In 1997, Tony Blair's New Labor government took steps to improve standards in education. Ironically, this would threaten the existence of an unusual little school in Suffolk called Summerhill...So begins an extraordinary documentary about a remarkable school in England, in which the students, the staff and a few formidable barristers take on OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) to fight for its existence and the lifeblood of alternative education throughout the world.Summerhill, the famous coed alternative boarding school, was threatened with closure because it refused to compromise its educational and social philosophy. Attendance in classes is voluntary, and children can play all day if they feel like it. The school runs as a free and democratic society. Rules are developed and adopted in weekly meetings, in which every member of the school community, from a five-year old child to the headmistress, has an equal vote. At Summerhill, the emotional development of children comes first, lessons second. The film follows a number of these students from the ages of eleven to sixteen as they grow and make important decisions about life and their education, at the same time that they become involved in the legal and political fight to save their school. We watch them work and play and see them develop as they take on the increased responsibilities that come with age and experience in a self-governing community. As these students mature, they go on to help run the democratic processes of their school, give a press conference at the Houses of Parliament and, finally turn the high court into an unprecedented and historical Summerhill general meeting to decide whether or not to accept the terms of the British government.
a video by William Tyler Smithdistributed by Documentary Educational Resources.