A.S.Neill’s Summerhill School

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Summerhill is as unlike a conventional school as it could possibly be. Founded one hundred years ago to provide a space where children can grow in a ‘free-range’ environment.

A.S. Neill, founder of Summerhill, set out to make a school that would fit the child rather than forcing pupils to do what parents and educators thought might be best for them.


“Summerhill is a real place, not a utopia. Living in a community of around one hundred people is not always easy. Everybody is learning about themselves, and on a bleak January day, with the east wind blowing things are sometimes not wonderful!

But Summerhill in summer time is lush, green and not unlike never-never land. It is more of a family or a tribe than a school — full of companionship, laughter and real feelings. For many Summerhill pupils it becomes the most meaningful experience in their lives.”

—Zoë Readhead, Principal of Summerhill


 “This expectation that everybody will achieve academically is a curse to many, many young people.’ Parents should try not to have expectations of who or what their children will become: ‘you can not decide whether they will be a road sweeper, a great surgeon or an opera star.’ Children need to know their parents are on their side, acting as their champions, for example: ‘Always take the side of your child on the issue of too much homework or test results.”

— Zoë Neill Readhead