To see the future development of “free schools” and academies (Free for all, Weekend, 5 January), look to the US charter schools.
As Diane Ravitch, once George Bush’s assistant secretary of education, wrote in her Death and Life of the Great American School System (Basic Books, 2010), “The regular state schools are hugely disadvantaged in competition with such schools as they are able to attract more motivated students, discharge laggards, enforce tough disciplinary codes, plus enjoying additional financial resources from their corporate sponsors.”
Like Gove’s academies and free schools, US charter schools “represent a concerted effort to deregulate public education, with few restrictions on pedagogy, curriculum, class size, discipline, or other details of their operation”. As Ravitch concludes, “If we continue on the present course … the result is predictable. Charter schools in urban centres will enroll the motivated children of the poor, while the regular public schools will become schools of last resort for those who never applied or were rejected.”
For “charter schools” read “free schools and academies” and for “public schools” read “council schools”.