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Sainsbury House

Humble beginnings

Pestalozzi has a rich history, dating back to the time the first children arrived at the Village in 1959. We are a charity whose ethos is based on the principles of Swiss educationalist and reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, and which 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.

After the British Pestalozzi association was founded, it was another 10 years before the Pestalozzi UK story moved on. The group purchased the 170 acre property in Sedlescombe, East Sussex in 1957, and is a place we still call home today. Two years later, in 1959 the first children arrived at the village. The children were Europeans who ended up in Displaced Persons camps in Germany at the end of World War II.

From 1959 – 1963, Pestalozzi focused on giving the power of education to European children that had been affected from the aftermath of WW11, but in 1963, 22 Tibetan students, along with their house parents, arrived at the village; marking a shift in direction for the charity. Since then Pestalozzi changed focus and began to offer life-changing education to students from Third World countries.

1967/68 saw the last of the European students at Pestalozzi and from that point students from Tibet, India and Nepal - amongst other countries - began to arrive.

In the 1990’s Pestalozzi began to offer scholarships for young people who had already completed basic secondary education (the equivalent of GCSEs), allowing them to study for the International Baccalaureate Diploma. That is still the case today as students study wide ranging subjects at Claremont Senior School.

Nepalese children 1984
Pestalozzi Today

Today, Pestalozzi continues to give the gift of an education to students from a number of under-privileged countries including Nepal, India, Indonesia, Tibet, Zimbabwe, and more.

During the 60 years we have been in Sedlescombe, we have grown tremendously with the help of our donors and supporters; we have been able to offer bright and determined young men and women the chance to change their lives for the better - and you can continue to help us by supporting us here.

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Inspiring young people to make a difference in the world.