal Zoë Neill Readhead
Founder A.S. Neill
Location Westward Ho
Ofsted number yes
Staff approx 10 teaching, 5 support
Students 78 students
Gender Co-educational
Ages 5 to 18
Publication The Orange Peel Magazine
Website http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk
52°12′40″N 1°34′22″E / 52.211222°N 1.572639°E / 52.211222; 1.572639

Summerhill School is an independent British boarding school which was founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill (Alexander Sutherland Neill). He believed the school should fit the child, not the other way around.

Summerhill is run as a democratic community. Decisions are made in school meetings, which anyone, staff or pupil, may attend, and at which everyone has an equal vote. These meetings serve as both a legislative and judicial body. Summerhill is the oldest "children's democracy" in the world. It is probably the most famous alternative or 'free' school.

Members of the community are free to do as they please, so long as their actions do not cause any harm to others, according to Neill's principle "Freedom, not Licence". This extends to the freedom for pupils to choose which lessons, if any, they attend.

The school is not large. It varies 60–80 boys and girls with ages ranging from 5 to 17. The school is now owned by Zoë Readhead, the daughter of A.S. Neill.

Does it work?[change | change source]

Apparently it does. The most recent OFSTED inspection of the school reported:

"Evaluation of the school:
Summerhill School provides a good quality of education. It meets all the regulatory requirements for independent schools, which is an improvement from the last inspection. All the points for development outlined in the previous report have been addressed. The school meets its aims very successfully. Strengths of the school include outstanding pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and outstanding promotion of pupils’ welfare health and safety, including effective safeguarding procedures. Pupils’ behaviour is outstanding and they make good progress. The curriculum and teaching and assessment are good. The national minimum standards for boarding schools are met and overall effectiveness for the boarding experience is outstanding". OFSTED: Summerhill School, 2011. [1]

The school did have trouble with OFSTED in the past:

"In March 2000, after a damning report from an OfSTED (Office for Standards in Education) inspection in March 1999, which demanded changes to the Summerhill philosophy, the school won an historic legal battle against the DfEE (Department for Education and Employment) when it defended the rights and voices of its children at an Independent Schools Tribunal". (School website)

Fees[change | change source]

Annual fees are significantly less than most independent schools:

  • Day pupils £3,735–£8,931
  • Boarders £8,568–£14,889

Books about Summerhill[change | change source]

Books by A.S. Neill[change | change source]

  • A Dominie's Log. Herbert Jenkins, 1916; Hart, 1975
  • A Dominie in Doubt. Herbert Jenkins, 1921; Hart, 1975
  • A Dominie Abroad. Herbert Jenkins, 1923
  • The Problem Child. Herbert Jenkins, 1926; McBride, 1928
  • The Problem Parent. Herbert Jenkins, 1932
  • That Dreadful School. Herbert Jenkins, 1937
  • Hearts not Heads in the School. Herbert Jenkins, 1945
  • The Problem Family. Herbert Jenkins, 1949; Hermitage Press, 1949
  • The Free Child. Herbert Jenkins, 1953
  • Summerhill. Gollancz, 1962; Penguin, 1968; Hart 1960
  • Freedon not License! Hart 1966
  • Talking of Summerhill. Gollancz, 1967
  • Neill! Neill! Orange Peel! A personal view of ninety years. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973; Quartet, 1977. New York: Hart. ISBN 978-0-671-81300-0

Other authors[change | change source]

  • Summerhill, a loving World. Photographs by Herb Snitzer, Macmillan, 1964
  • Neill & Summerhill, a man and his work. A pictorial study by John Walmsley, Penguin Education, 1969
  • Inside Summerhill. Photographs by Joshua Popenoe, Hart, 1969
  • Summerhill: For and Against: assessments of A.S. Neill. Harold Hart (ed). Hart, 1970; Angus & Robertson, 1973 (includes essays by Bruno Bettleheim, John Holt, Sylvia Ashton- Warner, Paul Goodman, Fred Hechinger, Erich Fromm).
  • Summerhill Diary. Bjarne Segefjord, Gollancz, 1971
  • Fifty Years of Freedom: A.S. Neill and the evolution of the Summerhill idea. Ray Hemmings, Allen & Unwin 1972
  • Record of a Friendship: the correspondence of Wilhelm Reich and A.S. Neill. Beverley R. Placzek (ed) Gollancz, 1981. ISBN 0-575-03054-2
  • All the best, Neill, letters from Summerhill. Jonathan Croall (ed) Andre Deutsch 1983. ISBN 0-233-97594-2
  • Neill of Summerhill, the permanent rebel. Jonathan Croall, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983. ISBN 0-7100-9300-4
  • The new Summerhill. Albert Lamb (ed) Penguin Education, 1992. ISBN 0-14-016783-8
  • Real Education, Varieties of Freedom. David Gribble, Lib Ed, 1998. ISBN 0-9513997-5-6
  • Summerhill and A.S.Neill. Mark Vaughan (ed) Open University Press 2006. Contributions from Zoë Readhead and Ian Stronach. Introduction by Tim Brighouse. ISBN 0-335-21913-6
  • After Summerhill: what happened to the pupils of Britain's most radical school? Hussein Lucas 2011 ISBN 978-1-84289-052-3 Herbert Adler