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March 21, 2012 / ggalegrant

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 (cablev@parliament.uk) and the Education Minister Michael Gove (ministers@education.gsi.gov.uk) with your concerns.

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4 Comments

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  1. J.W.H.Smiths / Mar 22 2012 1:05 pm

    GGG,
    I think this is a well thought out arguement, but nothing unexpected there as it was written by someone trained in law.
    However, I must admit, I fail to see the significance of your second point, “environmental consequences”. What are these consequences, and why would a school cause these? Does the school lack appropriate access, or a car park? Or perhaps the attendants shall be travelling in heavily poluting transport (which will be a different form of transport if they went to a school elsewhere)? Or maybe members of the Maharishi Foundation have a particularly high methane content in their farts, which will be emphasised due to their proximity to Hampton Court Palace?
    I jest, but I hope my point was clear before I went all crazy.

  2. KP / May 9 2012 9:21 pm

    1. The school in lancashire has been “free” for less than a full school year – what else should they use OFSTED wise? Their history within the community spans over 25 years in which as a “fee” school, I understand the results of students have been exemplary. I could list 100+ schools with worse records, but without first hand knowledge and experience of the school, why would I?

    3. Unconventional – perhaps unconventional to those without experience, but no more unconventional than a humanist child attending a religious school studying Religious Education. TM is practiced as part of the school day which is no more than having a short period of quietness and self calmness, something I would relish during a stressful day at the office, there is certainly nothing unconventional about taking time out.

    4. The school in lancashire is small in comparison to other local schools, and comprises of both primary and secondary students – the numbers of staff are probably a small percentage of other schools which are run more like businesses. I am sure that the introduction of an administration department dedicated to responding to unnecessary freedom of information requests, at the tax payers expense would be acceptable to you?? as a tax payer myself, and as a parent of a student at the lancashire school, I would deem this a waste.

    6. Due to lack of local school places, we were offered a school several miles away, with a much worse OFSTED rating than the marharishi school. Our child has progressed way beyond his peers at other schools as a result of the environment and teaching ethic.

    Reading between the lines you appear to have an unwarranted view against the Marharishi school. Surely new schools in any area are welcome? would you rather have a super market, gym, shopping centre or housing estate – or just leave the land derelict? A hidden agenda perhaps…

  3. pamela merrick / Jan 23 2013 12:25 pm

    What a shame that an innovative approach to education has been rejected by such shortsighted Hamptonites. Reading between lines, it seems that residents might have been afraid of attracting ethnic communities to the area….. Unfortunately Hampton, you have lost an opportunity to be a forerunner in a new approach to education. Judging by the way the world is going, I should have thought a gentler and kinder and more considerate basis to schooling was desperately needed. Ah well– not the first time those in charge of local policies have missed out.

  4. Arthur / Aug 29 2013 7:40 am

    I have no problem with children meditating – if they want to – the problem is with this “science of creative intelligence” Needless to say it has nothing to do with science but is a thinly veiled version of Hinduism involving some sort of intelligence controlling nature, it doesn’t stand up the simplest scrutiny but it taken as absolute truth by the Maharishi’s followers.

    Do we want to bring up children thinking that they can levitate or walk through walls if they say the right words to themselves, or that world peace will only be caused by groups of people hopping about on bits of foam?

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