Bizarre claim in video posted on New Schools Network

Janet Downs's picture

Secret of free school success is being outside ‘state comprehensive system’

The head of a free school ‘couldn’t have achieved her goals within the state comprehensive system,’ the narrator of a video on the New Schools Network (NSN) claims. 

The video was produced by Learning World in 2015.  Learning World produces weekly TV programmes on education in a partnership between World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) and Euronews. 

The programme attempted to explain the merits of free schools.  The most bizarre claim was that the featured free school, Canary Wharf College, could only flourish outside the state comprehensive system.

It’s easy to roll eyes at a video about a country’s education system apparently produced outside the featured country.  Misunderstanding can easily happen. But NSN contributed to the video and then decided it was accurate enough to be posted on its website.

It’s rather a howler to claim free schools can only flourish outside a comprehensive system when all free schools must be comprehensive*.  They cannot select their pupils by ability.  Free schools, then, are firmly within the comprehensive system.  


*This doesn’t apply to free school sixth forms offering an academic curriculum.  They can select in the same way as other academic sixth forms can set entry criteria.

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