Free Schools – A resounding success already

September 10th, 2011 § 0 comments

When you try something, you generally give it a bit of time before heralding it as a success, but nooooo. Free schools, those schools that can be opened by anyone from Old Mother Riley and her cow to Mr Montgomery Burns with public money diverted from other existing schools, have been open a week and Cameron wants them to proliferate

replicated many, many times up and down the country

Let’s not get over excited here. I know a week is a long time in politics, but in school life, fuck all happens in a week. Lets just wait a little longer and see what really happens, eh?

Ooooh, look at this

But Vlachos, an associate professor of economics at Stockholm University, is standing his ground. His argument is based on his finding that students who entered gymnasium [sixth form] from free secondary schools on average went on to get lower grades over the next three years than those who had entered with the same grade from municipal secondary schools.

Vlachos suspects that, because schools rather than external examining boards mark students, free schools are more generous than municipal schools in the grades they give. “There’s been tremendous grade inflation in Swedish schools,” he said.

Sweden’s path-breaking educational reforms of the 1990s have come under question since last December when the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment.

This showed that Swedish students had dropped to 19th place out of 57 countries for literacy, to 24th in maths, and to 28th in science. This compared with 9th, 17th and 16th in studies done in 2000, 2003 and 2006 respectively.

And Swedes, used to coming near the top of just about every human development index, were appalled.

Jan Björklund, the minister of education, moved to tighten central control over schools and is soon to launch a parliamentary inquiry into competition and free schools.

“Loopholes in the legislation have meant that free schools can elect not to have a library, student counselling and school nurses,” he complained. “And as they get just as much money as the municipal schools, the owners have been able to withdraw the surplus.”

Not exactly a good omen, is it?

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