The Pestalozzi Story

Origins of Pestalozzi

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

JH Pestalozzi (1746-1827) was a Swiss educational reformer. He believed that everyone deserved an education regardless of their social status, so he set up several schools for children whose lives had been torn apart during the Napoleonic wars. Pestalozzi also believed in a practical education for the whole person – Head, Heart and Hands – rather than in learning by rote.

The Pestalozzi Story

Origins of Pestalozzi

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

JH Pestalozzi (1746-1827) was a Swiss educational reformer. He believed that everyone deserved an education regardless of their social status, so he set up several schools for children whose lives had been torn apart during the Napoleonic wars. Pestalozzi also believed in a practical education for the whole person – Head, Heart and Hands – rather than in learning by rote.

Humble beginnings

Pestalozzi has a rich history, dating back to 1959 when the first children arrived at the Village in Sedlescombe. Based on the ethos of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, it has gone from strength to strength since those humble beginnings.

In 1947, the British Pestalozzi Children’s Village Association was founded by Dr Henry Alexander, a German, Jewish refugee who moved to the UK before the Second World War, and Mrs Mary Buchanan, a British sociologist.

It wasn’t until 1957 that the Pestalozzi UK story moved on when the group purchased the 170 acre Oaklands Estate in Sedlescombe, East Sussex. Two years later, in 1959 the first children arrived. They were Europeans who ended up in Displaced Persons’ camps in Germany at the end of World War II and were joined by a number of British children from deprived backgrounds. Between 1959 and 1963, Pestalozzi focused on providing the power of education to European children who attended local schools.

In 1963, 22 Tibetan children from Northern India, along with their house parents, arrived at the Village marking a shift in direction for the charity. Since then Pestalozzi has evolved to offer life-changing educational opportunities to students from developing countries and areas affected by conflict.

1967/68 saw the last of the European students at Pestalozzi and from that point students from a number of countries including Thailand, Nigeria, Vietnam, Tibet, Palestine, India and Nepal began to arrive.

Further change occurred in 1997 when Pestalozzi began to offer scholarships for academically bright young people aged 16-19 from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who had already completed basic secondary education (the equivalent of GCSEs). For almost 20 years they studied the International Baccalaureate Diploma at a local college and then between 2016-2019 students studied A levels at Claremont Senior School.

Humble beginnings

Pestalozzi has a rich history, dating back to 1959 when the first children arrived at the Village in Sedlescombe. Based on the ethos of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, it has gone from strength to strength since those humble beginnings.

In 1947, the British Pestalozzi Children’s Village Association was founded by Dr Henry Alexander, a German, Jewish refugee who moved to the UK before the Second World War, and Mrs Mary Buchanan, a British sociologist.

It wasn’t until 1957 that the Pestalozzi UK story moved on when the group purchased the 170 acre Oaklands Estate in Sedlescombe, East Sussex. Two years later, in 1959 the first children arrived. They were Europeans who ended up in Displaced Persons’ camps in Germany at the end of World War II and were joined by a number of British children from deprived backgrounds. Between 1959 and 1963, Pestalozzi focused on providing the power of education to European children who attended local schools.

In 1963, 22 Tibetan children from Northern India, along with their house parents, arrived at the Village marking a shift in direction for the charity. Since then Pestalozzi has evolved to offer life-changing educational opportunities to students from developing countries and areas affected by conflict.

1967/68 saw the last of the European students at Pestalozzi and from that point students from a number of countries including Thailand, Nigeria, Vietnam, Tibet, Palestine, India and Nepal began to arrive.

Further change occurred in 1997 when Pestalozzi began to offer scholarships for academically bright young people aged 16-19 from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who had already completed basic secondary education (the equivalent of GCSEs). For almost 20 years they studied the International Baccalaureate Diploma at a local college and then between 2016-2019 students studied A levels at Claremont Senior School.

Sainsbury House

Nepalese children – 1984

European children under the Oak tree

Pestalozzi today

Today, Pestalozzi continues to provide education to students from developing countries including Belize, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Tibet, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Uganda through a partnership with United World Colleges International. 2019 saw the inception of the Pestalozzi-UWC Scholarship Programme, which currently supports students who study the International Baccalaureate Diploma at UWC Atlantic in Wales.

The Pestalozzi Development Fund, launched in 2019, provides seed funding to our alumni, enabling them to make an earlier and greater positive impact in the world.

The Pestalozzi Ladybird

The two-spotted Pestalozzi Ladybird is a symbol of hope and good fortune. Ladybird pins and badges have been sold to help fundraise for Pestalozzi for over half a century.

Help young people to make a difference in the world

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T: 01424 870444     office@pestalozzi.org.uk
Pestalozzi International Foundation, Philips House, Drury Lane, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex  TN38 9BA
Registered Charity 1‌098422. A company limited by Guarantee 0‌4797376. Incorporated in England and Wales.
Fundraising Regulator
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