Sociology on TV – Free schools

Watched an interesting documentary about a journalist and his middle class associate’s attempt to establish a ‘free school’ in West London. Their plans have been agreed by the Department for Education and theirs will be one of the first 16 Free Schools to be established in the UK – to be up and running by September 2011. 

 Their hearts seemed to be in the right place – they wanted an open access school where children of all backgrounds and abilities could go – but there was signigificant opposition to this group of middle class parents setting up their own school – mainly focussing around the concern that  this school will turn into a mainly white middle class enclave.

Personally I think that the strength of reaction against free schools are because these people see how unfair it is – the middle classes have always managed to make the system work in their interests – they did it with grammar schools, and marketisation – andnow  this free school system gives parents, who will typically be middle class becuase of their greater cultural capital, even more power to shape the system in their interests to an even greater extent.

However, the  West London Free School defends itself against these claims and you might like to watch Michael Gove, the education secretary outlinng the case case for free schools and you can find out more about free schools at the government’s web site

Personally, my judgement thus far is as follows

– I believe that some of the founder members of the West London Free School genuinly believe in setting up an open access school to children of all class backgrounds – but this won’t actually end up happenning – their self interest will get the better of them – and self interest will mean keeping the school middle class.

As to the Micheal Gove – he is both a Tory and a politician – two very good reasons to not believe anything he says.  The only reason I recommend you listen to his speach is so you can analyse how far Tory education practise strays from this vision (which is a lie – we may as well say it like it is).

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