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 Even before it began it was getting rave reviews:

"a remarkable line-up... an uplifting, much needed conference..."
- Michael Fielding, Emeritus Professor of Education, University College London

2017 poster 640 00 header

"The Future and Progressive Education"

jointly hosted by the Wennington Association and the Planned Environment Therapy Trust

At the PETT Conference Centre, Toddington, Gloucestershire


And it lived up to the reviews.



Gathering together and meals: the heartbeat of the event




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Ex-Wenningtonian and conference co-organiser Richard Schofield welcomes the conference, with an introduction and overview of the issues leading to the theme "The Future and Progressive Education".

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 Session 1

Albert Lamb (American former Summerhill pupil and staff member; author; alternative education specialist)

"Historical Paralels with the Present: McCarthyism and Education"

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 Session 2

"Past, Present and Future (I): The American Education Experience"

In conversation: Veteran American therapeutic community-informed educators, Dennie Briggs and Rod Odgers. By live link from California.

Interviewer: Craig Fees (PETT Archivist)

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 Session 3

"Past, Present and Future (II): The British Progressive Education Experience"

In conversation: Former Wennington pupil and veteran progressive educator, Dick Jones, with ex-Frensham Heights pupil and innovation adviser, Marc Jaffrey

Interviewer: Sam Doncaster (Former Wennington pupil and veteran educator)

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 Common Roots Evening: Summerhill, the School that Says, 'Yes'!

Interview with, and performance from, Hylda Sims (Former Summerhill Pupil, poet, novelist, skiffle musician, arts organiser and Lifespan community co-founder)

Interviewer: Richard Schofield (ex-Wennington)

Take me to the recording


 DAY 2


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Session 4

"Democracy, Education, and the Political: Tensions and Possibilities"

Speakers: Judith Suissa (Institute of Education, UCL) with Emile Bojesen (Winchester University)

Chair: Sam Doncaster (ex-Wennington)


02 02 mark

Session 5

"Dialogue, Democracy and the Disneyfication of Art and Design Education"

Speaker: Mark Smith (Loughborough School of Arts)

Chair: Jonathan Adamson (ex-Wennington)


 Session 6

Plenary Session: Finding Forward Paths

A final open session with an intention to establish ways forward for alternative education in the present political and educational climate.

Faciitators: Albert Lamb (ex-Summerhill) and Craig Fees (PETT Archivist)






Albert awoke as a little boy in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His parents worked at Harvard and MIT in the McCarthyite 1950s. Albert managed to find his way (first spending a year in John Holt's How Children Fail classroom) to Summerhill School. After home schooling his four kids in the USA, Albert moved to England to marry his Summerhill girlfriend and work at Summerhill. Now he acts as mentor to the Stroud home education project, A Place to Grow.


Craig is a product of the American public school system and three years at a New England prep school. Following his PhD from the Institute of Dialect and Folklife Studies at the University of Leeds in 1988 he was asked by the Planned Environment Therapy Trust to establish a specialist Archive and Study Centre devoted to therapeutic communities and environments, and democratic / alternative / progressive approaches to education. A Registered Member of the Archives and Records Association, he is also a trustee of the Oral History Society, an Honorary Research Fellow in the History of Medicine at the University of Birmingham, and course author and tutor in oral history in the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee.


Dick was educated from the age of eight at New Sherwood School in Epsom, a small progressive school founded by two ex-Kilquhanity House teachers; and, from age thirteen at Wennington School in West Yorkshire. Teacher trained at Goldsmiths’ College, Dick taught in state schools before moving on to King Alfred, Frensham Heights and St Christopher Schools. At St Chris he teaches drama, having come out of retirement to stand in for the indisposed head of department. Away from the school theatre, Dick is a fitfully jobbing musician; and a poet, with two books currently in print: his selected poems, Ancient Lights – described by poet and children's writer Wes Magee as, 'essential reading' – and the Old Style Press' brilliant new version of Blaise Cendrars' celebrated poem Trans Siberian Prosody, a partnership of Dick's translating with the image making of Natalie d'Arbeloff.


Dennie and Rod have been both friends and collaborators in therapeutic community fields for almost a lifetime. They first met at the experimental therapeutic community set up at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California (1955-1956) under pioneering psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Wilmer – an experience that fundamentally changed the lives and outlooks of both men – and went on together to found a team to establish an all-new Therapeutic Community Program at the U.S Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan (1956-58). Following this experience, Rod graduated from San Francisco State University and transferred his therapeutic skills to education, teaching elementary school for forty-five years (1963-1978); while Dennie transferred his to Californian Prisons (1960-1965) before, at the invitation of Maxwell Jones – another therapeutic community pioneer – joining him at the open doors mental health project at the Dingleton Hospital in Melrose, Scotland (1968-1969). He then moved on to work at the equally notable Henderson Hospital in London (1969-1970). Drawing on these experiences, Dennie went on to become a teacher, speaker and consultant across both Europe and America. Both Dennie and Rod's lives are strewn with extraordinary rich episode – as an example, Dennie's involvement with the Dutch protagonists of the May '68 events – of which a brief account of their lives can only hint at. (More on Dennie at,


Emile Bojesen is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Winchester, where he is programme leader of the MA in Philosophy of Education, and (with Marie Morgan) co-convener of the Centre for Philosophy of Education. He writes on the experiential, relational and political dimensions of educational thought and practice. He has published widely in journals such as Studies in Philosophy and Education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, Ethics and Education and Philosophy Today. He has recently co-edited a book entitled Against Value in the Arts and Education (2016).


Writer and folk musician, Hylda is the love child of market traders, her early education involving a few days at one school and then another as her parents followed the circuits of Britain's markets and fairs. Things looked up when she became a pupil at Summerhill; and later, a student at the University of Hull, and then the LSE. Hylda writes songs, poetry and novels (including Inspecting the Island, 'the Summerhill novel'). With Freer Spreckley – also from Summerhill – she founded the still active Lifespan community in 19 railway workers' cottages on the South Yorkshire moors. Hylda has worked as an 'Elizabethan Minstrel', a teacher, a specialist tutor and a single parent. She also ran the Skiffle Cellar, a night spot in 1950s Soho; and has for the past twenty years hosted a monthly poetry and music event at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden. Hylda sings with the skiffle and blues group City Ramblers Revival, a reformation of the original City Ramblers skiffle group – recorded on Tempo, Storyville and Topic labels – with whom she toured Europe, appearing at the International Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957 (Remarkably, Youtube has footage of this moment). She divides her time between Norwich and London.


Judith is Professor of Philosophy of Education at UCL Institute of Education, London. Her research interests are in political and moral philosophy, with a focus on social justice, the control of education, libertarian and anarchist theory, the role of the state, and the parent-child relationship. Her publications include Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective (Routledge, 2006) and (with Stefan Ramaekers) The Claims of Parenting: Reasons, Responsibility and Society (Springer, 2012).


Marc is a scion of the well known Jaffrey family. Educated at Frensham Heights, where he was taught by Dick Jones (also a participant at this conference), his children attend St. Christopher's School where Dick now teaches them in turn. Marc has spent twenty-five years as a campaigner and campaign adviser in the business, government, education, human rights, social and arts fields. He says 'I am driven by a belief in the power of people ’s creativity to change the world'. In 2010 he gained the OBE for services to music and education. He is currently writing a book on the role generosity plays in effecting change.


Mark is an art teacher who has just completed a research degree at Loughborough School of Arts. He is a keen advocate of key concepts of the influential Brazilian educational thinker Paulo Freire. He is also an education-focused moving-image artist and graphic designer. In addition to his teaching and design work, since 1985 Mark has been making ethnographic films, videos, and installation art with diverse communities. His most recent output uses the Freirian concepts of ‘conscientisation ‘ and emancipation to present politicised videos made by fellow artists. The result is available at:


At the age of fourteen, when badly failing in a thousand-strong uniformed secondary school in Essex, Richard was sent by his local authority to become one of the hundred-or-so pupils at Wennington school in the West Riding. The rest is history. (Which includes – after a number of years as an agricultural worker – studying architecture and then typography before teaching newspaper design). Other propellants are the sixties, art school, and the History Workshop movement.


After leaving Wennington School, Sam studied for a Teachers Certificate in Secondary Science at Goldsmiths (1963-1966). He then taught in Kent until moving to Devon, where he moved into the Youth Service. At Liverpool University he took a degree in Outdoor Education (1975-1976). Until 1992 he combined a role in Community Education in Bideford with a responsibility for Safety in Outdoor Education for Devon County Council. Made redundant in 1992 – when Devon lost a third of it's Community Education staff – Sam took the money and ran. Since then he has converted a barn, restored a house, built a workshop and helped to build a fast boat which now plies its trade to Lundy Island.


RadioTC International flourished wonderfully between 2006 and 2009, throwing almost 300 therapeutic community podcasts of all kinds and dimensions out onto the World Wide Web, and even creating a presence on virtual-reality webspace Secondlife. If you haven't come across it before, it was one of the information and outreach projects of the Therapeutic Community Open Forum (TC-OF) and consisted of audio, video, text and powerpoints made from and by therapeutic communities and therapeutic community people around the world. secondlife postcard

RTCI carried the vision and scope of the earlier Joint Newsletter to the Internet, using the wide-open digital platform created by TC-OF to share music, interviews, conferences, meetings, lectures, art work, archives, literature, news, research and the enthusiasm of therapeutic community members and professionals from almost every continent, and even in multiple languages. It was the radio and media station for an online community of therapeutic community; and like the Joint Newsletter itself (which flourished from 2001-2004) was a combined effort of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, the Association of Therapeutic Communities, the Charterhouse Group of Therapeutic Communities, and the Community of Communities, with the major addition of the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities.

RTCI ground to a halt as a working and growing medium in 2009 when rapid changes in the world of the Internet outstripped the strapped resources of PETT and TC-OF to keep up with them: One too many software glitches sheered off links to audio files, made the labour involved in restoring them (much less making new ones!) both Sisyphean and Augean, and hid the visible routes to accessing them: All of the RTCI files stayed where they were, on the TC-OF server, and with ingenuity and perseverance can still be downloaded from the TC-OF website - but by the time reliable and sustainable playback tools had come along to make the podcasts readily accessible, it was too late for RadioTC International.  The world's therapeutic community online broadcaster had gone into mothballs.

However, leaping into the present  - and prompted by Alan Miller at the recent Community of Communities Annual Forum, who asked about his 2007 podcast "Making Sense Out of Chaos in Therapy" - we are pleased to announce that we have sourced what we think will be reilable and sustainable playback tools, and have restored links to almost all of the programmes on RadioTC International. The original files are still on the Therapeutic Community Open Forum server, if you are one of those people who enjoy the challenge of a technical work-around - but if you'd simply like the opportunity to hear and see them with relatively little hassle, you now can, through the medium of the Archive and Study Centre section of the PETT website.

Go to:

RadioTC International

click on

"Complete List of Programmes"

and enjoy the legacy.


(The files and any associated documentation are also stored and can be accessed at the Archive and Study Centre as part of the TC-OF/RTCI Collection.)


Secondlife image thanks to Ian Milne

The Theory and Practice of Democratic Therapeutic Community Treatment by Steve Pearce and Rex Haigh has been published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, and was formally launched following the Community of Communities Annual Forum at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London on March 30, 2017. Introductions and a toast "To Therapeutic Communities" were followed by a warm and lively book signing.  PETT is especially grateful for the gift of a copy of the book for the Archive and Study Centre Library,  generously inscribed by both authors -  Steve Pearce on the left, in the photograph below, and Rex Haigh on the right.

steve and rex


The book has been hailed by Dr. Heather Castillo, Independent Consultant and author of Personality Disorder: Temperament or Trauma, and The Reality of Recovery in Personal Change, as a "superb and important book...[which] teaches us emanciating approaches which hold the key to a more humanised psychiatry", while Dr. Robert Hinshelwood, Emeritus Professor of Psychoanalysis calls Theory and Practice "a wonderful blend of academic prose and radical thinking", and Past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Dr. John Cox says it is "a 'must read' and a 'must act'  for any thoughtful purchaser, patient or provider - before it is too late."


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On October 29th, PETT archivist Craig Fees took part in a day-long discussion of archives, history, the past/present/and future of Braziers Park in Oxfordshire; at Braziers Park in Oxfordshire - the Braziers Park School of Integrative Research, established in 1950 by Dorothy and Norman Glaister.

01 braziersBrighton University's Annebella Pollen and Braziers Park's Colum Hayward worked together the day before to select items from the Braziers' extremely exciting archives; and created a display, first in the Drawing Room, around which a discussion on research and records swirled; and then in the Study, a warm quiet space wrapped in books. Colum and Annebella led a discussion on the needs and opportunities of the archives; with Craig supporting from the professional archivist's point of view.

As part of a longer, "Wider Community" weekend, with long-standing friends and Braziers Members, and current residential volunteers, there was the usual wonderful vegetarian food, augmented by the smell and sounds of pumpkin carving, and children in costumes and playing games and running around. In the late evening there was a bonfire, and singing; and during the day there were walks and poetry, and large and small groups in circles talking. More people arrived for Barbara Witemeyer's talk on Ernest Thompson Seton after dinner (you can hear that talk here)

The archives live in a large safe - a walk-in vault - and bring together many threads and communities of 20th and 21st century experimentation with groups and social and personal healing. The Library is another warm and quiet room, which is itself filled with history and archives, both in the books themselves - gathered together by the founders and the founding community, and added to over the years; and inside the books - in the kinds of notes, and inserts, that one expects in personal and community libraries. Taken together, the archives and the library embody a heritage which is crying out to be shared more widely, and brought loudly into the present.

 Additional material

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From the Braziers Park archive room; only some of the material selected by Annebella Pollen and Colum Hayward: An air raid warden's helmet from World War II; Braziers documents; and a unique display book, put together by members of Grith Fyrd for a London exhibition on their work; including samples of woolen cloth, woven by the men on their camp looms.


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The Library. One could simply sit in here and read, or write, or both, for hours.

And from the Library: Examples of concerns and associations

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"An Introduction to Q Camp for Boys". Norman Glaister was a member of the Q Camps Committee. This was his copy.


A sample of the riches in the Braziers Park Library. Imagine the riches stored in the archives!

In 1959, when the founders of the Pestalozzi Childrens Village began welcoming children from the wreckage of World War II into a manor house on a hill in the expansive countryside of East Sussex, could they have imagined the depths of love they were engendering in many of those children? A love which has surfaced into the Early Pestalozzi Children Project, and which has led to the successor Trust, the Pestalozzi International Village Trust (PIVT),  instituting an annual Founders Day to honour the organisation and the founding vision, and the people who have lived and embodied that vision for over half a century!

arc320The month and a half is really compressed into the last two weeks of October, and began with a two-page spread on the Project in ARC, the professional magazine for members of the Archives and Records Association - professional archivists, records managagers, and conservation professionals throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland (first page illustrated, left!).

There was then a crescendo in the Founders Day celebrations themselves, on October 24th, for which the Early Pestalozzi Children Project created an exhibition, and gave a well-received presentation to current international students at the Village, Trustees, PIVT friends and supporters, members of the local community, a group of the early children themselves, and even an early student volunteer and a retired teacher from the local school, who'd taught and vividly remembered the early Pestalozzi children: They are called "early" because, from 1965 the Village changed direction, transforming itself from a home for children with disrupted lives into an educational foundation offering international fellowship experiences to students from all over the world. It was no longer an appropriate place for the children who were there, and as they left and were placed elsewhere, their history gradually faded with their presence,  and was largely lost to the organisation itself; until the Early Pestalozzi Children reappeared!.

plaque320And then, on top of the Founders Day, one of the Tibetan early Pestalozzi children appeared, and spent a riotous night of reminiscence and discussion with Len Clarke and Will Eiduks, leaders of the Early Pestalozzi Children Project. The Pestalozzi Childrens Village was home to a small group of United Kingdom children, a large group of children from the European mainland, and a smaller group of children from Tibet, whom Len and Will have been seeking since the Project started: one of the many unexpected treasures of the Project being this serendipitous reunion. And then, to pile serendipity onto serendipity, one of Len's oldest school friends appeared - a local child, and not one of the Pestalozzi children - whom Len had not seen since leaving the Village over 50 years ago. More catching up and reminiscing.

To top which, Len and Will travelled to Brighton University on the 27th, to conduct a seminar on the Project and the many experiences behind it for members of the academic staff, and teachers on the Educational Doctorate programme; coming away with ideas and direction on how best to encourage and work with the potential doctoral students which discussion suggested would be interested in picking up the Village's stories and threads and running with them.

Rounding off the month with another, informal meeting with current Pestalozzi students; and thoughts with PIVT itself about the future.


For the Early Pestalozzi Children Project website, go here.

 Additional material:


The new Founders' Hall, with freshly mounted portraits. From the left: Swiss educationalist Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi; Robert Corti, founder of the first Pestalozzi Children's Village in Switzerland, and inspiration for England's; Dr. Henry Alexander and Mary Buchanan, founders of the Pestalozzi Childrens Village in Sedlescombe; and Eric Bourne, himself a refugee from war-torn Europe, who was the Village's warmly-remembered first Warden.


Len Clarke and Will Eiduks in the Pestalozzi Centre hall.

Part of the world the early Pestalozzi children found themselves invited to discover.

Not quite Abraham Lincoln, but notes that PETT archivist Dr. Craig Fees made for his similarly short speech, introducing the Early Pestalozzi Children Project on Founders Day.