|Type||Independent Boarding School|
|Principal||Zoë Neill Readhead|
|Founder||Alexander Sutherland Neill|
|DfE URN||124870 Tables|
|Staff||approx 10 teaching, 5 support|
|Houses||San, Cottage, House, Shack, Carriages|
|Publication||The Orange Peel Magazine|
Summerhill School is an independent British boarding school that was founded in 1921 by Alexander Sutherland Neill with the belief that the school should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around. It is run as a democratic community; the running of the school is conducted in the school meetings, which anyone, staff or pupil, may attend, and at which everyone has an equal vote. These meetings serve as both a legislative and judicial body. Members of the community are free to do as they please, so long as their actions do not cause any harm to others, according to Neill's principle "Freedom, not Licence." This extends to the freedom for pupils to choose which lessons, if any, they attend.
- 1 History
- 2 Philosophy
- 3 Academics
- 4 Reception and legacy
- 5 Conflict Resolution
- 6 Educational structure
- 7 Boarding houses and pastoral care
- 8 Notable former pupils
- 9 Government inspections
- 10 Drama and documentary depictions
- 11 A. S. Neill Summerhill Trust
- 12 Summerhill in popular culture
- 13 Schools based on Summerhill
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
In 1920, A. S. Neill started to search for premises in which to found a new school which he could run according to his educational principle of giving freedom to the children and staff through democratic governance. On a trip to Europe, which started out as a research visit into progressive schools on behalf of the Theosophical journal New Era, he found the ideal accommodation in Hellerau near Dresden, a village founded on principles that presaged the Garden City movement in England. By combining with two other Projects, the Neuen deutschen Schule (New German School), founded by Carl Thiess the previous year and an existing school with many international students dedicated to the teaching of Eurhythmics, a joint venture named the International School or Neue Schule Hellerau was launched. Neill's sector was called the "foreign" school (in contrast to the Thiess's "German School"). Jonathan Croall wrote, "This, is esssence, was the beginning of Summerhill"  although the name Summerhill itself came later.
Neill was soon dissatisfied with Neue Schule's ethos, and moved his sector of the organisation to Sonntagberg in Austria. Due to the hostility of the local people, it moved again in 1923 to Lyme Regis in England. The house in Lyme Regis was called Summerhill, and this became the name of the school. In 1927, it moved to its present site in Leiston, Suffolk, England. It had to move again temporarily to Ffestiniog, Wales, during the Second World War so that the site could be used as a British Army training camp.
After Neill died in 1973, it was run by his wife, Ena May Neill, until 1985.
Although the school's founding could arguably be dated to other years, the school itself marks 1921 as the year of its establishment.
Summerhill is noted for its philosophy that children learn best with freedom from coercion. A philosophy that was promoted by the New Ideals in Education Conferences (1914–37) that helped to define the good modern primary school as child-centred. All lessons are optional, and pupils are free to choose what to do with their time. Neill founded Summerhill with the belief that "the function of a child is to live his own life – not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, not a life according to the purpose of an educator who thinks he knows best."
In addition to taking control of their own time, pupils can participate in the self-governing community of the school. School meetings are held twice a week, where pupils and staff alike have an equal voice in the decisions that affect their day-to-day lives, discussing issues and creating or changing school laws. The rules agreed at these meetings are wide ranging – from agreeing on acceptable bed times to making nudity allowed around the pool. Meetings are also an opportunity for the community to vote on a course of action for unresolved conflicts, such as a fine for a theft (usually the fine consists of having to pay back the amount stolen). If there is an urgent reason to have a meeting, children and staff can ask the Chairperson to hold a Special Meeting, and this is written on the main whiteboard, before a meal time, so that the whole school knows and can attend.
In creating its laws and dealing out sanctions, the school meeting generally applies A. S. Neill's maxim "Freedom not Licence" (he wrote a book of the same name); the principle that you can do as you please, so long as it doesn't cause harm to others. For example, pupils may swear within the school grounds, but calling someone else an offensive name is licence.
Classes are voluntary at Summerhill. Although most students attend, depending on their age and reasons, children choose whether to go of their own accord and without adult compulsion. The staff discuss new children and those who they feel may have issues that interfere with their freedom to choose (e.g. fear of classrooms, shyness to learn in front of others, lack of confidence), and propose and vote on interventions, if needed, during staff meetings. This is called the 'Special Attention List'. The staff meet at least twice a week to discuss issues; those relevant to the community will be brought to a community meeting. Children can attend these meetings when they ask, but are asked to leave when individual students are discussed, to maintain the privacy of the student.
Neill wrote that pupils who elected to prepare for university entrance exams were able to finish the material faster than pupils of traditional schools. Inspector accounts assert that this was inaccurate, and that interested pupils were disadvantaged by their dearth of preparation. Inspectors would assume that lesson attendance was necessary evidence of children learning, and that lack of attendance was seen to be a lack of learning, they refused to accept the evidence of exam results, verbal evidence from teachers, current and previous children, and the success of children after leaving Summerhill as evidence.
The Summerhill classroom was popularly assumed to reflect Neill's anti-authoritarian beliefs, though their classes were traditional in practice. Neill did not show outward interest in classroom pedagogy, and was mainly interested in pupil happiness. He did not consider lesson quality important, and thus there were no distinctive Summerhillian classroom methods. Neill also felt that charismatic teachers taught with persuasion that weakened child autonomy. Leonard Waks wrote that, like Homer Lane, Neill thought all teaching should follow pupil interest, and that teaching method did not matter much once pupil interest was apparent.
In a review of an algebra lesson taught by Neill, as recounted through Herb Snitzer's Living at Summerhill, Richard Bailey described Neill's teaching technique as "simply awful" for his lack of pupil engagement, inarticulate explanations, and insults directed at pupils. Bailey criticised Neill's absolution of responsibility for his pupils' academic performance and his view that charismatic instruction was a form of persuasion that weakened child autonomy.
The school peer reviews its teachers and has policies and systems to ensure the quality of its teaching. Since Zoë Neill Readhead took over as Principal, it has developed an ethos of keeping its staff, through increase in wages and conditions of work.
There is an ongoing review and development of methods of teaching, assessment and record keeping. The staff share with each other their practice, especially in relation to numeracy and literacy learning. The music department have developed over several years, including action research, methods of supporting spontaneous music performance, creativity and development of expression through music. This is being shared with the rest of the staff. The school has always had a creative drama delivery, based on spontaneous acting and development of plays through collaboration between actors, directors and writers. With small group teaching and negotiated time tables the curriculum is presented in a multi-sensory, individual focused lessons, with flexibility to respond to the student's needs.
Reception and legacy
Summerhill received most of its public attention in two waves: the 1920s/30s and 1960s/70s. Richard Bailey linked this increased interest to milieux of social change (progressivism and the counterculture, respectively), though he added that Neill was not driven by his reception. The 1960 best-seller Summerhill made the school a beacon of possibilities for a wide public, and led to an American movement with copycat schools.
Richard Bailey wrote that the freedom and motivation to learn is not enough to introduce children to interests that they do not know to exist, and that otherwise, children are subject to the interests of the era. This is not a relevant comment to the present school, as it ensures through its practice that children make informed decisions. It even has processes that monitor and create interventions based on concerns over issues that infringe on children's right to choose.
The media tended to cover aspects of Summerhill such as casual teacher–pupil relations and lack of compulsory classes instead of the weekly meeting. Media coverage also showed Summerhill's pupils as unrestricted and anarchic, which was unlike its reality.
There are two main methods of resolving conflicts at Summerhill.
In the first instance, one should go to an ombudsman to resolve a conflict. The ombudsmen are an elected committee of older members of the community, whose job it is to intervene in disputes. One party will go and find an ombudsman and ask for an "Ombudsman Case". Often, all the ombudsman has to do is warn someone to stop causing a nuisance. Sometimes, if the dispute is more complex, the ombudsman must mediate. If the conflict cannot be resolved there and then, or the ombudsman's warnings are ignored, the case can be brought before the school meeting.
In special cases, the meeting sometimes assigns an individual their own "special ombudsman", an ombudsman who only takes cases from one person. This usually happens if a particular child is being consistently bullied, or has problems with the language (in which case someone who is bi-lingual, in English and the language of the child in question, is chosen as the ombudsman.)
The tribunal is the school meeting which concerns itself with people who break the school rules. Sometimes there is a separate meeting for the tribunal, and sometimes the legislative and judicial meetings are combined. This is itself a matter which can be decided by the meeting.
A "tribunal case" consists of one person "bringing up" another, or a group of people. The person bringing the case states the problem, the chairperson asks those accused if they did it, and if they have anything to say, then calls for any witnesses. If the accused admits to the offence, or there are reliable witness statements, the chair will call for proposals. Otherwise, the floor is opened to discussion.
If there is no clear evidence as to who is guilty (for instance, in the case of an unobserved theft), an "investigation committee" is often appointed. The investigation committee has the power to search people's rooms or lockers, and to question people. They will bring the case back to the next meeting if they are able to obtain any new evidence. In a community as small as Summerhill, few events go totally unnoticed and matters are usually resolved quickly.
Once it has been established that a person has broken the rules, the meeting must propose and then vote to decide a fine. For most school rules, there is a "standard fine" mandated for breaking them, somewhat equivalent to a judge's sentencing guidelines, but a different fine can still be proposed. Fines can include a "strong warning" administered by the chair, a monetary fine, loss of privileges (for instance, not being allowed out of school, or being the last to be served lunch), or a "work fine" (e.g. picking up litter for a set time or similar job of benefit to the community). In the case of theft, it is usually considered sufficient for the thief to return what was stolen. Although there are some rare cases where the property stolen is no longer in the possession of the thief; in these cases, the thief is given one of the two more serious fines and is questioned as to where the property has been sent.
Although Neill was more concerned with the social development of children than their academic development, Summerhill nevertheless has some important differences in its approach to teaching. There is no concept of a "year" or "form" at Summerhill. Instead, children are placed according to their interest or level of understanding in a given subject. It is not uncommon for a single class to have pupils of widely varying ages, or for pupils as young as 13 or 14 to take GCSE examinations. This structure reflects a belief that children should progress at their own pace, rather than having to meet a set standard by a certain age.
There are also two classrooms which operate on a "drop-in" basis for all or part of the day, the workshop and the art room. Anyone can come to these classrooms and, with supervision, make just about anything. Children commonly play with wooden toys (usually swords or guns) they have made themselves, and much of the furniture and décor in the school has been likewise constructed by students.
Boarding houses and pastoral care
Children at Summerhill are placed in one of five groups which correspond to the buildings in which they are accommodated. Placement is generally decided at the beginning of term by the Principal, in theory according to age. In practice, a younger child may take priority if they have been waiting a long time for a place, if they have many friends in the upper group, or if they show a maturity characteristic of a member of the upper group.
Certain school rules pertain specifically to certain age groups. For instance, no one else may ride a San child's bicycle, and only Shack and Carriage children are allowed to build camp fires. The rules concerning when children must go to bed are also made according to age group.
Bedrooms generally accommodate four or five children.
Each of the boarding houses (save the Carriages, see below) has a "houseparent": a member of staff whose duty is pastoral care. The duties of a houseparent include doing their charges' laundry, treating minor injuries and ailments, taking them to the doctor's surgery or hospital for more serious complaints and general emotional support. Depending on the age group, they might also tell them bedtime stories, keep their valuables secure, escort them into town to spend their pocket money, or speak on their behalf in the meetings.
Ages 6–8 (approx)
The San building is an outbuilding, near the primary classrooms; its name derives from the fact that it was originally built as a sanatorium. When there proved to be insufficient demand for a separate sanatorium, it was given over to accommodation for the youngest children and their houseparent. At one time, San children were housed in the main school building, and the San building was used as the library. They have since moved back, and the rooms they previously occupied now house the Cottage children.
The laws of the school generally protect San children, both by disallowing them from engaging in certain dangerous activities and preventing older children from bullying, swindling or otherwise abusing their juniors. San children have the right to bring up their cases at the beginning of the school meeting or have another student or a teacher bring the issue or issues up on their behalf.
San children can sleep in mixed sex rooms, while older children have single sex rooms.
Ages 9–10 (approx)
Cottage children were originally housed in Neill's old cottage, at the edge of the school grounds. For some time, the San wholly replaced the Cottage, but Cottage children are now housed in the main school building.
Ages 11–12 (approx)
House children are accommodated in the main school building, called simply "the House".
Ages 13–14 (approx)
The Shack buildings (there are two, the Boys' Shack and the Girls' Shack) are small outbuildings, so called because of the somewhat ramshackle nature of their original construction. The buildings have since been renovated.
Children of Shack age and above are expected to take a more active role in running the school, standing for committees, chairing the meetings, acting as ombudsmen to resolve disputes and speaking in the school meetings. Of course, younger children can take on most of these roles if they so wish, and none of them are compulsory, even for the older children.
Ages 15+ (approx)
The carriage buildings are similar to those of the Shack, only larger. However, they were originally converted rail carriages. Since the last renovation, the Boys' Carriage building incorporates a kitchenette and the Girls' Carriages a common room and shower block (other bathrooms in the school have only baths). Either facility may be used by both sexes.
The Carriage children each have individual rooms and are not looked after by a houseparent. Instead, they are expected to do their own laundry and generally look after themselves, although there is a rota for staff members to take care of any Carriage children who become ill, and they are free to consult the Shack houseparent if they feel in need of adult advice or medical assistance.
The Carriage children also mentor the San children (i.e. the 6-8-year-olds).
Notable former pupils
- John Burningham, children's author and illustrator
- Keith Critchlow, artist and professor of architecture
- Rebecca De Mornay, actress
- Storm Thorgerson, rock album cover designer
- Gus Dudgeon, record producer
- Mikey Cuddihy, artist and lecturer at the University of Brighton, whose 2014 Summerhill memoir A Conversation About Happiness tells how
"it was common for students to get married in mock weddings, and they were allowed to sleep together...More worryingly, sexual relations between students and teachers were also common...Neill's 35-year-old stepson Myles, who taught pottery...went out with some of the more senior pupils (because) he has a special dispensation"
This novel's contents are highly personal and disputed by other people within the school at the time.
Summerhill has had a less-than-perfect relationship with the British government. During the 1990s, the school was inspected nine times. It later emerged that this was because OFSTED (The "OFfice for STandards in EDucation") had placed Summerhill on a secret list of 61 independent schools marked as TBW (To Be Watched).
In March 1999, following a major inspection from OFSTED, the then Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, issued the school a notice of complaint, based on the school's policy of non-compulsory lessons. Failure to comply with such a notice within six months usually leads to closure; however, Summerhill chose to contest the notice in court.
The case went before a special educational tribunal in March 2000, at which the school was represented by noted human rights lawyers Geoffrey Robertson QC and Mark Stephens. Four days into the hearing, the government's case collapsed and a settlement was agreed. The pupils attending the hearing on that day took over the courtroom and held a school meeting to debate whether to accept the settlement. They voted unanimously to do so.
The nature of the settlement was notably broader than could have been decided on the judge's authority alone. The educational tribunal only had the power to annul the notice of complaint, whereas the settlement made provisions that Summerhill be inspected with respect to its philosophy and values, that the voice of the child (through community meetings and in other ways) be included in the inspection, and that the inspectors be accompanied by two advisers from the school and one from the DfE to ensure that the inspection respected the school's aims and values. The school was the first in England to grant children a legal right to formally express their opinions and to meet with the inspectors. The DfE advisers have included Prof. Paul Hirst and Prof. Geoff Whitty, Director of the Institute of Education and now on OFSTED's governing body.
The first full inspection report since the disputed 1999 report was published in 2007. The 2007 inspection, conducted within the framework set out by the court settlement, was generally positive, even in areas previously criticised by the 1999 report. The school maintained that it had not changed its approach since the original inspection.
The full inspection on 5 October 2011 concluded that the school is outstanding in all areas except teaching, which was seen as good, and not outstanding due to issues of assessment.
In February 2013, the DfE unilaterally rescinded the court agreement by claiming that OFSTED now understood the school and the court mandated inspection process was no longer needed to ensure a fair inspection. The school sent evidence and questions to the Select Committee on Education for their meeting with the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, on 13 February 2013. The evidence quoted a member of the Select Committee expressing shock at the lack of processes for OFSTED to learn by its mistakes.
Drama and documentary depictions
The 2008 television production Summerhill, broadcast on BBC1 and CBBC as a serial and on BBC Four as a one-off drama, was set in Summerhill and presented a highly fictionalised version of the 2000 court case and the events leading up to it. Much of the production was recorded on location at Summerhill and used pupils as extras. The production presented an unabashedly positive view of the school as the Director, Jon East, wanted to challenge the present paradigm of what a school is, as presented in popular culture. It received two BAFTAs, including one for script, by Alison Hume
A. S. Neill Summerhill Trust
The Trust was launched in 2004 by Prof. Tim Brighouse, Tom Conti, Bill Nighy, Mark Stephens and Geoffrey Robertson QC to raise funds for bursaries for pupils from poorer families and to promote democratic education around the world. It publishes an electronic newsletter and organises fund-raising events. An elected committee of schoolchildren, called the "External Affairs Committee", have – over the years since the court case, and with the support of the Trust – promoted Summerhill as a case study to state schoolchildren, teachers and educationalists at conferences, schools and events. They have run full democratic meetings at the Houses of Parliament and London's City Hall. They have lobbied four Chief Inspectors of Schools through the Select Committee on Education on the importance of children's rights in schools and school inspections . They have addressed the UNESCO Conference of Education Ministers, lobbied and protested at the UN Special Conference on the Rights of the Child in New York. They took an active part in advising and contributing to events for the children's rights group Article 12. They continue to work with schools, colleges and universities.
Summerhill in popular culture
Several novelists have been inspired by Summerhill. For instance, Enid Blyton's The Naughtiest Girl series, her first about a schoolchild, was set in a school based on Summerhill, with democratic community meetings allowing the children to make decisions about the school and 'punishments' etc.
Schools based on Summerhill
Many schools opened based on Summerhill. A common challenge was to implement Neill's dictum of "Freedom, not license": "A free school is not a place where you can run roughshod over other people. It's a place that minimises the authoritarian elements and maximises the development of community and really caring about the other people. Doing this is a tricky business."
Neill distanced himself from some schools for confusing freedom and licence:
"Look at those American Summerhill schools. I sent a letter to the Greenwich Village Voice, in New York, disclaiming any affiliation with any American school that calls itself a Summerhill school. I've heard so many rumours about them. It's one thing to use freedom. Quite another to use licence."
- Anarchistic free school
- European Democratic Education Community
- European Democratic Education Conference
- International Democratic Education Conference – I.D.E.C.
- Democratic education
- Reggio Emilia approach
- Sudbury schools
- "Hellerau (in German)". Dresdner Stadtteile. Retrieved 11 Jan 2016.
- Jonathan Croall. "Neill of Summerhill : The Permanent Rebel". Routledge. Retrieved 11 Jan 2016.
- "Summerhill – Early days". Summerhill. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- "History". Summerhill School. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- Newman, Michael, Children’s Rights in our Schools – the movement to liberate the child, an introduction to the New Ideals in Education Conferences 1914-1937, July 2015, www.academia.edu
- Selleck, R.J.W. (1972) English Primary Education and the Progressives, 1914-1939 p156 Routledge & Kegan Paul London and Boston ISBN 0710072082
- "home page". Summerhill School. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- "REPORT OF AN INQUIRY INTO SUMMERHILL SCHOOL – LEISTON, SUFFOLK". Self Managed Learning. 2000. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- Bailey 2013, p. 141.
- Summerhill School Special Education Needs Policy Document, 2014, http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/downloads/SEN%20Policy.pdf
- Summerhill School Staff Meeting Minutes, 2015, unpublished.
- Bailey 2013, p. 140.
- Newman, Michael, When evidence is not enough: freedom to choose versus proscribed choice: the case of Summerhill School, Chapter 5, Education Studies: Issues & Critical Perspectives, edited by Derek Kassem, Emmanuel Mufti & John Robinson, 2006, OUP.
- Bailey 2013, p. 147.
- Bailey 2013, p. 144.
- Bailey 2013, p. 145.
- Waks 1975, p. 144.
- Bailey 2013, p. 146.
- Bailey 2013, p. 146–148.
- Summerhill School website on teaching at the school, http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/teaching-summerhill.php
- Summerhill School Webpage on Teaching, http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/teaching-summerhill.php
- Summerhill School SEN Policy Pt 4., http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/downloads/SEN%20Policy.pdf
- Bailey 2013, p. 154.
- Bailey 2013, p. 155.
- Bailey 2013, p. 142.
- Bailey 2013, pp. 142–143.
- Summerhilll School webpage describing teaching, http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/teaching-summerhill.php
- Summerhill School SEN Policy Statement, http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/downloads/SEN%20Policy.pdf
- Bailey 2013, p. 130.
- Bailey 2013, p. 134.
- The School Meeting – interactive page, Summerhill School. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Truswell, Humphrey (1975). Made in Summerhill. Hawthorn Books. ISBN 0-8015-7322-X.
- Appleton, Matthew. Summerhill School: A Free Range Childhood. ISBN 1-885580-02-9.
- Review in The Guardian of Mikey Cuddihy, A Conversation about Happiness, accessed 14 May 2015
- "Education Bill". Parliament. 22 January 2002. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- "Summerhill on trial". BBC News. 20 March 2000. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- "Summerhill closure threat lifted". BBC News. BBC. 23 March 2000.
- "Summerhill Inspector's report" (PDF). OFSTED. 7 November 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- Shepherd, Jessica (1 October 2007). "So, kids, anyone for double physics? (But no worries if you don't fancy it)". The Guardian. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- The Guardian. Ofsted. 27 October 2011 http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/124870. Retrieved 27 October 2011. Missing or empty
- Evidence to Education Committee submitted by Michael Newman | 13 February 2013|
- Griffiths, Sian; Chittenden, Maurice (4 June 2006). "Liberal Summerhill tries discipline". The Times. London. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
- "'Summerhill at Seventy' Channel-4 documentary film (Zoë Readhead on the Cutting Edge film)". Retrieved 29 January 2008.
- "Summerhill: Inside England's most controversial private school". The Independent. London. 28 January 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
- Rampton, James (19 January 2008). "Summerhill: The school where lessons are optional". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Writing Summerhill". The Writer's Guild of GB. London. 18 March 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "She read a book called Summerhill that presented a seemingly irrefutable case for permissive child-rearing, and discussed it at Sardi's East with Elise and Joan, their treat.". Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
- Blyton, Gillian, Introduction to ‘The Naughtiest Girl in the School’, Blyton, Enid, Hodder Children's Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0340917695
- Richard E. Bull (1970). Summerhill USA. Penguin Books. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- Mel Snyder, quoted in Richard Bull, Summerhill USA
- conversation between A.S. Neill and Mario Montessori, Redbook Magazine, Dec 1964, reprinted as "Radical Private Schools" in This Magazine is About Schools 1(1), Apr 1966, pp5-19
- Ian Stronach (April 2005). "On Her Majesty's Disservice: HMI and Summerhill School" (PDF). First International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 4–7 May 2005.
- Mark Vaughn (ed.). Summerhill and A.S. Neill. ISBN 0-335-21913-6. — A compilation of old & new writings from Mark Vaughan, Tim Brighouse, A. S. Neill, Zoë Neill Readhead and Ian Stronach
- Matthew Appleton. Summerhill School: A Free Range Childhood. ISBN 1-885580-02-9. — A recent first-hand account of life as a member of staff at Summerhill
- A.S. Neill. Summerhill. ISBN 0-14-020940-9. — a book about the school and its philosophy, by the school's founder
- various authors. Summerhill: For And Against. ISBN 0-207-12633-X. — A collection of essays, arguing both in favour and against the school's approach
- Jonathan Croall. Neill of Summerhill: The Permanent Rebel. ISBN 0-7100-9300-4. — This is mainly a biography of Neill but of course has plenty of material about the school and Neill's ideas
- J F Saffange / Peter Lang. Libres regards sur Summerhill. L'oeuvre pédagogique de A-S Neill. ISBN 3-261-04017-3.
- Hussein Lucas (2011). After Summerhill. What happened to the pupils of Britain's most radical school?. Herbert Adler Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84289-052-3. A selection of autobiographical accounts taken from interviews with one student from every decade of Summerhill's existence.
- Summerhill School website
- Summerhill: Education for Democracies
- Erich Fromm: Foreword, in: A.S. Neill "Summerhill" (1960)
- Web site about Summerhill (in German)
- Website about Summerhill (CBBC series)
- Summerhill at 70 (Channel 4 Cutting Edge documentary)
- Newspaper article after official approval
- Report of an independent inspection ( An independent report in response to the 1999 inspection)
- Campaign site to rescind the Summerhill 1999 Ofsted Report Lots of information about the schools fight for survival
- 'The Work of Ofsted – Sixth Report of Session 2003–04 House of Commons Education and Skills Committee report on the role of Ofsted
- Ofsted care report from 2007
- BBC Summerhill closure threat lifted
- Article by member of staff discussing the significance and events of the court case An examination of the court case and what it means about our education system.