Summerhill, whose headmistress is Zoe Redhead, is a seventy year old progressive school, run on cooperative lines with pupils having an equal say in its constitution. However officious ... See full summary »
Summerhill, whose headmistress is Zoe Redhead, is a seventy year old progressive school, run on cooperative lines with pupils having an equal say in its constitution. However officious OFSTED inspector Wharton regards it as a waste of money and a means of teaching children disrespect - though his assistant Myrtle is charmed by its ambience. In a court hearing to decide the school's future barrister Geoffrey Robertson points to the many alumni from the school but also, thanks to a tip-off from a pupil, is able to reveal that Wharton had told Myrtle that the school was virtually due for closure and the inspection was purely a formality. Consequently Summerhill is saved, Myrtle gets to teach there and the children launch a pirate ship with the banner 'Freedom' to celebrate the victory. Two children whose future at the school looked uncertain are also given cause to celebrate. Written by
don @ minifie-1
A delightful film for children - which adults should see
For me, A S Niell's Summerhill school concept always seemed rather strange - schoolchildren have complete freedom to what they want rather than what they should, even to absent themselves from any class if they wish. They also have equal voting rights in all matters of school government.
This film was produced for the BBC's children's channel CBBC and is a pure delight. The lines between Good - everyone associated with the school and Bad - the Ofsted inspectors, and by association, the Government, are drawn very clearly, to the point of caricature. The children are charming and fun loving, the teachers are warm and caring. The inspectors are rigid, disciplined and humourless. There is also a clear political agenda behind their actions.
The inspectors condemn the school, but the school appeals and goes to law. Their counsel turns out to be the renowned human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson. Even the judge is humane and generously gives over his courtroom for a meeting of the school council.
The only part of this film which - for me - was weak was the medieval visualisation by one child of the court procedure. But then, I'm not a twelve year old child, I'm not in the audience the film is directed to.
I hope it gets a wider showing and a DVD release.
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