The Greek Philosopher Socrates once stated that “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” and Summerhill certainly ignites a genuine interest in learning! Whether it be in the advancement of an already well loved subject, the discovery of new ones, participation in sporting and house events or the many out of school competitions and trips available. Far from our development being contained, we get to experience a tremendous amount of growth both academically and socially.
One of my favourite experiences was an overnight trip to Edgehill University for their Maths Challenge. Here teams from schools across the UK competed to find the most innovative resolution to a problem solving task in front of a panel of judges. Out of the twelve teams who made it through to the final, three were from Summerhill! One of ours eventually went on to win it! Unfortunately, it wasn’t my team, but this event did provide me with a greater interest in mathematics and also the realisation of how supportive we all were as a Summerhill collective. There really was a great spirit between our teams!
Our house system is another aspect I find enriching. It’s centred around a friendly and competitive environment. Every term I’ve been able to take part in house championship events from building rockets during science week, sporting events from badminton to dodge ball and the Best of British trivia games taking place in this very hall. A school favourite has to be the annual sports day. Every house absolutely fills the banks of the school field with yellow, green, red and blue home made banners, proudly singing their house anthem to cheer on everyone with great passion. It’s a day packed with excitement, which I look forward to later this week. Being a part of your own house, your own community inside of Summerhill, truly makes it such a special occasion.
But Summerhill School is so much more than the confines of these grounds. We are also a strength to the community in which we live in. All our houses take part in fundraising events for charities that support matters that impact our lives - teenage cancer and mental health for example. Our students also support our local foodbank, volunteer at a variety of clubs and also take part in village activities such as the annual Remembrance parade and who can forget the formidable Summerhill steel pan float at the recent Kingswinford/Wall Heath Coronation event.
Ultimately, I enjoy it here. The classes are places that I want to learn in, the teachers are inspiring (they’re definitely not dull!) and the close friendships I have made have been the best. I’m proud to be a Summerhill student and I know that when I have completed my schooling here, that fire will definitely be burning all the greater because of the staff, friends and experiences that make Summerhill School.
My name is Summer Mallen and I have the privilege of being one of the head students here at Summerhill school. I would like to begin by saying that I truly believe Summerhill is a wonderful place to be; it is a haven full of caring students and nurturing staff members because Summerhill is represented by more than just the grades that our students achieve. Our students are conscientious, hardworking individuals who never seem to waver from our motto ‘Success Through Caring’, and that is what makes Summerhill unique. Throughout my time here, I have been given endless opportunities and experiences – all ranging from hosting assemblies and being a tour guide to being offered college visits and trips abroad – all of which will prepare me for when I leave next year. But amidst it all, I have been given support and care unconditionally, which is why I have thrived in an environment like Summerhill’s. Despite the Covid interruptions that occurred in my 1st and 2ndyears at Summerhill, I can honestly say that my personal development has skyrocketed – both the staff and students have enabled me to become the best version of myself by improving my skills and boosting my confidence. For example, taking on the role of head student was an exhilarating opportunity that was on offer to any student in their last year at Summerhill; not to mention that leadership roles within the four house systems are on offer for any pupils in years 7 to 11 too. Typically, the process that students are required to undergo is understandably nerve-wracking, but it was the students themselves and staff members who ensured that I deserved a role like this. Despite the vast majority of students in my year who applied for this position, each and every pupil stood with one another and encouraged one another to strive for the very best. I believe that this a key aspect within our Summerhill environment. Whether it be house competitions that take place every week, whether it be sports day or the house championship, every single student stands with one another. We all work hard and care for one another to ensure that Summerhill is an enjoyable and safe place for all. That is what makes us one big community, but more importantly, one big family. I truly believe that this is the definition of Success Through Caring.