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 

Ally Kessler

I'm an ex-Summerhillian and am eternally grateful for the years I spent there, and how they influenced and supported me throughout my life. The principles of allowing children to become themselves unencumbered by parental anxiety were very important to me as a parent, and the space for freedom of thought and creativity also influences my work as a psychotherapist. It was great to discover Neill's connections with psychoanalysis in later years.

Esther

My German school teacher told me to do a presentation on Summerhill School when I was 16 years old. He said I would probably quite like their Philosophy. He knew me better then I thought. I absolutely love it and Summerhill influenced my way of thinking about education ever since. I started working at Summerhill in the year 2000 as a German teacher and Class 1 assistant, later also taught English as a Foreign Language and now I'm the Shack Houseparent and a passionate gardener. I always enjoy some art and craft projects and cooking with the younger kids. And I guess with them I'm best known as the one who opens and cleans the pool.

Mike Weimann

WEBSITE

I visited Summerhill School with a group of children's rights activists (http://kraetzae.de/schule/england/) and as a follow-up to this we later hosted IDEC 2005 in Berlin (http://idec2005.org). We were so happy to have Zoe Readhead there. She then became an important part of our documentary movie "Democratic Schools" (http://democratic-schools.com). These three occasions are only the tip of the iceberg called Summerhill! Without Summerhill my life would have been completely different. (I don't want to imagine!)

Hank Khost

Around 1990 I gave my then 15 year old son, Alex, a copy of A.S. Neill's book, Summerhill. He devoured it, loved it, internalized it, and it determined the course of his life. Since then, Alex has: founded a democratic school (The Teddy McArdle School), lectured on education and child rearing in far-flung places such as Turkey, become a factor in the American ASDE (Alliance for Self Directed Education) editing their Tipping Points Magazine, co-founded the kids run "play:groundNY",and now teaches at New York's Brooklyn Apple Academy. Alex also visited The Summerhill School a few years ago and had a great time interacting with the students and staff.

Gözde Atalay Kokkoris

I am a creative drama and physical theater teacher as well as a performer. I've been working in different schools and projects with children, teens and adults since 2004. I've been always interested and fascinated with the unpredictable 'nature' of human beings, the life surprises and the beauty of the differences. So I've made a research and I've started to work with the creative potentials of our untamed parts, the power of mistakes and the illusions of failure. A vast field of discovering new tools for the evolution of education. I've heard beautiful comments about Summerhill School from different students who participated in my pedagogy workshops '' Creative Potential of Failure''. They were sharing their experiences from Summerhill School projects or gatherings. So I am very curious and interest for this beautiful community.

Taline Schubach

WEBSITE

The first time I heard about Summerhill was in Brazil (I’m from Rio), almost 20 years ago when I was part of a Reichian child care study group. (Reich borrowed from Neill the core concept of self-regulation.) Years later, in Spain, I returned to studying neurosis prevention in children from a Reichian perspective and the letters exchanged between Reich and Neill were part of our readings. I also read “Summerhill” (1963) and at that time and visited a Spanish school based on Summerhill’s ideals. What I’ve read and what I saw at that school in Spain made such a sense than from that I managed to move to UK just to be closer to Summerhill. I had to see for myself how this school was up close ! Than last year, recently arrived to UK, I had the pleasure to live the Summerhill Experience... and I am totally in love. So when I’ll have children (one day, I am not a mother yet), they could be raised in freedom, with respect and being part a amazing community. For me it is just magical to be part of this 100 years celebrations! I hardly believe I’m here!