Online Archive  
Issue 2 - February 1972
Free School
Last June the Scotland Road Free School opened, with five kids, for six weeks. They reopened in September and now have a roll of 32 kids. In Miles Platting, near Manchester, a Free School will, hopefully, be opening within a year. Other schemes are planned in London, Birmingham, Hull and Newcastle; but this is still not enough. As Roger Featherstone of the Miles Platting scheme said recently:

We need your support. The Free School idea needs your support… the best way to help us and all Free Schools is to start your own Free School.

There are three main reasons for setting up Free Schools. Firstly, to create an alternative to what is; i.e. free from the present educational framework which is non-democratic and hierarchical, the hierarchy starting with the politicians and ending with the all-powerful headmaster.

Free Schools allow of much greater flexibility in their running; parents, kids and all other members of the school or community can have a say in what the school does.

This ties up with the second reason for starting Free Schools; to be a part of the community rather than simply a building in the vicinity. If the school can take part in other schemes, for example playgroups, youth centres, advice centres etc then it will be accepted as part of the community and will be able to set up other centres to deal with other community needs. The eventual aim is to create a variety of community action evolving from the needs of the area, and to involve the people of the area in these activities so that these become their activities and not things imposed from outside.

The third reason for the formation of Free Schools is to be an outlet for new ideas in education; to be an escape from antiquated and harmful so-called educational theory.

Examples of this abound - the tripartite system which divides people into types, the academic, those who are good with their hands (?) etc; streaming with regard to age or ability without concern for the effect on the kids; the stress laid on competition rather than co-operation; and so on.

A Free School is planned for Newcastle - what form will it take? Probably a school for kids aged 5-16, although anyone older will not be turned away. This last point is important in an area of high unemployment, particularly among those who have just left school and find it difficult to find things to do with all their time, except vandalism.

For those under 5 there will be a playgroup and nursery school; also there will be an adventure playground. At the moment this is only an idea - what actually happens depends on the people in the community and their needs.

But besides what has been said before, there is one very important reason why Free Schools and other alternatives, such as PNP, Uncareers etc should succeed.

We must help all people see that alternatives are not only possible to imagine, but, by setting up alternatives, show that they are workable. And the alternative schemes must work, for only by such means will revolution occur.

If you'd like to help with any aspects of the Free School then please write or phone the address on the info page.