A Conservative Approach to Education

In the primary class at Lammas School, Ashfield

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Biz Club Golf Day at Luffenham Heath Golf Club, and while I was there I met a lady called Jane Reynolds, from the County of Rutland (in Alan Duncan’s constituency).  Jane is a supporter of Alan and has campaigned with him.

A year or so ago she took over an independent school in Ashfield known as Lammas School, www.lammas-school.co.uk.  It takes children on a fee-paying basis from the primary level right through to A-level.  But the point I found exciting is that the fee level (unlike the general run of independent schools) is set at the same level as the annual per capita  funding provided in state schools through LEAs.  The school is therefore accessible not just to the rich, but to ordinary middle-class parents (some of whom, as Jane puts it, cancel the Sky subscription to pay the fees).

They go to Lammas School for a variety of reasons — a more traditional approach to education, with a focus on achievement; smaller class sizes; or dissatisfaction with local authority provision.  In a number of cases children have been moved to Lammas School because of bullying in LEA schools.

I’d love to see many more independent schools up and down the country charging fees at an accessible level.  Lammas School, which I visited on September 23rd may be a good model to emulate.

Jane has a friend and associate Darrell West, who has established a related project called Venture Foundation, www.venturefoundation.org.uk.  This project provides vocational education to children who have experienced difficulties in conventional education, or in some cases have been excluded from LEA schools for disciplinary reasons.  It has a number of training establishments including, inter alia, two which I visited on Sept 23rd — hair & beauty/salon management; and automotive engineering and repair.

At the Venture For Life automotive training centre: it was the young lady’s 16th birthday

It appears that by offering training to these youngsters, often from very difficult backgrounds, which is seen by the “learners” themselves as interesting and useful, Venture Foundation has enjoyed considerable success in turning their lives around and setting these young people on a viable path to work, progress and success.

It seems to me that both Lammas School and Venture Foundation have excellent models of education, which fit very well with a Conservative approach to education, and which deserve wider attention.  I wish them every success.

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4 Responses to A Conservative Approach to Education

  1. ian says:

    Nice article. Now all we need is direct grant payable in all sectors, so that they will compete each other’s standards upward and parents can have real choice, irrespective of means.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Hilarious… at least middle class fee paying families can have a good education, but no one else!

    Nice idea!

    • Thanks Jonathan — could you perhaps change your moniker to “Federalist Jonathan” so we know whom we’re dealing with? The answer to your comment is, of course, that if the state education system were to put its house in order, there’d be no need (and no market) for private education. But don’t hold your breath.

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