Education is an issue that every government all over the world is concerned about, and it involves a wide range of disciplines, from politics to academia, that are constantly researching and trying to come up with better ways to improve the quality of children education. Therefore, it is of value to study about the changes and the different alternatives in the educational scheme that are constantly emerging. The importance of this report is to gain understanding about one particular education project named Free Schools, which the British government is implementing this year, 2011, in the hope of improving the education system. The Free School project in the United Kingdom started to function this year, more precisely, in September 2011 the first 24 Free Schools opened their doors to the British public. Since the new policy was launched, it raised controversy within the citizens with discussions in favour and against. This report will start by giving a short background of Free Schools in the UK with a description of Free Schools in Sweden and the Charter Schools, as they are known in the U.S.A. Then it will continue with an equally brief description of each project in the three countries including their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, it will conclude with suggesting a possible reason why there are more arguments against than in favour of this new education policy.
“Every child has the right to an education which develops their personality, talents and abilities to the full. Primary education must be free for all children” (UNICEF, 2011). This universal right is meant to have validity in all countries around the world; each society may formulate the education system within this basic principle (Westling, 2007). Although in some countries this is far from becoming a reality, most societies are constantly modifying and improving the education system towards its realisation. One example of this effort is the Free School project, which was first introduced in Sweden, in 1991, with the intention of an innovative improvement in the Swedish education system (Wiborg, 2010). This system consists of opening the education system to the private sector allowing the general public (business, parent, teachers, and any other interested group) to develop a school within their neighbourhood that can fulfil the demands that the current public or private schools are failing to comply. In addition to the Sweden school model, the UK government is also considering the Charter School movement, which started in the U.S.A. as well in the early 1990s. It started as part of George H. W. Bush’s education policy ‘No Child Left Behind’, establishing that all children in the United States should receive accessible high quality education (Gawlik, 2009). In particular the Free School project in the UK is based primarily in the Swedish innovative educational policy (Gillard, 2011).
Free School project in Sweden
After the Second World War, and within the consolidation process of a welfare state, Sweden faced a major re-organisation of its education scheme, which consisted in the provision of equal education opportunities for all citizens with the aim of creating a “fair and equal society” (Ibid, 2010). The private education for upper class children was abolished and education was regulated by a national curriculum, as it works today, which was revisited and applied to all public schools. In the early 1970s, Sweden faced a major economic crisis and new economic policies started to be introduced in the country like the neo-liberal ideology, which apart from considering the welfare system as being very bureaucratic, it suggested that the education system should provide different school options for citizens to choose from, and this concept would help to create competition between schools which would increase the quality of education (Ibid, 2010). Therefore, and established within this idea, the Swedish Free School project...