Established by James East in the 1950s, Burgess Hill School (aka the Beat School) in Hertfordshire, England, allowed its pupils to do what they wanted, in the belief this was the best way for youngsters to learn. Rules were frowned upon, and “Tradition,” it was claimed, “was clinging to the dead past.” Even smoking in class was tolerated, for as Headmaster East explained to Time Magazine in 1962:
“Kids always smoke, and I’d rather know about it than have it done in secret.”
Such openness encouraged the young uns to fulfill their potential, and find happiness in doing so, which is how it should be.
Like the best of the British Pathe clips, this short clip on Burgess Hill Beat School leaves you wanting to know more. What happened to the school? Did the experiment of a Beat School work? What did these children grow up to do? Where are they now? It would make for an interesting documentary on BBC 4, and one hopes a dozen researchers are penning such a proposal right now.
A longer 4 minutes clip is viewable here.