Bar Committee, Beddies Officer, Book Keeper, Café Committee, Chairman, End of Term Picture Committee, External Affairs Committee, Fines Officer, Fairtrade Committee, Gram Committee, Health and Safety Committee, Investigations Committee, Library and DVD Library Committee, Ombudsmen, Special Ombudsmen, Peg Officer, Pet Committee, Room Ombudsmen, Secretary, Social Committee, Visitors Committee, Work Fines Supervisor , Screening Police, Cleaning specific areas, Kitchen helper
Raises money for special events (Valentine’s Day Party, Guy Fawkes, Halloween Party, End of Term Party), by organising shops that sell food and drinks; advertising the shops within the school, stock-taking, buying appropriate stock, keeping accounts; organising social fundraising events such as fried breakfasts, barbecues, a café, film shows, fashion shows etc.
Beddies Officer (BO)
Enforces the bedtime laws. Directs the various areas at their respective bedtimes, ensuring that children are in their pyjamas, that the youngest clean their teeth, that they go to bed and switch lights off at the required times. Is on call to make sure children do not get up during the night. Wakes children and staff up and makes sure they are out of bed and dressed at the required times. Imposes fines for breaking the rules that have been agreed on in the school meetings. Represents the authority of the community in order to maintain the silence hour. There are also Super Beddies Officers (SBO). These SBOs need to have a good understanding and experience of the bedtime system, are elected by the school meeting and can add authority or insight into challenging situations.
The book keeper makes sure that the Law Book is kept up-to-date. Follows all the changes made in the General Meeting and adds, changes or deletes laws accordingly. Also checks if people who got an exception for a law have written it in the Law Book.
Responsible for the school Café and opening it for various functions, varying from discussions to social events. The work involves cooking, cleaning, buying of products, planning menus, stock-taking, etc. Also ensuring that those using it are responsible and clean up after themselves.
Responsible for controlling the community meetings, three days per week, that decide upon rules and rights within the community. Keeps the meeting orderly and structured. Controls who is speaking, evaluates the relevance of what is said to the case in point, controls the time spent on each case, monitors the room for misbehaviour and people wanting to speak, counts the vote and makes rulings of procedure or interpretations of disputed points. The chairman must maintain impartiality towards the cases, and has total power of control in the meetings, as well as being responsible for their atmosphere and fairness. Meetings are not compulsory but are likely to contain up to sixty people at a time.
End of term Picture Committee
Responsible for decoration and organisation of the end of term parties. This involves closure of the main lounge for approximately 5 days while a massive decoration programme is implemented. There is a limited budget and financial records must be kept. It is a particularly responsible role, as there are high expectations for the party. There is also a Half term Picture Committee that does a similar job on a much smaller scale for the half term party.
External Affairs Committee
Visits other schools to talk about Summerhill, offering workshops. Also attends conferences, meetings etc. connected with Children’s Rights and Democracy in schools. This committee can expect to talk in public forums, lead workshops, interview for the media etc.
Responsible for monitoring fines as they are voted in the Meeting. Collects money and keeps records. This is a regular task and demands organisational, maths and recording skills, as well as a degree of diplomacy!
Ensures that during public events when refreshments are sold, community funds is invested in fair trade products (teas and coffees). The committee has a limited budget (the community votes on the amount) and financial records are kept. They prepare the drinks and are also responsible for the sale.
Responsible for playing the school disco up to three nights a week and on party nights. Takes responsibility for the equipment care and maintenance.
Health and Safety Committee
Responsible for ensuring that all living accommodation is kept to a safe and reasonably clean standard. Makes several inspections each term, cataloguing and following up cases. Looks out for both health and safety issues such as dirt, obstacles, dangerous wiring or use of electric items etc.
Responsible for investigating cases of theft within the community. Develops diplomacy, observation and listening skills. Have certain powers given by the community for searching belongings etc.
Library and DVD Library Committee
Responsible for the welfare of the Library books and the DVD library.
Are available when disputes arise between community members. They listen to disagreements and evaluate the problem as impartially as possible. They encourage the two sides to talk, try to understand and interpret the cause of the dispute, and try to negotiate a settlement between the two sides. They will represent the person who has been wronged by submitting the case to the community meeting. Ombudsmen have several powers given by the school meeting, such as temporary confiscation of dangerous objects or banning from certain areas.
Are elected by the school meeting for special cases such as when a child is particularly vulnerable to teasing or is a particularly bad bully. This ombudsman naturally gets to know the whole picture and is therefore able to offer more insight into situations.
Responsible for maintaining the sign-out peg board. This is a responsible post, monitoring whether community members are using the sign-out system correctly. The Peg Officer ensures that everybody has an identifiable peg and uses it correctly.
Responsible for the welfare of pets in the community.
Responsible for checking rooms, particularly of the younger children, to ensure they are not cluttered or unreasonably dirty before the cleaners come each day.
Keeps minutes of the school meetings, written in longhand. Organises what is said into short, descriptive sentences. Sorts the proposals into a practicable order. Assists the chairman with proposals. Reads the Tribunal report at the general meeting.
Creates a social programme, especially during the cold winter months, involving games, drama, dance, quizzes, storytelling, debates, competitions, video nights and discussions. Organises games sometimes involving as many as thirty to forty people. The committee meets to monitor and evaluate social events, and to decide upon appropriate action.
Meets individual visitors or groups of up to thirty, from around the world, and gives guided tours. The visitors can be journalists, educationalists, students, professors, police trainers. Must communicate clearly and with personal insight of the complex landscape, social life and philosophy of the community. Answers questions and controls excessive inquisitiveness that may invade the individual’s privacy. Explains and enforces the rules of the community with regards to visitors.
Work Fines Supervisor
Organises and supervises periods of physical work (e.g. litter pick-up, cleaning school areas etc.) for people given work fines by the community. Assesses the quality of the work and brings to the community meetings any problems, such as failure to do the fine.
Responsible for upholding the screening laws. Not always an easy task as a number of people may contravene these throughout a term, many of whom may be contemporaries of the officer. So, subtlety and confidence are an asset.
Cleaning specific areas
This is an actual ‘job’. You get paid weekly and are given the task of cleaning a certain area such as the Art room, Science lab or class Two.
A paid ‘proper’ job. Hired by the catering staff and available to help with washing up, preparation of food and serving meals. This is an evening or weekend job and is taken very seriously with a high expectation of work ethic and punctuality.
Of course, being a member of a self-governing community in which everybody has equal rights teaches each participant a great number of things, even if they do not actually take an active part:
- Taking responsibility for your community.
- Learning to be responsible for your own actions.
- Listening to cases and discussion in the meetings – and then casting your vote (which could be the decider on an important issue).
- Hearing and discussing other people’s cases however trivial they may seem.
- Being aware that what you have to say is important and can change life in the school.
- Last but not least, being brought up in the School Meeting for contravening the school laws.