Scotland Parents Demanding Choice in Developing Public Schools

Parents in Scotland are embracing school choice just like their counterparts in the US and Britain, Eddie Barnes of Scotsman.com reports. The New School Action Group, an advocacy group for parents in the Southside of Edinburgh, are asking to be allowed to design and operate their own primary school, which will remain a state school [...]

Parents in Scotland are embracing school choice just like their counterparts in the US and Britain, Eddie Barnes of Scotsman.com reports. The New School Action Group, an advocacy group for parents in the Southside of Edinburgh, are asking to be allowed to design and operate their own primary school, which will remain a state school but will be run along different lines with an alternative education approach.

Specifically, members want to adopt the Montessori education system, which is considered to cater more to children’s individual needs and interests. There are private Montessori schools operating in Scotland as well as around the world, but the NSAG feels that the state should offer a publicly funded school that adheres to the philosophy to provide choice for parents and their children.

The move comes as education authorities across Scotland face growing calls to provide wider diversity within Scotland’s state sector. A report by the independent Commission on School Reform earlier this year said that one answer was for them to be given far more autonomy.

One leading educationalist who supported that report last week compared the hierarchical structure in the education system to the caste system in India.

Some believe that offering more educational choice for teachers could go a long way to closing the gap between school quality available to higher-income and lower-income families. Education consultant David Cameron expressed that view last week, saying that the current system was inadequate in addressing this concern. NSAG leader Carol Cerdan said that she just wants to see primary and other state schools be allowed the same freedom to operate as is now given to nurseries around Scotland.

She said that the group was looking at Scandinavia and the US, among others, as models when seeking an alternative that would enhance childhood development.

Cerdan said the parents wanted to stay within the local authority system, rather than copy the English reforms under which so-called “free” schools are being set up independently of the local council.

She added: “We don’t believe in private education. We don’t want to set up a free school. We don’t want it to be a route out. This isn’t a bunch of middle-class parents who want to set up their lovely nice school. But it would be great 
if there were more parental involvement.

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