Five-day festival to celebrate pioneering school's 100th anniversary

Summerhill School in Leiston

Summerhill School in Leiston - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A world-renowned school where the children can take charge of their learning, and are encouraged to be independent and free-thinking, will be joined by families, educators and innovators as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.

People from around the UK and the world will be at Summerhill School in Leiston for a special five-day festival to mark the occasion.

The event will honour the success Summerhill School has had over the last 100 years, and the school's founder, author and educator, AS Neill.

The school was founded in 1921, with the vision that the school should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around.

Summerhill School founder A.S. Neill

Summerhill School founder A.S. Neill - Credit: Archant

The school is famous for being a place where primary and secondary school students can take charge of their own learning, and are encouraged to be independent and free-thinking, as long as it doesn't affect others

Many schools have emulated this ethos, and Summerhill has become world-famous for for its focus on freedom, creativity and expression.

The school is also run as a democracy, with the children having a role and voice in how the school is run thanks to regular meetings, where anyone can attend and have a say.

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This festival held will be a community and family event for people who are interested in educational and child-rearing approaches which put emphasis on the rights, well-being and mental health of children and young adults.

Summerhill founder A.S Neill pictured with some of his students in 1969, Ally Kessler, Martha Neighb

Summerhill founder A.S Neill pictured with some of his students in 1969, Ally Kessler, Martha Neighbors, and Kathy Sykes - Credit: Joshua Popenoe

Amongst organisations attending the school for the festival in August, is UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Stefania Giannini, assistant director-general for education at UNESCO, said: "The activities to be undertaken by the festival resonate with the mission and values of UNESCO.

"We particularly commend the school's approach to promoting healthy and fulfilled childhood through freedom, equality, play, self-regulation and social and emotional well-being."

On offer at the event will be talks and workshops from educational pioneers, live music, theatre performances, creative activities and a mini-bus/walking tour, visiting the historic site of the school, offering something for all ages.

The 'Summerhill Festival of Childhood' will be held from August 5-10, at Peakhill Farm.

Recreation of a picnic that took place 100 years ago to the day and was attended by Elizabeth Garret

Recreation of a picnic that took place which was attended by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to qualify as a doctor in Britain and Suffragist leader Millicent Garrett Fawcett. The picnic was a meeting of the Conservative and Unionist Women's Federation and was addressed Unionist candidate Mr FW French. The centenary celebration has been organised by Summerhill School and the Long Shop Museum for local schools to attend. - Credit: Archant