Welcome
to our interactive
centenary website

Celebrating 100 years of Summerhill School and the inspirations A.S.Neill has given the world. Join our wider community, share your own story and create a project or two. Also please enjoy new, never seen before insights into our school.

1921-20021 Celebrating a centenary A.S.Neill's Summerhill School

Have a look around.

Welcome from
Zoë Neill Readhead

Welcome to our new centenary website which is commemorating one hundred years of A.S.Neill’s amazing school.  Founded in Dresden, Germany in 1921 Summerhill has survived against all the odds, having been pilloried by the press, misrepresented by the media and harried by Her Majesty’s School Inspectors throughout its history. Add to that the constant battle with financing and it is amazing that it is still here, not only surviving, but thriving!

Never in his wildest dreams could Neill, Neill Orange Peel have imagined that Summerhill would reach such a ripe old age – or that it would be as influential as it has been throughout the world. 

Almost weekly I receive emails saying, not that people have read my father’s books and enjoyed them – but that they have read my father’s books and IT CHANGED THEIR LIVES!

Summerhill’s hundred years give all of us a chance to celebrate the philosophy that Neill created and also to perhaps try to spread the word and find ways of sharing what we have been doing here with more people and schools worldwide.

This website has been created to celebrate interactively with all of you.  We encourage you to get involved and to tell us just what A.S.Neill, his books and his ideas have done for you or how they have affected you in your own life or that of your school.

Please make sure that you go and check out the pages about our proposed A.S.Neill Archive and Research Centre. This is a very exciting project that will enable serious research into educating the ‘whole’ child, the importance of childhood in its natural sense, and how a ‘Neillian’ education can prepare young people better for the world they live in. So, a truly sustainable education for a newly sustainable world.

It will also provide a professional standard archive to ensure that Summerhill and everything that makes it so special will be preserved for the next hundred years!

We will need some help with the financing of this building, so anything you can think of or feel you may be able to do to help with this would be amazing.

Enjoy the site, don’t forget to raise us a glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve as the clock strikes midnight into 2021 and we hope to see many of you at some of our events.

Best wishes to all,

Zoë 

Jay

I never know how to start presenting myself! Although I do not seem shy to many, I can be quite shy... This is Jay, I'm from Brazil but living in Europe since 2007; the first 8 years I was in London, and now I'm in Sandnes, Norway. In 2016 I started a part-time Master Program in Educational Research through Rudolf Steiner University College in Oslo (I am not a Steiner teacher, my background in teaching before starting the Master had been in the sport of judo). During the master program, I was given a paper to read and had to prepare a lecture to my fellow students (Saffange, 2000). The paper is all about Neill! Feeling that I would be a failure to lecture about A.S. Neill without touching down at Summerhill ( I still feel I know nothing about 'this man'), I flew from Norway to England for a day visit. The game changed completely: instead of writing my thesis on a Sports' topic, my topic surrounds Democratic Education; my research questions were inspired by a boy (not sure if I can mention his name here) who was playing in the sandbox at Summerhill during that first visit. My second visit was during the 'Summerhill Experience' in 2019, where many enthusiasts like me gathered together to live as a Summerhillian for 5 days. I have said this before and I'll repeat it here: for me, going to Summerhill is like going home; a home that every child has the rights to have . Since then, I have met many wonderful people who are genuinely fighting for the rights of children to be agents of their own lives from young age: citizens of today, not citizens in construction. So I will always be thankful for having met Neill, Summerhill, and everyone who carries the legacy ahead to remind us what is possible (and impossible!). P.s.: In the picture, I am Chaplin (I got very happy when I discovered that Neill was a fan of Chaplin too, so thought it to be a nice profile pic to have!)

Reinier Bosch

I have worked at democratic schools for the past 13 years and have visited Summerhill 4 times in different settings and have always loved to be there. Every time has brought me al lot of reminders why it is so important to contribute to dem education in my own way.

Tom Fischer

WEBSITE

After finishing school in Germany in 2012, I did a 4 week internship at Summerhill in early 2013. I studied to become a maths and german teacher afterwards and am now in the last part of my teacher training at a new Montessori school in Potsdam, Germany. My time at Summerhill has had a massive impact on my pedagogical beliefs and my views regarding how school, learning and teaching should be. I will never forget those 4 happy and exciting weeks in Leiston, the pupils and teachers I've met, the school newspaper we produced and the circus show we put on. Thank you for everything! :)

Hildebrand Weisenborn

I was a student at Summerhill. Needless to say Summerhill has had a profound effect on my life and I still think back on my time at Summerhill very fondly. Beyond helping me find myself and find my passions in life, I think Summerhill has made me a kinder, more understanding person towards those around me. Summerhill has helped me gain a foundational understanding of who I am that has helped me more than any set of regular school lessons could have helped me - for which I am grateful.

Montserrat Ortiz

When I was 16 years old, I started questioning the validity of traditional teaching, which was solely focused on the purpose of memorizing data with no meaning to myself. Talking with a teacher I had back then, she recommended me reading the book by A.S. Neill, this book showed me a different way of learning based on my own interest and abilities. Throughout my life I have been teaching in different academic levels from Highschool up to Masters degrees, always applying the methods I learnt form A.S. Neill as much as the system allowed me to, helping the students to discover their own interests. Now I have a daughter teaching at Summerhill, and she has taught me so much more about the method, and I keep adding it to my own way of teaching.

Phoenix Education

WEBSITE

A UK charity collaborating with your school community to activate student and teacher voice, agency and autonomy. We collaborated with Summerhill School on the 2018 Freedom to Learn Forum.