Is there a need for an alternative and democtratic school in London?(18 Posts)
I have an idea, but first I'd like to ask parents and children about what they think:
I believe that I can create a school that serves the community truly and helps children to turn into socially responsible adults. Aschool where everybody feells home and secure
My idea is to create an alternative and democtratic school in London. It's core ethos would be 'We don't prepare children for life. They already have one.' The school would be a learning community based on equality and mutual respect. A place where children could discover their personalities and identities.
Please share your ideas, your opinion, argue or debate, ask questions for more details or any pedagogical or operational detail etc.
Thanks for your contribution!
London is desperately short of school places.
The more the merrier, and I think there is scope for many kinds of ethos.
Would it be a school where the children learn the difference between its and it's?
I've never felt that my ds had any difficuty finding his personality tbh.
Having said that, I wondered if you'd considered asking an existing school to sponsor the new school - e.g. Summerhill, Sands or Bedales, which are well known to have an approach that includes involving children in democratic school government.
Are they going to teach spelling?
Thanks for all the answers so far.
To basildonbond and MidniteScribbler. Sorry for the spelling mistakes and typing mistakes, I've noticed them, but couldn't go back to correct them once the post was on-line. Yes, I know, I should have done it before going live, but clicked the wrong button.
Beyond your comments so far, would you please reply to the main question?
(and if someone knew how to edit the first post, please tell me as I'd like to correct the mistakes)
Are you a parent or a teacher? I think for the next 18 months that this government has to run the DfE will play it very safe when it comes to approving new schools. They've had very bad publicity around minority faith schools, alternative philosophies (e.g. Montessori), and teacher-led schools not part of a chain. Approved parent-led schools are in the minority. The promise of 'freedom from national curriculum' is misleading because free schools have to enter for SATs and GCSEs. The only ones to be rated 'Outstanding' are part of a chain and/or CofE schools (or linked to them) so we're likely to see more of the same.
My DD's community school is fantastic, however, and certainly promotes equality and equal respect.
Thanks for the info about alternative schools in the country. I didn't know about Bedales and will check this one as well.
And yes, I have been thinking about contacting other alternative schools and have contacted 2; Summerhill and another not in the UK.
My main reason for starting this discussion is to find out if there was a need from parents, teachers, children and community for an instituiton like this.
No doubt that there are children who can and will explore their abilities, personalities and express themselves (easiliy). Maybe because they are naturally so self-driven or they have supportive background or because of their personalities. But there are more 'silent' children, who would need an encouraging environment to do so; or children, who always felt they don't really fit into any schools, who fail because of restrictions and never had the opportunity to find what they are really interested in.
My idea came from the so many times heard 'I don't knows'. When children just simply say that, instead of having (and maintaining) curiosity, they don't even try to think. I believe they loose their interested in education and learning in early secondary education, when the pattern of learning changes. They are set targets, they cannot determine their own targets and have no or only little say in it.
They are told what to learn in what pace, and they are not able to determine their own speed of learning and they have to learn what they are not interested in at all.
They are told what success is - a minimum grade usually, when I think children should define what is a success for them and these should be acknkowledged.
Ah, so you want to set it up as a private school not a free school then? I'm afraid that Michael Gove and the DfE would never approve a school that didn't meet its expectations for floor targets, 'average' progress targets, constant testing and ranking, Ofsted inspections, etc. Not that he gives a stuff about the pupils meeting those targets - he just sees schools as commodities to be brokered in a 'market' using weights and measures.
But you may see from threads in Education that many parents consider the private sector to try and get away from ths pressure. Unfortunately most private schools are competing within their own market, especially post-11.
'We don't prepare children for life, they already have one" is quite possibly the worst educational philosophy I have ever heard of.
I think you are going nowhere with this idea as it is currently defined. You have said a lot about what you don't like about schools but not any information about what your school would teach other than vague notions.
But good luck anyway with your thinking on this
I'm a bit confused, tbh. My children's primary focuses very much on individual learning, and achievements - each child has targets of their own. Is this not fairly common?
Things to consider:
-what age group would it be for
- how would it be funded (summer hill is independent)
- how would it be governed
- how would admissions be managed
As a basic start
Democracy is dangerous stuff though as so many people who can vote are so woefully misinformed about many things
In principle I would love a school that valued democracy, student led education, an embracing of alternative modes of learning and centrally a place that promoted curiosity, interests, learning to learn, rather tha. Rote learning or teaching to the test.
So how is an 11yo supposed to know what targets he is supposed to be setting to have a chance of realising his dreams to go to medical school or become a marine biologist 7 years later?
And what if his dreams change and he simply hasn't got the qualifications to get onto the next stage: who will pay for the extra time he needs to catch up?
When my ds was 11 his one aim in life was to do as little as possible and spend as much time as possible kicking a ball around. There is no chance he will able to make a living out of his football playing as he has very little talent- he just likes it.
If his teachers had not insisted that he had to reach a certain level in maths and literacy he would not be on his way to gain the qualifications he needs to make a living in any other way either.
Or are we just talking about the kind of individual target setting that any primary school, or secondary, does anyway?
MsYvaine, you need to be a little more specific about how your school would be different to others. It might have clear aims, but how would you go about achieving them?
Many schools would already consider themselves to be "a learning community based on equality and mutual respect. A place where children could discover their personalities and identities." So how would your school do that better, and how would you measure its success?
"They are told what to learn in what pace, and they are not able to determine their own speed of learning .."
That's probably true of most schools, but the Kunskapsskolan sponsored schools in Richmond (Twickenham Academy and Hampton Academy) have a stepped curriculum that students move through at their own pace. In practical terms that means online learning, supported by weekly one-on-one tutorials to encourage progress, as well as variation from traditional lesson types; workshops etc. It might not suit everyone, but for many children that style of learning could be the key to success.
Is the Family School the kind of thing you are envisaging? It looks great but was refused free school status so is private.
Gove discourages early entry for GCSE and resits, as well as resits. He's got rid of coursework. They label boys who aren't writing full sentences at five years old as a failure of teaching. He wants to rank 11 year-olds. I can't even see how a personalised approach like that of Kunskapsskolan fits in with his testing regime.
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