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A national chain of cut-price primary schools

This looks really interesting. I have just learned about it by reading this:

A right-wing think-tank will this week launch a national chain of cut-price primary schools in a drive to open up private education to middle-income families.

The first New Model School will start work in September, charging less than half the average fees of many independent primary or “pre-prep” schools.

Teachers have already been appointed, and tomorrow the school starts advertising for pupils to join the inaugural class of five-year-olds.

So what are these people trying to accomplish?

The New Model School Company aims to establish a chain of local schools, each subscribing to the same ethos and curriculum. A New Model School can be created wherever there are enough interested parents to start one. Organisational structure and support will be provided by the New Model School Company. Curric­ulum materials will be developed by its sister organisation, the New Model Curriculum Company.

And who are they?

The individuals who have formed the New Model School Company were brought together by the social policy think-tank Civitas (www.civitas.org.uk). Our aim is not just to set up a single successful school, but to provide a model of excellent and affordable schools which will improve the lives of many children and their families.

Our ambitions for the school are far wider than success in exams. The final aim of education is the formation of strong moral character, good manners, and the development of well-informed judgement. Good citizenship is not a subject of the school curriculum, but an aspect of conduct and behaviour that arises from a knowledge of the foundations of the culture, its history, values, and institutions.

If you would like to know more about us, you can telephone Matthew Faulkner on 020 8969 0037.

Because of my continuing interest in such matters, I plan to stay continuously interested in this venture, and will certainly be phoning that number myself in due course. But I think I wlll wait a while before doing that, because something tells me that this guy’s phone will be ringing fit to burst for the next few days.

I especially like that it is being set up by a “right wing think tank”. The idea of saying that was presumably to discredit the whole venture, as, maybe, is the slightly derogatory expression “cut-price”. (like there is something wrong with that). The more likely effect will be to make all “right wing think tanks” look better, if this is the kind of thing they do.

Also, by branding these places “right wing”, the Indy will scare lefties away from teaching in these places, and the political tone of them will undoubtedly be more free market in orientation than your average school. When these people talk about “history, values and institutions” that is not merely code for higher taxation and caving in to public sector trade unions.

I love it, and will almost certain have more to say here about this in the future. I really hope it works.

47 comments to A national chain of cut-price primary schools

  • Susan


    KIPP

    You might also want to keep track of KIPP across the pond. It’s not a for-fee chain of schools and is supported by private charity, though. It was founded to rescue poor kids from state schools and tranzi indoctrination. The guy who co-founded The Gap gives tons of money to this organization.

    But the emphasis on discipline and on learning instead of indoctrination is the same as that outlined by The New Model School.

    From The New Model School’s ciriculum description:

    “Storytime
    We have selected a large number of Bible stories, classical myths and legends, and other traditional tales to read and discuss with the children. Pupils will become familiar with a network of essential cultural reference points which will reappear frequently in the English, history, classics, and religious curriculum of later years.”

    In other words, we will reclaim the traditional culture of the Dead White Males! The tranzis are having a shit fit right about now, I expect. Go New Model School!

  • Verity

    Gosh, this sounds brilliant. The market always wins.

    This latest example vividly demonstrates one more time that the socialists/Gramscians/Tony Blairs are actively working against a free society and have the sinister intent of keeping control – against the interests of the electorate.

    It is becoming impossible for them to claim otherwise.

    The free market, which always finds a way, will triumph – unless the fifth column takes fright and finds a self-serving, moralistic, Blairesque way to ban it. I think Tony and David and Jack and Patricia will not like this.

  • Harry

    Let’s hope these folks can be enticed to colonize the US. They’d be swamped with business in an instant. Including mine.

  • Susan

    I expect to see a pollytoines about this “horrible’ new trend in education shortly. I could probably write it myself, post it here, and see how close I come to the bull’s eye.

  • HMM.

    This sounds like school vouchers!

    I graduated on Friday from a Charter School in Minnesota. The orginal purpose was publicly funded schools that would compete at the same price level as tradtional American Government supported schools. They are supported by a private business or consotium, in many cases. Mine had agribusiness and the local land grant university. There have been many failures, but it will change American education.

  • Shawn

    Without doubt one of the best ideas I have heard of in a lomg time. Like the Free State Project, this is building a free society from the ground up, a much better startegy than trying to capture central government.

  • James

    Certainly sounds interesting, and is a good way to go in order to try reverse some of the PC lefty rubbish of the moment.

    I’d have to see more of the curriculum before I could make a full judgement though. I’m dubious of references to “Bible stories”. Let’s hope they’re filing them alongside the myths and legends.

  • Bernie

    Thanks for the info Brian. I’m in the market for such a thing very soon with a three year old. Did you notice the other slight knock in the article where it said the company is aiming to open up “private education to “middle income” families. Interesting term “middle income”. It’s not quite “middle class” but suggests “elitist” and it is also suggests it is more expensive than it probably is.

  • Guy Herbert

    James: I’m dubious of references to “Bible stories”.

    Somehow I doubt we have to worry about that, if they are mentioning classical myths and legends in the same paragraph, as part of the same educational function. Evangelicals generally are dubious about the classical world. (Watch the Biblical tour parties in the classical galleries of the British Museum sometime. Fascinating, in a creepy sort of way.)

    In any case there’s no shortage of barking religious schools for all ages, even in Britain. Some of them state aided.

    Civitas is definitely a conservative think-tank, and its views on sex n drugs n rock n roll are a bit reactionary for most libertarian tastes, but had I children I wouldn’t feel I was risking damaging their minds by giving them a Civitas inspired education. Not so the DfES.

  • Veriity

    The only fly in the ointment – what happens when the children finish primary school and go on to their secondary education? Is it all going to unravel? Are they going to be dumped in multiculti bogs where the teachers dress like the children and girls turn up in class wearing pelmets they call miniskirts, bare midriffs, large hoop earrings and body piercings, and their lessons consist of discussions on how the British Empire ruined three-quarters of the globe out of greed, how shameful British history is and that spelling and grammar don’t matter?

    Also, I wonder how they’re defining “middle income”. Obviously not the professional unemployed, but I hope some children from lower income families might get a look-in. Those are the ones who desperately need rescuing.

    It sounds wonderful, though.

  • Julian Morrison

    Verity: if I was these people, my business plan would be: expand to keep pace with the first class through. That is, plan to open secondary schools when the first enrolled class hits that age, and so forth. And prioritize enrollments from their own system. That way, nobody need be dumped out into the state-school wasteland.

  • Verity

    Julian – I hope that’s exactly what they will do.

    And yes, prioritise places for the children who’ve come up through primary, but maybe have three or four scholarships in each school for a few bright children from outside who could be brought along. Otherwise, the social mix becomes too set.

    I think this is such a superb idea. I’m sure they have thought about the threat from the state, which might decide to try to impose curricula … The state is a jealous god …

  • Julian Morrison

    Verity: the best way to do that would be to design each layer to hold more pupils than the previous. That way, they don’t need special scholarships, they can prioritize from within and still have places open for qualifying outsiders.

    I doubt the state will be able to impose a curriculum. It generally doesn’t try for private schools. What it does do, is define the national exam curricula. This school can probably finesse that, though, by running “ahead of schedule”. That would let them teach in-depth, rather than the usual mad rush to tick topics off the list.

  • Verity

    Sorry for two postings in a row, but I’ve just been to their website (Link) and they’re trying to keep the fees below £1,000 a term, at least for the first year, which sounds awfully ambitious.

    Their timetable for learning, which has already been trialled, is around six times faster than that laid down for the national curriculum.

  • Duncan S

    re the bit about bible stories:

    According to their website, “the school day in reception year will begin with prayers…”

    Wonder which deity they will be praying to?

  • Duncan S

    Just read some more of their site:

    “The New Model School will be Christian in ethos, and will treat Judaeo-Christian ethics as an authoritative set of principles to be aspired to, rather than simply as one lifestyle choice among others.
    “.

    I won’t be sending my kids there then.

  • Julian Morrison

    Re christianity, it’s harmless, most schools do that and most kids throw it off easily. Just teach them your own opinions at home.

  • ernest young

    Duncan S and Julian Morrison,

    You are probably both reasonably intelligent people. Why do you sound so narrow-minded, bigoted and, dare I say it, stupid?

  • Susan

    “The New Model School will be Christian in ethos, and will treat Judaeo-Christian ethics as an authoritative set of principles to be aspired to, rather than simply as one lifestyle choice among others. ”

    Well, I’m an athiest myself, but I’d be happy to send my child to one of those schools. Judeo-Christianity accounts for a major chunk of Western civilization, and teaching our kids contempt for it is just the same as teaching them to have contempt for the West in general.

    After 40 years of Gramsci-tranzi lies and propaganda, we who love the West are finally fighting back! May our tribe increase.

  • Guy Herbert

    I’m an atheist myself and I mostly went to Voluntary Aided Church of England schools. It never injured my precocious atheism, whatever other harm it may have done me.

    I think from internal evidence–that they acknowledge the classical tradition, “Judeo-Christian” rather than Christian tout court–we can take it they aren’t bigoted or indoctrinarian about their Christianity.

    If you examine the Civitas personnel lists they look like a collection of more or less market-oriented conservatives. I’ve met Dennis O’Keefe and Patricia Morgan, and, while a bit morally fierce for me, they are fairly civilized. John Marks, their main education man, is well known from the Campaign for Real education. I’m guessing they are trying to go back to the spirit of the Butler Education Act. Not (given where we are currently) a bad option.

  • Ron

    You need to be careful where parents are too heavily involved in the running of schools. Before we had our children, my wife taught in a small private secondary school where one of the most disruptive brats was the school founder’s grandson.

    He regularly disobeyed the teachers and openly taunted them that “my grandad runs this school – you’ll never get me expelled!”. Obviously there was much resentment amongst the other pupils, to say nothing of what the teachers thought.

    Curiously, despite all the high-faluting talk about expanding the school into a chain of academies all over the borough, the school closed down the instant the aforementioned grandson had done his GCSEs…

  • Julian Morrison

    ernest young: it’s not stupid to think christianity is wrong. It’s not even stupid to think it’s silly, because frankly it is. To the extent a person believes in biblical inerrancy, he’s believing the ridiculous. To the extent he doesn’t, he’s not a christian. And if he picks-and-mixes, he’s thrown away the claim to authority of the original.

  • Cydonia

    Sadly I doubt that a truly low price private school is possible in the U.K. The sector is very heavily regulated, regarded with intense disfavour by most Local Authorities who control the planning process and of course has to compete with the “free” State schools. It is possible that it could work with a bunch of wealthy donors – i.e as a charity – but as a paying proposition it sounds very unlikely.

  • Julian Morrison

    Cydonia: IMO the thing most non-doctrinaire lefties have against private schools, is they see them as socially exclusionary snob-factories. So, this lot’s price-cutting creed might actually work in their political favor.

  • Rob Read

    Julian, councillors will see them as somewhere for their children to go to (see Diane “4thee~4me” Abbott)

  • James

    One problem with the “Christian ethos” is that it makes it pretty easy to allow the IDers in, but renders things difficult for the kid who might date utter “but I don’t wanna pray”.

    Free Inquiry has a tendency to stop at the door of the prevailing doctrine, usually.

    Still, ya pays yer money, ya takes yer chances.

  • ernest young

    Julian,

    Nice to have your own confirmation that you are a narrow-minded, religious bigot.

    Your trite , and dare I say it again, stupid reply, shows just how little thought you have given to the matter of religion, let alone the idea that people can hold different views and opinions to yourself.

    You are not the sole arbiter of ‘correct’ philosophical thinking, and I find your assertion that anything other than your opinion, is invalid, to be crass in the extreme.

    I am not trying to defend religion here, I am just surprised that you see no room for different philosphical views in your ‘libertarian’ paradise, your viewpoint, and the way you state it, seems more akin to statist socialism, than a free-thinking society.

  • Julian Morrison

    ernest young: you mistakenly assume that I want to legislate my opinions. I don’t. And if someone did, I’d be against them.

  • Duncan S

    Let me expand to counter accusations of bigotry or stupidity.

    I accept that the judeo-christian ethic is a contributiory part of our western civilisation, but that was only the most recent in a long line of belief systems, all of which share similar viewpoints on how to conduct your live: don’t kill (unless you have to), don’t steal, honour your parents, etc, and all of which were formulated (or evolved) in order to bring stability to the society of their time.

    So whilst I would like my kids educated in an environment where good manners, discipline and self reliance are an integral part of the school ethos, what I don’t want is for them to have some deity rammed down their throats at 8.30 in the morning (or any time of day).

  • Verity

    How are “belief systems” different from beliefs?

    Sounds like leftie sociology department twaddle.

  • Julian Morrison

    Verity: a belief system is a set of beliefs that usually come packaged together, especially where that set has a name (such as “the judeo-christian ethic”).

    Sociology needn’t be lefty or twaddle. It’s not a good thing to abandon a science merely because it’s been colonized by idiots!

  • Duncan S

    How are “belief systems” different from beliefs?

    Sounds like leftie sociology department twaddle

    I think I’ll just go back to reading this blog, rather than daring to join in.

    So far I’ve been called a stupid bigot, and now a leftie, on the basis of just 3 posts.

    That’s up there with the lib-dem canvasser the other evening accusing me of being a labour supporter on no other evidence that because I said I wouldn’t vote for her bunch of parasites.

  • Cydonia

    “Sociology needn’t be lefty…”

    I think our very own Brian Micklethwait was once a sociologist :-)

  • Julian Morrison

    Relax, Duncan S, if you’ve got an opinion there’ll always be people who disagree. Getting huffy about it implies you want your critics to shut up. Why? Returning fire is more fun.

  • Verity

    Ooops! – I certainly didn’t intend to impugn Brian – although it is heartening that you say “used to be” …

    I would argue that sociology is a pseuodo science. Astronomy’s a science. Nuclear physics is a science. Just because it comes tarted up with scientific sounding gimcrackery doesn’t make it a science, you know.

    I would have a few other choice comments to make, but I don’t want to offend Brian.

  • ernest young

    Duncan S,

    You acknowledge that christian ethic was contributory to the creation of western civilisation. You then go on to say that it is only the latest in a long line of belief systems, all with the similar aim of enabling us to live together in a civilised manner. Well, I would dispute that last sentence. Prior to judeo-christianity, idol worship and sacrifice were the order of the day, and it could hardly be said that the Roman model was a total success in civilised living for all members of society. To describe a system that has been around for two thousand years as, ‘the latest’ seems somehow trite.

    That you want your kids educated in a good environment goes without saying, but to throw out, or otherwise dismiss a tried and tested system, without having any idea what to replace it with, except that you object to the concept of a supreme being. That is only a part of the package, the big part is the teaching of manners, respect and responsibility that most of us recognise as the blue print for civilised living.

    Now I am quite happy to accept that part of religious teaching, at the small price of having to say a prayer or two. whether one goes on to believe or disbelieve in the more esoteric aspects of religion, is purely a matter of personal choice, it is not obligatory. It would seem that even the priests have largely given up on that one. Religion is a simple way to teach simple people (kids), that they should not run around creating mayhem.

    That you are prepared to throw the whole package out, without any viable replacement for what amounts to a teaching of a basic, and largely accepted, moral standard, would seem at best to be, a risk. Replacing belief in a Deity with a belief in Government really is a non-starter, although I am sure they would love it, if you did.

    I could continue with the example of the youth of today being a prime example of what happens when the basic tenets of civility are abandoned, it is obvious that with the rejection of even a basic teaching of moral ethic, in some form or another in schools, that life has become more brutish, somehow, less civilised, and is reverting rapidly to a more primitive construct.

    What I love about you libertarians is that all you are really objecting to, is that you dislike being told what to do, whether you agree with it or not, the fact that someone has told you to do it, means you are going object to it. If someone told you to ‘eat your dinner’, you would refuse, even if you were starving.

    E.g. See Julian’s reply to my earlier comment.

  • Julian Morrison

    ernest young :”If someone told you to ‘eat your dinner’, you would refuse, even if you were starving.” Well, yes, that’s what free people do.

    I am constantly amazed at you religious folks’ idea that the pronouncements of a deity, believed without evidence, are needed to instil civil behavior.

    Myself I’m not technically an atheist, but I’m nothing like a christian and I don’t believe in anything you’d recognize as a god. And yet you mock me above for taking a moral stand, then go on a few sentences forward to imply that atheism results in amorality?

  • ernest young

    Julian,

    Do you actually read what you write.

    “Well, yes, that’s what free people do.”

    That you would cut off your nose to spite your face, does not really surprise me..

    To what moral stand are you referring? A stamping of feet does not constitute a moral stand.

    You are good at reading what you want to read aren’t you? Nowhere did I say that atheism implies amorality, I merely pointed out what happens when any moral or ethical education is absent, and that ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’, is never a good idea.

    Also I have never given any indication as to my beliefs, you are, once again, fantasizing.

    Duncan S,

    I am afraid that it would take a little more than one man’s opinion in a paperback book, to radically alter my opinion on religion, or indeed on any subject of importance. Any sensible person would agree that one man’s opinion cannot really negate two thousand years of academic religious or philosophic study.

    Perhaps you and Julian actually think that a book such as the ‘Da Vinci Code’, and others, are actually factual rather than just a novels.

  • Julian Morrison

    ernest young: you’re making yourself look silly. I’d never even heard of a “da vinci code” before you mentioned it and I googled, looks like an amusing concept but I see no reason why you think I’d believe it.

    The “two thousand years of academic religious or philosophic study” you refer to is a classical logical fallacy, argument from authority (sub-variant, argument from antiquity) and is meaningless. Good logic invented thirty seconds ago by a five-year-old would trump a three-billion-year-old bad idea.

  • Duncan S 3

    “Perhaps you and Julian actually think that a book such as the ‘Da Vinci Code’, and others, are actually factual rather than just a novels.”…

    As opposed to that ridiculous book of fables you hold in such a high regard?

  • ernest young

    Julian and Duncan,

    If your replies to my comments are anything to go by, you both have a serious problem with comprehension of the written word. It is little wonder that you hold the Bible in such mean regard.

    If logic by a five year old is enough to refute a ‘bad idea’, how comes that, in a our little skirmish here, that you have not managed to come up with a single reasoned argument to support your narrow-mindedness? Surely they didn’t hold you back a year or two, did they?

    While it has been fun watching you both making assumptions, and making comments on illusory statements that I am supposed to have made, nothing that either of you has written would make me doubt my original feeling that you are both ‘narrow-minded bigots’.

    It’s a pity, but thats what you get with a cheap education…no insult intended, just an opinion!…

  • Julian Morrison

    I’m not trying to make detailed logical refutations, is why. They’d be inappropriate for the forum. As is this whole back-and-forth, really, since its strayed way off topic. So if I post again in this thread it will be on-topic and in response to topical comments.

  • Duncan S 3

    ernest,

    Just for the record I’m not the same Duncan S that you’ve been carrying on with, (just happen to have the same initials, thus the appended “3”).

    Anway, I hadn’t planned on posting at all, except that I couldn’t resist piping up when I saw the line about the Divinci Code. I find it amusing that the aformentioned fictional book, and most likely the “others” whatever they may be, seem alot more plausible, and inline with the way things are in real life, than that lovely little book of myths that so frighteningly many people seem to take as historical fact. You can’t even imangine, how baffeling it is to those of us who don’t see the real distinction between most religious beliefs and the tooth fairy… at least the tooth fairy left me a quarter every once in a while.

    This is so off topic, and most likely after the fact, that I’m ashamed.
    Carry on.

  • ernest young

    Adversaries all,

    This has not been so far off topic, after all, were we not discussing private schools and the type of curriculum that we would like to see therein?.

    That we do not agree on just how a code of morality should be taught, was a valid point for discussion – or so I thought.

    Good luck to you all!

  • Richard Easbey

    this is GREAT news. let’s hope it catches on…

  • There is a private school in my Town that manages to keep fees within 10% of the new model school target so it can be done.

    It does have a symbiotic relationship with a nearby church that provides the premises, I imagine they are both dependent on each other.

    I did wonder how the financial model could possibly work with as few as 40 kids, it seems that the PTA work hard to raise funds beyond core resources for extra stuff like computers etc.

    More at http://www.wtschool.co.uk