Saturday, January 12, 2008

More on Nick Clegg and Free Schools

Further to my posting on Nick Clegg's speech today...

Andy Mayer gives something of the flavour of the Lib Dem manifesto conference:
An auditorium speaker repeated the mantra that people don't want choice they want a good local school and hospital. Half the audience cheered. Tom Papworth highlighted that, while that's right, the point is how you get those good schools and hospitals. Choice helps drive up standards faster than just voting out incumbent Councillors every four years. The other half of the audience cheered.
Meanwhile, Jo Anglezarke is inspired by Nick Clegg's talk of Free Schools:

One school you should read about as truly Liberal, and one I am tempted to send my future children to is Summerhill School. It's a totally free school, where lessons are given, but only to children who have chosen to go to them. I have A.S. Neil's autobiography in my bookcase and have read it with fascination.

It's a model school which gives children both choice and confidence.
I am delighted to see a Liberal Democrat supporting innovation and diversity in education. And there is certainly a role for schools like Summerhill.

But I wonder if this is the kind of establishment that inner-city parents from ethnic minorities, who are the people most likely to benefit from Free Schools, will have in mind.


Neil said...

Choice does not always lead to improved standards. I know a number of schools, especially in areas where there are low educational expectations amongst parents, where schools are not necessary improving.

Anonymous said...

As I told Jo Anglezarke, in the Netherlands, where the school system has been free for 90 years, and where the results of choice and empowerement of parents to found new schools are visible, there is a variety of different schools, many of which use different pedagogies, such as Montessori, Dalton, Jenaplan, Freinet or other, more recently invented methods.

Jo Simmonds said...

Yes, it is perhaps quite a middle-class example to write about - the parents most likely to send their kids there will at the moment be (probably) quite Liberal professionals.

However, I'm still in awe of the school and what it stands for.

I first read about it at the age of 19 and couldn't stop reading! I was absolutely fascinated.

I also think we should raise the age at which children start school and alter the school day...but I think I've had too many radical thoughts for one day...I need a lie down now!


dreamingspire said...

At last we hear of someone (Tom Papworth) making the point about how we improve schools, and the further point that (in my words) choosing between two groups of incompetent councillors is not going to improve things (and in local govt this doesn't just apply to education). Its time to take this forward into the wider discussion of how to improve public services. Bringing back accountability has to be a vital ingredient, along with an agreed framework in which that can be judged and is also supported with measures to improve management skills and ensure that appointments are made with competence as an essential criterion and team building as a goal.

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way - I'd prefer it if you hyperlinked to my post rather than quoted from it - no-one will click on to my site now!

Many thanks


Jonathan Calder said...

Jo, you underestimate yourself.

People will be intrigued by the short extract I quote and want to read more.

That is how blogging works.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I realise that now. I had sprained my ankle yesterday and was quite moody!

Many thanks,