Learning at Summerhill
Summerhill is a school of personal choice, where students must decide each day how they will use their time... they can play, they can involve themselves in a variety of constructive social situations, they can be by themselves to read or daydream, they can engage in self directed group projects and activities, and they can choose to attend formal lessons... each day the children define themselves by choice and action... this is a profound experience that leads to a strong sense of personal and responsibility and self knowledge.
Summerhill is a democratic community of children and adults where issues are discussed at school meetings and children are able to listen, think, and equally contribute to decision making about their own lives. As children progress through the school, the majority of children choose to take more responsibility within the community. Taking on roles such as: Chairman, Secretary, Fines Officer, Ombudsman, Beddies Officer, Café Committee, Bike Committee, Investigation Committee, Buddy to new students, Social Committee, Visitors' Committee etc.
Just as in most other schools, the children have a timetable but classes as well as activities /projects are not compulsory. Each sign-up student is given a blank timetable at the beginning of term on which they write their lessons. The timetable is changed from term to term depending on the choices of the kids and the subjects offered to them.
Children below the age of 12 have their own teachers and classrooms with multi-activity spaces. 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) have a sign up at the beginning of term for a wide variety of subjects and activities/projects. The Class 1 and 2 spaces are carefully designed to allow the children to engage in independent as well as timetabled activity.
The principle of the timetable is to allow the students to make informed choices within the context of a structured day.
The specialist teachers are given a lot of independence in their classrooms, in terms of teaching method and objectives. Senior teachers are expected to be able to teach their subjects up to GCSE level. (The General Certificate of Secondary Education is an academic qualification taken by students aged 14 - 16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland). We do not send reports to parents unless requested - and then only with the child's permission.
The range of formal subjects offered includes:
Science - Biology, Physics, Chemistry
English (Language and Literature)
German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese
Music technology, DJ work, Studio Sessions
Vocal Music (by arrangement)
The range of Class 2 projects offered or suggested by students include:
Whitewings ( airplane construction)
The Game of Diplomacy
Magic Lessons and Show
Psychology for Kids
Thinking Skills and Games
Photography and Photoshop
Plasticene (and what to do with it )
Computer Strategy Games lessons
Writing and making a video
Making a Radio Play
And Much More
Swimming in our own outdoor pool and at the Leiston Leisure Centre.
A range of general activities including crafts, life drawing, sports ( tennis, football, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, badminton), group games, writing for the school newspaper, games and videos in the café, hikes, camping on our 11 acres, playing in the woods, making tree forts. There is a well equipped computer study room, a games field, dark room, skateboard ramp, tennis court, theatre for multi use purposes, a music room.
There is, in short, lots to do. Lots to choose from.