Why don’t we want a Maharishi Free School?
There’s a current bid to open a Maharishi Free School in South West London. The Maharishi Foundation is an umbrella UK organisation with links worldwide. They used to run the Natural Law Party of yogic flyers but made no impact, losing deposits at every election. They now run fee-charging courses in transcendental meditation. They set up a 4-16 school for their followers’ children near their Skelmersdale HQ. In September it became a Free School funded by the taxpayer. They now want to open another Free School in Hampton in SW London, on the site of a disused special school in Oldfield Road.
Why should we oppose this?
1. Their campaign literature is misleading.
They claim the “Maharishi Free School” has Outstanding OFSTED reports. This is untrue, as the inspections did not cover the Free School, only the private school for Maharishi followers.
A government minister is misquoted to make it seem as if he has already given the go ahead to the Hampton plans. In fact, a decision is not to be made until August.
They misquote the International Baccalaureate Organisation and say it has recognised their Science of Creative Intelligence. The IBO say they have not done so. The Maharishi Free School does not even teach the International Baccalaureate.
2. There would be significant environmental consequences.
The Oldfield House site (the proposed place for the school) is on green belt land. The plans would involve developing the site and building a school for about 750 pupils. Not only would this be used during the day, it would also run profitable adult courses in Maharishi philosophy. There would be a large footprint in terms of development and ongoing use.
3. The curriculum includes some unconventional subjects.
The Maharishi Foundation aims to teach all pupils “the subjective approach of Maharishi’s Vedic Science” but they do not admit this openly, hiding it deep in a document for the Charity Commission.
Transcendental Meditation forms part of the daily curriculum (http://www.maharishischool.com/TranscendentalMeditation.html).
4. They appear to be unwilling to share information, which is unacceptable for a state-funded school.
The Lancashire Maharishi Free School have refused requests from people interested in the details of their curriculum to look at their textbooks. State funded schools should not have secrets.
The School’s latest annual return to the Charity Commission was 246 days late and is marked in red on the Commission’s website. This cannot be a well run organisation.
5. Their recruitment policies are suspect.
The teachers they recruit have to be experts not only in Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence but also in the TM Sidhi programme which involves Yogic Flying (a mental-physical exercise hopping while cross-legged).
Their recruitment procedures for teachers seem at odds with equality laws by asking for an applicant’s age and marital status and the names of his/her children.
6. There are already suitable state-funded schools in the immediate vicinity.
The Maharishi Free School would compete directly with Hampton Academy. Taxpayers are making a multi million pound capital investment in the Academy’s new buildings. The Government would be paying the Maharishi organisation to compete with Hampton Academy before it could benefit from that investment.
Please oppose the Maharishi Free School in Hampton. Please share this post on Facebook and Twitter and email the local MP Vince Cable (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Education Minister Michael Gove (email@example.com) with your concerns.
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