Principal of Summerhill School, the world's first Democratic School.
Zoë Readhead, daughter of educationalist, author and founder of Summerhill School, Alexander Sutherland Neill. Born in 1946 at Summerhill, raised and schooled there. Was considered to be the first “Free Child”. Now a mother and Principal of Summerhill which she runs with the help of two of her sons, Will and Henry, and the strong support of her husband Tony, daughter Amy and younger son, Neill, who are all farmers. She has four grandchildren one has already graduated from Summerhill, one still attending and two are babies. Zoë is owned by two Bull Terriers, has two horses and loves singing. Currently undergoing treatment for Neuroendocrine liver tumours – but being involved with Summerhill there is no time for cancer!
Summerhill is a democratic, self-governing school in which the adults and children have equal status. The daily life of the school is governed by the school Meetings, usually held twice a week in which everybody has an equal vote. The school’s philosophy is to allow freedom for the individual – each child being able take their own path in life, and following their own interests to develop into the person that they personally feel that they are meant to be. This leads to an inner self-confidence and real acceptance of themselves as individuals. All of this is done within the school’s structure of self-government through school meetings which are at the core of the school and emphasise the distinction between freedom and licence.