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What says..

One of the most famous and most controversial schools in the world. Founded in 1921 by AS Neill – described on the school website as ‘a Scottish writer and rebel’ - near Dresden, Germany, but moved to a Victorian house in Leiston, two miles from the Suffolk coast in 1927. He decided this would be the ideal place to create a community in which children could be free from adult authority...

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What the school says...

Summerhill School was founded by A.S. Neill and continues to follow his radical philosophy of freedom. Children have the absolute right to attend or not attend classes and they regulate their lives through a democratic meeting where everyone - regardless of age, has an equal vote. Prospective parents are encouraged to visit the school, to read books by A.S. Neill and to visit the web. ...Read more

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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 1985, Zoe Readhead (youthful late 60s) – proprietor, keeper of the ethos and daughter of school's founder, AS Neill. Literally born, bred and educated at Summerhill. Calm, inspiring and probably sees into your soul. Answers as if for the first time questions she has presumably been asked her whole life, her patient vocation to explain her father’s educational vision and the school's core values. Gradually scaling down her day-to-day involvement and preparing to pass the baton to two of her four children, all of whom are intrinsic to the life of the school, in which they were also born, bred and educated – ‘they’ll let me know when they don’t want me here any more.’ Married to Tony, a farmer. Son Henry presides over the music studio and is joint deputy head with...

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Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

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Special Education Needs

Summerhill School offers small class sizes, typically no larger than 1:6 and commonly 1:1 for children with dyslexia or similar learning difficulties. The school environment with its democratic meeting and emphasis on choice and self-regulated behaviour is very attractive to many parents of children with mild autistic spectrum disorders. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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