Freedom to Learn Forum. April 6th 2018

Freedom to Learn Forum

by Phoenix Education Trust, Summerhill School and Freedom to Learn Project



This is a child-friendly event; we welcome participation from children and young people, and there will be activities and plenty of space for play.

Unlikely to resemble any other conferences you’ve been to before, the Freedom to Learn Forum is an open-space arena in which adults and children co-create the schedule. Anyone can host a talk or workshop on any topic they are passionate about, allowing us to share our knowledge, experience, and ideas.

This Spring, the Freedom to Learn Forum will be set in the stunning surroundings of the historic Summerhill school, founded in 1921 and still ahead of its time. Delicious food will be provided by their on-site catering team, and students will be adding a ‘Summerhill Sprinkle’ to the affair, hosting mock-meetings and a famous ‘gram’ (disco). There are a limited number of beds for those who wish to have the authentic Summerhill residential experience.


General Information


There are 40 beds on site for those who wish to have the authentic Summerhill residential experience! These are in dormitories, so you will be sharing with other people. On the booking form, you can indicate people you would like to share with, and we will do what we can to accommodate people’s preferences. Priority will be given to families with children. Adolescents may be provided with same sex dormitories for under 18s. Adults will be separated into same sex dormitories as well.

There are also spaces for up to 50 people to camp on the grounds. Campers will have access to showers and toilets on site.

Alternatively, there are a range of hotels and B&Bs within the town of Leiston.


All food will be provided by Summerhill’s on-site catering team. The following meals will be included in the cost of tickets:

Friday: Dinner

Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Sunday: Breakfast, Lunch

Getting here

There is limited parking space on site, reserved for those who are staying on site overnight. There is some parking space on Westward Ho and other nearby streets. We kindly request that people staying in Leiston walk in.

By public transport, the nearest train station is Saxmundham and there are two buses (64 and 521) that stop outside Leiston library (5 minutes walk from Summerhill School).


We have tried to organise the tickets to be as flexible and as cheap as possible. The ‘Festival Tickets’ are inclusive of meals, but accommodation needs to be booked separately.


This is an open-space forum, and anyone can host a workshop or offer a presentation on any topic. We have a number of wonderful spaces and there will be a total of 40 slots for sessions during the event. A workshop or presentation is allocated a one-hour slot, and will take 45 minutes, so that there is time for attendees to have breaks in-between sessions. If you require two slots for your chosen topic, you may select this. There are 20 spaces available for booking in advance and there will be 20 spaces available at the event itself. If you would like your workshop or presentation details to be included in promotional materials in advance of the event, please provide information when you complete the order form. The organisers may be selective about the events they pre-book, to ensure there is a diversity of perspectives included. If your information doesn’t appear in promotional materials, please know that you will be able to promote your event at the festival itself.


We need two volunteers to help with promotion and administration in the months preceding the event. These volunteers will get a free ticket for the whole festival, with a bed on site. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact:

UK Residents

Ticket preference is granted to UK residents because we want this Festival to help accelerate the movement for progressive education in the UK specifically. If there are still spaces available one month before the event, then tickets will be made available to people from other countries. If you wish to put your name on a waiting list for this eventuality, please contact:


We are able to offer a limited number of bursaries to reduce the costs for attendees who may be experiencing financial hardship. These bursaries are made possible thanks to the generosity of the Summerhill Trust, the Meadowbrook Trust, and the Raymond Williams Foundation. If you are interested in applying for a bursary, please email to request an application form.

Contact the organiser

Any questions regarding the event, please contact:


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