As ye sow, so shall ye reap

9th June 2006 at 01:00
It was progressive. It was radical. It inspired the free-school movement in the 1960s. Summerhill came to symbolise pupil power and democracy in education. While not exactly free - at up to pound;11,166 a year - it is freethinking. Like-minded state schools flourished in its wake - not least its namesake in Aberdeen under the mercurial leadership of R F Mackenzie.

Now, as we reported last week, it's all change at the Suffolk school.

Overindulgent, permissive parents have created discipline problems. Zoe Neill Readhead, daughter of the founder, Fifer A S Neill, is cracking the whip at pupils to restore order. Critics in the media who take regular swipes at the school will say it was always wayward and ill-disciplined.

They forced only small changes on Summerhill.

Who then are these "interfering and overindulgent parents"? When and where did they go to school to acquire such habits? Could it be they were children of the 1960s and products of, er, Summerhill? Let us hope Mrs Neill Redhead, as a former Summerhill pupil herself, has not acquired such tendencies.

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