A typical Summerhill day
Breakfast is at 8:00am until 8:45am. You have to be up and dressed by 8:30am or the "Beddies Officers" can fine you. A typical fine might be: 10% of your Poc (pocket money) or a half-hour work fine, doing something useful for the community.
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. 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 also allow for children to be in the classroom and engage in independent activity that is not tied to any timetable.
The principle of the timetable is to allow the students to make informed choices within the context of a structured day. The children know what is available and can then decide how to personally use their own time ...playing, socialising, taking part in school committees, formal or informal learning etc. However, there are rules that stop you from sleeping during the day, watching TV, or playing screen games during lessons, and from going down town before 12:00 midday.
The specialist teachers are given a lot of independence in their classrooms, in terms of teaching methods but objectives and certain requirements must be fulfilled by all teachers, at least until they have settled in enough to make changes. There is support for all staff in the regular staff meetings.
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 they are needed for college or school recruitment. Children will be involved in this process.
Classes begin at 9:00am. Mid morning we have a 20-minute break for tea. Lunch is served from 12:20pm - 1:15pm. Lessons finish between 3.00pm and 5:00pm, depending on the day. School meetings are held twice a week. The meeting is not compulsory but is usually well attended. After that there is free time (time that does not conflict with any timetabled lessons/activities). You can watch TV, game, make a hut in the woods, play games, read, play tennis, go swimming (open air and therefore only in summer). Tea is at 3:00pm - a cup of tea and biscuits.
In the evenings there are any number of things to do. Some days it may be "gram" (disco), or maybe something has been organised by the "social committee" (word games like "The Paper Game" or action games like "Kick the Can" or "British Bulldog").
Bedtimes range from 8:45pm (lights out at 9:15pm) for the smallest (or "San") kids, to 10:30pm, lights out at 11:00pm for Shack kids. The oldest group (the "Carriage" Kids) have no bedtime at the present time but must remain in their area and respect the Silence Hour at 10:30pm. Elected "Beddies Officers" put you to bed, make sure you keep quiet and get you back to bed if you 'sneak out' after lights out! They also make sure everybody is up in the morning.