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.