Would the 99% please stand up against ‘free’ schools! What has become of education as a human right – instead of a middle class playing ground that ultimately cements social inequalities?


Occupy Protest, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Boness Occupy Protest, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Boness

Some words suggest states of affairs that it is hard to be ‘against’ as the linguistic term used to describe them evokes undisputed goods. One such term in recent policy debates in the United Kingdom are the so-called ‘free’ schools that suggest children are best educated as far away from state control as possible. ‘Free’ schools are usually run either by faith-based organisations or by civic-minded groups of parents in conjunction with teachers and charities. Ideologically grounded think-tanks on both sides of the political spectrum provide evidence that they either have largely failed (‘left-leaning’ think-tanks), or indeed have turned around many failing schools and improved pupils’ performance indicators (‘right-leaning’ think-tanks). Whether these performance indicators are in fact an adequate way to judge ‘education’ is a different debate that shall not concern us here. Let’s also leave aside the debate whether faith is not best…

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