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 as unlike a conventional school as it could possibly be. The school was founded one hundred years ago to provide a space where children can grow in a ‘free-range’ environment and today is the oldest and most famous example of a true 'free school'.

The school educates children from 5 through to 18 years old and is primarily a boarding school, although day kids are accepted. A wide choice of subjects is offered up to GCSE level and the children have absolute freedom over which lessons they choose to attend. A child's right to play is fundamental and there is no pressure to conform to adult ideas of growing up, though the community itself has expectations of reasonable conduct from all individuals.

Summerhill is a happy and caring community that recognises the importance of expressing emotions and learning through feelings. There is a general openness and honesty among the community members. Staff do not use adult authority to impose values and solve problems; these are solved by the individual with the help of friends or ombudsmen or by the community in meetings - a process which has stood the test of time for over a century.

Age Range

4-11 years, 11-16 years, 16-18 years

Opening Hours

Full time boarding and day school, 3 terms per year

Contact Details
  • Summerhill School
  • Westward Ho
  • +44 1728 830540

Progressive Education does not endorse any school or learning community within this website.