It’s possible that someone would like to open up a school outside the confinements of the current education orthodoxy. Of course, this has dangers, for as we know the educational establishment is backed by science as to what works in teaching the little blighters. But still, experimentation must go on:
The New School, based in Croydon, south London, opened its doors in September. It has no Sats and no behaviour policy, and operates on a “democratic” decision-making model for pupils and staff. It can escape statutory testing because it is a private school – but one with no fees. It is funded by philanthropic company donations – £1m of seed funding this year – although Stephens hopes to move to a completely different funding model involving her local authority, believing she can offer a social partnership approach which could be copied by other schools that want to innovate.
Hmm, well, yes. That completely different funding model will be – presumably – that the local authority hand over the cash that would have, otherwise, been spent on educating in a more traditional school.
The funding this year equates to £17,000 a pupil, equivalent to an average boarding school place, which she expects to reduce to £11,000 when the school is at capacity (compare that with the minimum 2021-22 funding of £4,180 per pupil in English primary schools).
It’s grossly, grossly, expensive of course but still, experimentation is good.
Stephens says she is on the brink of getting the second year agreed, but after that is hoping to adopt a model called “social outcomes commissioning”. Under this agreement, a private funding organisation stumps up the cash for an organisation to reach a particular set of “social outcomes” required by a body with statutory funding, such as a local authority. Once those outcomes are reached, the public body pays back the original funder, plus a small fee.
Gosh, this is sounding terribly like a system we have in place more widely, isn’t it?
The school has been deluged with job applications from frustrated state school teachers and the staff have high hopes. “There is a problem in the system, and we can solve it,” Stephens says.
How cool. Now, remind ourselves again, why is it that The Guardian is so against the academy model?