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History of Summerhill School
Summerhill School was founded in 1921 at a time when the rights of individuals were less respected than they are today. Children were beaten in most homes at some time or another and discipline was the key word in child upbringing. The school is now a thriving democratic community, showing that children learn to be self-confident, tolerant and considerate .
Summerhill School is one of the most famous schools in the world, and has influenced educational practice in many schools and universities. The democratic schools movement is now blossoming internationally, with many schools far and wide being based upon the philosophy of A. S. Neill or inspired by reading his books.
Summerhill is an international school. Children from England, Germany, Norway, Holland, Switzerland, Poland, China, Israel, America, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, France, Russia, Lithuania etc. study there. It creates a wonderful multi-cultural environment.
It is a boarding school, but they do have day pupils. Some children are very happy to board early, and some prefer to wait for a year or two. A complete Summerhill education usually ends at 17 years of age, though some stay on for an ‘extra’ year if they and the school feel that it is the best thing for them.
There are usually between 65 and 75 children and around 16 full time staff. There are several part time staff and many other adults who help keep the school running smoothly. Summerhill is a small community of children and adults who all live together. The school is set on 11 acres of woods and fields, with plenty of uncultivated areas to play.
A typical Summerhill day
- Breakfast is at 8:00am until 8:45am. At 9:00am a computerised bell announces lessons. Each sign-up student is given a blank timetable at the beginning of term in which they write their lessons.
- In Class 1 (aged 5-9) the teacher can provide a timetable for the week, or organise activities in response to the children’s needs and wishes. Class 2 (aged 10-12) has a sign up at the beginning of term for a wide variety of subjects and activities/projects.
- Classes begin at 9:00am. Mid morning they have a 20-minute break for tea. Lunch is served from 12:20pm — 1:15pm. Lessons finish between 3.00pm and 5:00pm. After that there is free time. You can watch TV, play games, make a hut in the woods, read, play tennis, go swimming. Tea is at 3:00pm — a cup of tea and biscuits. Some days it may be «gram» (disco), or maybe something which has been organised by the «social committee» (word games like «The Paper Game» or action games like «Kick the Can» or «British Bulldog»).
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